The Full Monty turns 20: How dole queue scene helped put Sheffield community centre on the map

The famous dole queue scene is recreated at the Burton Street Foundation
The famous dole queue scene is recreated at the Burton Street Foundation
0
Have your say

The Burton Street Foundation will forever be associated with Donna Summer's Hot Stuff thanks to the Full Monty.

In one of the movie's most memorable scenes, shot within the old Langsett Road School in Hillsborough, the steelworkers-turned-strippers impulsively start gyrating to the steamy lyrics as they wait in line for their benefits, culminating in a full twirl from Gerald.

Andy Beeston with some of the Full Monty memorabilia at the Burton Street Foundation

Andy Beeston with some of the Full Monty memorabilia at the Burton Street Foundation

The old stone buildings also stood in as young Nathan's school and the location for Gerald's dance class, but it is the dole queue sequence with which the venue remains indelibly connected.

When filming took place, it was just two years since locals had occupied the abandoned Victorian buildings to prevent their demolition and preserve them for the community.

Twenty years later, the buildings may look the same from the outside but within they are bristling with activity, housing a gym, café and recording studio.

They host countless activities for people with disabilities and have proved so popular, attracting more than 2,000 visitors a week, that the foundation recently expanded into the Bamforth building across the road.

The Burton Street Foundation buildings today

The Burton Street Foundation buildings today

When The Full Monty crew turned up all those years ago, they were keen for it to look as rundown as possible, so windows were covered with fake frosting and walls were painted in sombre shades.

Andy Beeston, senior manager at the foundation, said: "When I arrived a few years later, it was exactly as they'd left it. The fake frosting was peeling off and the walls were the same colour. They'd deliberately decorated in very grey colours which we decorated over."

Today it looks very different, following a multi-million pound refurbishment completed in 2010 - but that doesn't stop new visitors demanding the Full Monty tour, explained Andy.

"You can still recognise all the locations from the film. In the early days we had coach loads of people visiting each week as part of the Full Monty tour. Even today, when we show people around they all want to see where The Full Monty was shot," he said.

This is where the film's ballroom dance scene was shot

This is where the film's ballroom dance scene was shot

"The film really helped put us on the map. People know who we are because of that."

The dole queue scene, filmed in Capel Hall, includes a cameo by Jim Taylor, one of the community members who helped save the Burton Street buildings.

Prince Charles famously recreated the scene when he visited the buildings on his 50th birthday in 1998.

Ironically, having doubled up as a job centre, the Burton Street Foundation would go on to play an instrumental role in helping adults with learning disabilities find employment.

The Full Monty team presented the Burton Street Foundation with annotated pages from the script

The Full Monty team presented the Burton Street Foundation with annotated pages from the script

The Full Monty may be a distant memory today, but producers did leave mementoes including a framed still of the dole queue scene and part of the original script with handwritten alterations.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Full Monty, the foundation is hosting a special screening on Tuesday (August 29), which has already sold out. On the night, some of its clients with learning disabilities will recreate the dole queue scene and there will be a Q&A by the film's writer Simon Beaufoy.

Andy, who is among the film's legion of fans, says he remembers scenes being shot around Attercliffe where he was working at the time, but had no idea how big it would become.

"It's a real feelgood film. It's never going to win any Oscars (the film was actually nominated for four Academy Awards and won one, for the best original musical or comedy score, which went to Anne Dudley) but it really caught people's imaginations. It's a classic tale of a group of underdogs achieving something against the odds," he said.