How to watch Men Up
Men Up aired on BBC One at 9pm GMT on Friday, December 29 in the UK. The film is now FREE to stream on BBC iPlayer. Away from the UK and still want to watch? Use a VPN to watch Men Up from anywhere.
Men Up preview
One mention of the "little blue pill" is enough to send people of a certain age into fits of laughter, but the origins of Viagra are far more gripping than the limp gags it invariably gives rise to. How did Vitamin V come to conquer the world? Via a clinical trial for an angina drug, using cash-strapped former steelworkers in South Wales.
Men Up is a fictionalised account of that trial – which was set up in 1994 by Dr David Price, who consulted on the script and is portrayed by Aneurin Barnard – and its effects on the lives of the men who agreed to be medical guinea pigs for it.
There's Meurig (Iwan Rheon), whose marriage is on the rocks but not for lack of affection; Colin (Steffan Rhodri), a widower who's withdrawn from the world and makes excuses not to meet with a potential new flame in case things escalate and he can't perform; and Eddie (Mark Lewis Jones), a tough guy whose inability to fully satisfy his wife has left his confidence in tatters.
But getting it up is only one part of the equation, as seen when Peetham's (Phaldut Sharma) joy at happening upon a treatment for his impotency gives way to anguish when he promptly discovers that his wife Alys (Alexandria Riley) was perfectly happy not having an active sex life.
An erection can plug some gaps, but it's no substitute for a hard conversation. Follow our guide below to watch Men Up from anywhere.
How to watch Men Up free online
How to watch Men Up online for FREE
Men Up aired on BBC One at 9pm GMT on Friday, December 29.
For those wanting to watch Men Up online, the film is now available to watch live and on demand on BBC iPlayer. It’s a FREE service, though you should be in possession of a valid UK TV licence, as these also cover digital content consumption.
Away from the UK right now? Just use a VPN to alter your IP address so you can stream your favorite TV shows and films online just like you would at home.
How to watch Men Up from anywhere
If you are away from home, you’ll be unable to watch Men Up like you normally would due to annoying regional restrictions. Luckily, there’s an easy solution.
Downloading a VPN allows you to stream online, no matter where you are. It's a simple bit of software that changes your IP address, meaning that you can access on-demand content or live TV just as if you were at home. And ExpressVPN is the no. 1-rated provider you can get right now.
Use a VPN to watch Men Up from anywhere:
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How to use a VPN to watch Men Up
Three simple steps to using a VPN to watch Men Up online:
1. Download and install a VPN - we recommend ExpressVPN.
2. Connect to the relevant server location - launch the VPN app, click on 'choose location' and select the right location i.e. UK for BBC iPlayer.
3. Head to the chosen broadcaster's live stream - in this case, head to the BBC iPlayer website or app to watch Men Up.
Can you watch Men Up from elsewhere?
At the time of writing, any plans to make Men Up available to watch in the US, Canada, Australia and beyond are yet to be announced.
Brits currently away from home can use a VPN to watch Men Up on BBC iPlayer from abroad.
Watch the official Men Up trailer
Men Up trailer
Who is in the cast for Men Up?
- Iwan Rheon as Meurig Jenkins
- Aneurin Barnard as Dr Dylan Pearce
- Alexandra Roach as Ffion Jenkins
- Phaldut Sharma as Peetham ‘Pete’ Shah
- Paul Rhys as Tommy Cadogan
- Steffan Rhodri as Colin White
- Mark Lewis Jones as Eddie O’Connor
- Joanna Page as Moira Davies
- Lisa Palfrey as Teresa Rigby
- Alexandria Riley as Alys Shah
Interviews with cast and crew
Interview with Iwan Rheon
What enticed you to take the role of Meurig?
As soon as I started reading the script, I just loved it – it’s got so much heart. It’s a beautiful mix of drama and comedy. The script is so strong, the characters are so well formed, every individual story is so warm, and you feel the humanity of every character and each relationship.
