'The Full Monty' returns 25 years on, with its politics laid bare

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This combination of images shows Wim Snape, from left, Paul Barber, Steve Huison, Robert Carlyle, Mark Addy and Tom Wilkinson in scenes from the series "The Full Monty." (Ben Blackall/Hulu via AP)

LONDON – The Sheffield strippers of “The Full Monty” return 25 years on, in a new TV series that wears its politics on its sleeve.

In the much-loved original movie, a group of unemployed men from the north of England decide to form a striptease act in a desperate attempt to raise money after the local steelworks closed down.

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A new comedy-drama TV series from the same writer, Simon Beaufoy, and producer, Uberto Pasolini, returns to those characters more than two decades later in a compelling portrait of contemporary Britain. After the dismantling of heavy industry, the area has been subjected to an erosion of public services and the welfare safety net.

“The politics are in there,” actor Steve Huison told The Associated Press recently. “You don’t have to be slammed in the face with them but hopefully people will see it and realize, ‘Oh, you know, that’s where I’m at at the moment.’”

The original movie was a surprise international hit, earning nearly $260 million and even spawning a musical in 2000 and a play in 2013. Robert Carlyle, who plays grifter Gary “Gaz” Schofield, attributes that success to its universal themes.

“One of the principal reasons why it did have such an appeal worldwide, particularly in Europe, was that places like Sheffield exist all over Europe, and all over the U.S., if you think of it, you know, probably Detroit or something like that. The death of the car industry there is similar to the death of the steel industry in Sheffield,” Carlyle said.

The 1997 movie was nominated for four Academy Awards, including best picture, and won one for Anne Dudley’s score.

The men of “The Full Monty” — older but not necessarily wiser — do not strip in the TV series, but are struggling to keep up with developments in modern society and, in some cases, to survive. It co-stars original castmembers Tom Wilkinson, Mark Addy, Wim Snape, Paul Clayton and Paul Barber.

Original star Hugo Speer, who once taught King Charles III a dance routine from the movie at the then-prince's 50th birthday party, was sacked from the show after allegations of inappropriate conduct, but does make a brief appearance in the series.

Beaufoy co-wrote the series with frequent collaborator Alice Nutter, the Chumbawamba singer who's also written for “Trust” and “The White Princess.” Unlike the movie, the new TV series doesn’t just focus on the plight of working class men; women are front and center in the story, no longer just sidelined as wives.

“You know, from the original to the series, I felt that Simon had been incredibly generous,” said Lesley Sharp, who returns as Jean. “He and Alice have invested really beautifully in other female characters.”

The series has a new character, Destiny, a tearaway teen played by Talitha Wing who has inherited her father Gaz’s tendency to get her friends into trouble, but has a steely determination to get on in life.

“There’s really, really strong women,” said Wing (“Alex Rider,” “Wolfe”). “It’s fantastic to see and to play as well.”

The eight-part original series from FX is now available on Hulu in the U.S. and Disney+ in the U.K.

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