WHEN The Full Monty was a surprise hit in cinemas back in 1997 it was embraced as a riotous comedy about a bunch of working-class northern blokes who become unlikely strippers.

There was, of course, some social comment - the six men are all unemployed, three of them had worked in the steel industry - and the film touched on issues such as fathers’ rights, depression and body image. But it was ultimately a comedy, forever remembered for the job centre queue dance.

A new production of the stage play based on the film offers the familiar rollercoaster of laughs and heartbreak and, says its cast, the issues it covers are as relevant as ever.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The boys in actionThe boys in action (Image: Ellie Kurttz)

The play, heading for the Alhambra next month, is written by Glusburn-born Oscar winner Simon Beaufoy, who wrote the screenplay for the film. It stars Jake Quickenden as Guy, Bill Ward as Gerald and Danny Hatchard as Gaz.

Danny Hatchard is best known as Lee Carter in EastEnders, and Gary in popular sitcom Not Going Out.

Jake Quickenden shot to fame on X Factor and has appeared in shows such as Hair and Footloose. His TV credits include The Real Full Monty: On Ice and Hollyoaks.

Bill Ward was Coronation Street villain Charlie Stubbs - famously killed by Tracy Barlow - and James Barton in Emmerdale. He has appeared in TV dramas such as The Hunt for Raoul Moat and Vera and his West End theatre credits include Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Spamalot.

More than 25 years on,The Full Monty is enjoying a resurgence, with the Disney+ spin-off series and this new touring production. Why has it stood the test of time?

Danny: “Is there a more iconic working-class comedy than The Full Monty? I’d argue not. Especially one that covers so many important topics that are still very relevant today...fathers’ rights, depression, suicide, impotence, homosexuality, unemployment, body image. Tackling important subjects like these whilst adding a sprinkle of nostalgia and a dash of humour takes the audience on a two-hour emotional rollercoaster filled with tears and belly laughter. It’s hugely relatable to both men and women.”

Jake: “So many people can relate to the characters, they draw on relationships that affect everyone: ex-wife, ex-wife’s new husband, kid that lives with mum, lads, being skint, the list goes on. Everyone who watches it can feel like it’s speaking to them, then of course there’s the brilliant humour, the dancing and everything that goes with it.”

Bill: “At its core it revolves around a number of universal, timeless themes: male brotherhood, love, overcoming loss and adversity, and ingenious solutions to recognisable problems. This is essentially about six men who’ve lost not only their jobs, but their sense of identity and their dignity. And what they’re prepared to do to get that back.”

DH: “If anything, times are harder now on men, and women, than they ever have been, especially regarding body image and mental health - social media being the main driving force of that. Every day people post their idea of ‘perfection’ all over the internet, and naturally we compare.

“I’d say The Full Monty is just as important now as it was 25 years ago. There used to be more of a sense of community and care for one another, and I feel social media is pushing us further and further away from our natural way of communicating. The Full Monty is a hilarious, thought-provoking show that will make you feel part of a community again.”

JQ: “I think it led the way with a lot of these conversations - it was 1997 when the film came out, men didn’t really share their issues with each other and it was still pretty taboo to be open about mental health and being gay. This story reminds us of lots of things that are more accepted today but still very important - talk to people if you’re feeling down, there is always another way other than suicide. Being yourself in the world is nothing to be ashamed of. Your body is the only one you have, love it no matter how it looks. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t do something...There are just so many messages in here for everyone.”

BW: “Simon Beaufoy came to see us during rehearsals and he was very clear it wasn’t a comedy at all. ‘A play with jokes,’ is how he described it. It is of course very funny, but the comedy actually comes from the very real tragedy that all these characters are facing in their lives; different circumstances, different starting points, but real grief and tragedy nevertheless.”

There’s a brotherhood between the men in the play. How well have you bonded as a cast?

DH: “The casting team have done an incredible job. I love and respect every member of this cast. They say time flies when you’re having fun. Well, two hours feels like 20 minutes onstage with this lot. Every scene feels effortless, I trust them all implicitly.

JQ: “Usually you get little cliques growing but we genuinely all get on so well, and because a lot of the scenes include all of us, we have a laugh and get closer every day. Then there are all the memories we’re making as we tour the UK, all the theatres, hotels, lunch breaks end up creating this happy family.

BW: “This is a wonderful cast and crew. Hugely talented, and lovely too. We’re a happy band of sisters and brothers.”

What are you most looking forward to about touring?

DH: “Bigger audiences. When you know you’ve got something good you want to share it with the world. So, the bigger the audience the better.”

JQ: “Being somewhere different every week or so keeps the energy alive. We know that audiences are seeing it for the first time, it helps the electric keep buzzing onstage. Plus, we get chance to potter about during the day and see different places and hang out. It’s pretty cool that friends and family all over the UK can get to a show as there’s usually one heading to a theatre near them.”

BW: “This is a beautiful, heartwarming and at times very moving story. It’s also very funny and an absolute riot at the end. A properly banging night out at the theatre. Sharing that with the good people of the UK in these otherwise rather bleak times can only be a good thing.”

* The Full Monty is at the Alhambra from November 14-18. Call (01274) 432000 or visit bradford-theatres.co.uk