Where do we find Meurig at the start of the story and what are his motivations for taking part in this trial?
A lot of the characters are at some form of a boiling point and their impotence is causing them mental harm. We find Meurig at a desperate point and a lot of this is about masculinity and the inability to talk about problems. As men, we are getting better at it, but in the 90s, it was very much not a thing to talk about. We find Meurig trying to figure out how he can deal with this because he feels like he's letting his wife down and he's getting quite desperate. He's also dealing with diabetes, and we find him at the real fracture point where it's all going to collapse if he doesn't do something quickly.
What's his relationship with Ffion like?
They are childhood sweethearts and they've been together forever, they’re that type of couple. They were the couple voted most likely to stay together in school and they've got two beautiful children. Due to cancer, Ffion’s had surgery and at the same time Meurig developed diabetes which causes impotency. So, there’s a lot of strain on their relationship because they're not communicating properly. There's so much love there, but through the lack of communication we see cracks developing in their relationship, and they start going off in different directions. Their storyline is about how, and if, they can find each other again.
Men Up’s shooting locations showcase the incredible Welsh landscapes. What was it like filming there?
It was great filming in Wales. I’ve worked in Wales a lot recently, so it was lovely. I've filmed a lot of cycling on the Mumbles which has been nice, there’s worse places! It's great – I love working in Wales.
Men Up is all about male friendships and intimacy. What was it like working alongside the rest of the cast?
The cast is so strong. It's a real privilege to get to work with people I've watched and admired for so long and to get to work with all the boys, and of course, Alex Roach as well. We've worked together before, except we're married now in this one, it's been really good fun. We've had a laugh.
Men Up explores the shame associated with impotency and how it can negatively impact one's mental health and relationships. How crucial is it for men to open up about their feelings?
Most people will know that through lack of communication and expressing your emotions, people drift apart, and you can become lonely and it's a really dangerous thing. Suicide is one of the main killers of men, and it's something that we need to address as men. I believe Welsh men, in particular, are bad at expressing their feelings as I know quite well being one myself! It's something I certainly work on, and I think it's really important. We need to try to just get over the fact that we're worried that someone's going to laugh at you for something and you need to deal with these things.
Can you describe Men Up in three words?
Warm, funny, and hard!
Why should audiences watch Men Up and what do you want them to take away from the show?
I think everyone will recognise themselves or someone that they know in these characters. There's so many wonderful character dynamics and a cross section of Welsh society. Everyone will enjoy the wonderful moments of drama and pathos that is cut by this wonderful humour that the script’s got in it. It's going to be fun, very heartwarming, quite sad at times and has a very important message.
Interview with Joanna Page
What enticed you to take the role of Moira?
I wanted to be in this because Matthew Barry has written it, who's a good friend and I was in Mine All Mine with him years ago, which was written by Russell. Also, getting to work with Russell again and working with Nicola Shindler. After reading the script, I was in awe at what a fantastic story it was, with fantastic characters, so well written, and just a joy to be in.
Men Up is both funny and moving and Moira delivers a lot of comedy. What was it like to play her?
It's been lovely playing Moira. I like that she's very positive and she’s optimistic, but she comes across as quite strong as well. She is comedic and she is funny; I like the scene where she comes in with the ‘material’ for the men to look at and she's light, but she’s still tender with Tommy.
There are funny parts, but what I love about the script is that it's just so tender and moving and you don't really get men talking a lot about their feelings. When you actually think about how much this affected and still affects so many men, it's heartbreaking. It's great playing Moira because she's really good fun, I like being very practical because she's a nurse and she gets on with it, but I like the moving scenes with Tommy.
Men Up’s shooting locations showcase the incredible Welsh landscapes. What was it like filming there?
It was lovely filming in South Wales; you've got the hills surrounding us with all the little sheep on them and the houses dotted around and it’s just so majestic, beautiful and magical.
