Ella Vaday, Ben Cohen and more bare it all for TV Christmas charity special

The festively-themed event saw the UK stars stripping off in front of a crowd to raise money for cancer awareness charities.

Promotional image of the cast of ITV's 'The Real Full Mont: Jingle Balls' Christmas special featuring Ella Vaday, Paul Barrell, Ben Cohen, Gemma Collins, and more.
Image: ITV

Queer icons including Drag Race UK alum Ella Vaday (Nick Colier), former England rugby star and LGBTQ+ ally Ben Cohen, and Princess Diana’s former gay butler Paul Burrell, joined the cast of ITV’s The Real Full Monty: Jingle Balls this week to raise money and awareness for UK cancer charities. 

The festively-themed event, which has been an annual Christmas program from ITV since 2017, saw the UK stars, including the likes of Gemma Collins and Coronation Street’s Victoria Ekanoye, stripping off in front of a crowd to raise money for cancer awareness charities. The televised event similarly saw an all-star cast of celebrities demonstrating, on their naked bodies, how to perform cancer self-checks. 

Each of the stars featured in the recent ITV event have been touched, one way or another, by cancer over the course of the last year. 

Nick Colier, better known by their drag persona, Ella Vaday, rose to fame when they appeared on the third series of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK. After winning four ‘maxi’ challenges throughout the season, Vaday placed as a runner-up in the competition. In 2022, Colier/Vaday opened up about their mother’s battle with breast cancer.

“My mum has recently had a mastectomy and is still going through treatment for breast cancer,” Vaday said in an interview with PinkNews in 2022. “She got diagnosed properly in October. She had been concerned about her breasts for quite a while but kept it to herself.”

The Drag Race star has since participated in a number of events raising funds and awareness for breast cancer research, including a Race For Life event, which Vaday attended in full drag. 

In addition to raising awareness for cancer research, Vaday claimed that participating in The Real Full Monty: Jinge Balls special also helped them with their body confidence. 

“Body confidence is something I’ve always struggled with,” Vaday told Attitude. “I think people would be surprised to find that out. But I’ve never been particularly comfortable going back to school days, in a changing room, for example. I hated that environment. I’m not into sports, so for someone like Ben Cohen, who was used to a locker room, [he] doesn’t think about it. Whereas for me, and maybe it’s because I’m a gay man as well, I don’t tend to spend a lot of time naked with strangers in any aspect of my life.

“I think with body dysmorphia, it’s always going to exist,” Nick added. “I do feel more confident than ever at the moment with how I look and how I feel. It stems, I think, from always being in a dance studio, staring at myself in the mirror, comparing myself to the next guy in the audition. It was nice to talk about those feelings with other people in the room. I feel like we really bonded and we just sat around with dressing gowns on completely naked underneath. And I’m sat there with Paul Burrell and Ben Cohen on beanbags completely naked like it’s normal. It was quite hilarious!” Vaday concluded. 


Ella Vaday was joined by fellow LGBTQ+ icons on the recent ITV Christmas special, including former England rugby star and longtime gay ally Ben Cohen. 

Now 45, Cohen retired from the English rugby scene back in 2011, but has since gone on to advocate for a series of causes, including cancer research and the fight against homophobia and bullying, which he tackled with his now-closed charity, the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation. 

Cohen has been involved in advocacy since he was diagnosed as clinically deaf as a result of his tinnitus. He has similarly been active in raising money and awareness for cancer treatment following his ex-wife’s cancer diagnosis earlier this year.  

While Cohen identifies as straight, the former rugby star has had a sizeable LGBTQ+ following for years. In a 2014 interview with the Mirror, Cohen explained: “I was completely unaware of any gay following until about seven or eight years ago. I got a message out of the blue from a French lad, Laurance, from Paris…he had set up a fan page in honour of me on Facebook.

“So I checked it out and there were 37,000 members. When I scrolled down, I noticed they were all men. Apparently I’d become a gay icon!”

While we’re sure that Cohen’s charity work to combat homophobia and bullying has something to do with his ‘gay icon’ status, another likely source comes from Cohen’s father, who died in 2000 after sustaining fatal injuries while attempting to protect an assault victim at Eternity Nightclub in Northampton, which he managed. 

Cohen said that, following his father’s passing, he connected with his gay fans who were “suffering the same sort of pain and anguish” due to homophobia. 



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Un post condiviso da Ben Cohen (@bencohenrugby)

Ella Vaday and Cohen were similarly joined on The Full Monty: Jingle Balls by yet another queer British personality, Paul Burrell. 

Now 65, Burrell is best known for being the former butler of Princess Diana of Wales. Last year, Burrell was scheduled to appear on an All-Stars version of I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! However, after completing the necessary medical checks to appear on the show, Burrell was diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer. 

Upon hearing the news of his diagnosis, Burrell told PinkNews: “I sat there for a while, it must’ve been about 10 seconds actually but it seemed like forever, and I said to [the doctor], ‘Can you tell me that again? Because it didn’t quite go in. Are you saying I have cancer?’ And he said, ‘Yes, I am.’”

Thankfully, Burrell is now in remission and is using his platform to help other gay men who have been diagnosed with cancer, like himself, by discussing testing and sex. 



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Un post condiviso da Paul Burrell RVM (@officialpaulburrell)

While Burrell didn’t publicly come out as gay until 2017, he told PinkNews that he believed that Princess Diana was well aware of his LGBTQ+ identity while he was working for her, claiming that his sexuality has always been an “implicit” part of who he is. 

When asked if he thought Princess Diana would have accepted his sexuality, Burrell said: “Yes, because she never saw sexuality in anyone. She never saw race in anyone, she never saw colour in anyone.”

“She saw people, and she saw me as a person, and she said, ‘I’ve got the ability to look inside you and see who you are’ and she liked what she saw, and that’s why I stayed so long,” Burrell concluded, referring to his ten years of service as Diana’s personal butler from 1987 up until her death in 1997. 

Princess Diana was well-known and loved for her acceptance and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly for opening the UK’s first specialist HIV/AIDS unit at London’s Middlesex Hospital in 1987. 

In addition to Nick Colier (Ella Vaday), Ben Cohen, and Paul Burrell, other UK stars who appeared on this week’s The Real Full Monty: Jingle Balls Christmas special on ITV included media personality Gemma Collins, The Only Way is Essex star Pete Wicks, television presenter Julia Bradbury, singer Colleen Nolan, dancer Ashley Banjo, Coronation Street’s Victoria Ekanoye, and German ice skater Vanessa Bauer. 


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