Men Up explores the shame associated with impotency and how it can negatively impact one's mental health and relationships. How crucial is it for men to open about their feelings?
It's so crucial for men to open up about their feelings because they don't, and then they are carrying so much. You see in the film just how much it impacts them and their mental health and the way that they feel.
What I love about the script was listening in the readthrough and how all of the men were together and sharing their stories. It's going to be fab watching it on TV.
What's it been like working alongside the rest of the cast?
I've loved working with Paul Rhys again - we've been regaling each other with the many times that we've worked with one another before. I’ve played his wife in the past, he's played a doctor who's given me a lobotomy. He's also played a murderer that I’ve tried to catch and now he's playing my best friend - we have done the whole circle. It's a joy working with Paul and the vulnerability and the tenderness that he's capturing with Tommy is so lovely.
I've never worked with Alexandra before, though I have admired her from afar, and I am so excited to be working with her now. When we first met each other at the readthrough, we went and had lunch, and when I left her, I told her I loved her, because she's that amazing! Steffan Rhodri, Mark Lewis Jones, what a cracking cast if I do say so myself!
Can you describe Men Up in three words?
Funny, heartwarming, and important. It's such an important story and a story that I can't believe was happening in Swansea in 1994. I’m from Swansea and didn’t have a clue that it was going on!
Why should audiences watch Men Up and what do you want them to take away from the film?
Audiences should watch because you will absolutely love it. You'll find it hilarious because I was laughing a lot listening to everybody in the readthrough. It will probably make you cry, because it's just so heartbreaking in moments and so tender and moving. It’s so relatable as well, listening to the different actors doing their characters, it felt so real. Matthew’s managed to capture all of these men, and it was men I could recognise within my own family and it's so real. It'll make you laugh, it'll make you cry, and I think you'll relate to it.
Interview with Dr David Price (original trial doctor)
Dr David Price was a medical Research Consultant for Men Up throughout its development and production. He helped the production understand how the trial was run and advised on the script, and was on set during filming to make sure the medical details were as accurate as possible. Dr Dylan Pearce in the film is a fictional character, but is inspired by Dr David Price and his integral role in the trial.
Can you share a little bit about yourself?
I'm David Price, a Consultant Physician with an interest in endocrinology in Morriston hospital, Swansea. I'm part time now, so I'm still involved in acute medicine and seeing medical admissions. I used to work with diabetes as well, but now it's endocrine clinics.
How did you get involved in the trials?
I started getting involved in impotence when I was a junior doctor in the 80s. Previously, we had been told that impotence was psychological, but treatments started to develop which proved that impotence might be a physical issue. It also became apparent that it was completely neglected by the whole profession and the diabetes world. So, I realised it was a neglected area where there was tremendous potential for doing good. I wrote a leading article in the British Medical Journal in 1993, saying impotence is the most neglected complication of diabetes and we had to change that.
As a result of that article, I was approached by Pfizer, who had this new drug. I wasn't actually approached directly, they approached a colleague of mine called John Took in Exeter, who said: “Not my field, try David Price in Swansea,” and I'm very grateful to him. Pfizer had this drug which is designed to treat cardiovascular disease and men refused to turn in their unused tablets because their sex lives improved so much.
We set up the first trials in ’94, and it was clear then after the first patient, we had something special. We had these ordinary middle aged Swansea men who were able to have sex for the first time in years after just taking a tablet. The rest is history - it just took off. For a while I was one of the few people in the world that had any data on Viagra, so I got invited to speak all over the place. It's been a hugely successful drug and it's been a wonderfully rewarding and fun journey.
Why is it important to tell this story?
I think it is great in that it brings forward a couple of key points, one of which is that impotence causes a great deal of hurt for everyone concerned, for the sufferer and for the sufferer’s partner. Secondly, that it's been a completely neglected area that people are afraid to ask for help and they suppress their feelings and go untreated for a long time. Thirdly, people should know that it’s treatable more often than not, and the treatment can be transformative. Overall, it’s a fun story, and very entertaining.
What was it like to visit the set?
I felt a huge sense of privilege and luck. I'm very pleased that you're seeing Swansea at its best. The first trials happened in Swansea and the fact that they're making a film showing Swansea at its best, is fantastic.
How does it feel seeing your work come to fruition in this way?
I will claim credit for one thing only, and that is popularising the message; that impotence is a real, important complication of diabetes and that we in the diabetes world should address it and treat it. I was just lucky that Pfizer approached me with this drug, they could have approached anyone. I feel immensely privileged and lucky.
Interview with Men Up director Ashley Way
Can you tell us the backstory of Men Up and where the film begins?
It’s an interesting backstory and a funny one as well that an international drug corporation were looking for a drug to treat pulmonary heart disease. I believe they were testing it on miners in Merthyr Tydfil and they found that although it wasn’t that successful for heart disease, it did have certain side effects. That’s where our story then picks up with this drug corporation looking for a venue for the trials that take place to test the efficacy of the drug; that’s where we meet our characters.
Can you tell us about the lead character and where we find him at the start of the film?
Our lead character is Meurig Jenkins, a Swansea working-class man and a man that’s got all the weight of the world on his shoulders. He feels that he can’t really be himself and that he’s alienated from his family and his friends. He’s suffering from what we find out to be impotence due to his diabetes, and it’s really affecting his relationships with his family, his wife and his friends. He’s desperate to make a change.
How important was it for you to tell a Welsh working-class story ?
It’s so important to tell these Welsh working-class stories because, I don’t think there are enough of them out there. Something like this is so truthful and honest and heartfelt, and a story that no one really knows. The ripples go far wider than Swansea and this particular drug - it’s about communication and intimacy and how you can find those moments with the people you love.
Men Up is both heartfelt and humorous. How do you balance that?
It’s tricky finding that balance between the heartfelt, the humour, the emotion, which is so raw and some of the moments are so intimate. Then you have comedy that’s both hilarious and also uncomfortable in places and we found a balance by just being truthful. I think we have to play the comedy as truthful, as emotional as the scenes with all the heart and the emotion themselves. The balance was just keeping the actors real and keeping the truth of the moment in the forefront of our minds so that we weren’t over playing the comedy. It’s all down to the actors really, they handled it with aplomb.
How great has it been directing this amazing Welsh cast?
It’s been a dream directing this cast, they’ve all been brilliant. They’ve embraced the story, and everyone has responded so well to the story, to the script and to their characters – it was a dream. We have amazing talent here in Wales, both behind the camera and in front of the camera, and it was just really lovely to work with the actors and to find humour where I didn’t necessarily see it in the script, and they brought so much to it. Mark Lewis Jones, who plays Eddie, his character is seemingly the smallest story of our five leads and yet Mark brought so much to it, he’s probably one of my favourite characters in it now.
Can you describe Men Up in three words?
Men Up is funny, intimate, and heartbreaking.
How do you want audiences to feel when they watch Men Up?
I hope audiences feel entertained and that they feel moved and informed by it. It's a very heartfelt emotional story that's been a labour of love for a lot of us. It comes from the heart and hopefully that translates to the screen and people really embrace what it is. There are lots of moments and subjects in it that may be uncomfortable, but I think it's important for everyone to take away from it that there's always hope if you can find a shoulder to cry on or an ear to bend.
What can you tease audiences about the film?
There’s some rather crazy dancing in it - that's a bit of a tease! Some of our actors who have done serious roles previously, you will see them in lighter moments dancing crazily, which is a lot of fun.
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Aatif is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in the UK. He’s written about technology, science and politics for publications including Gizmodo, The Independent, Trusted Reviews and Newsweek, but focuses on streaming at Future, an arrangement that combines two of his greatest passions: sport and penny-pinching.