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An intimate portrait of bodybuilding champion Simon Ackroyd as he sacrifices everything for his biggest competition yet, Mr Universe.


Lets make a little film...

In August 2014 Simon Ackroyd won a major bodybuilding championship to become Mr Great Britain. He then had just eight weeks to prepare for his biggest ever competition, Mr Universe.

Simon’s brother Shane and his filmmaker friend Ian Harding, decided to make a film following Simon, and his inspirational training partner Neil Whike, as they train to compete for the Mr Universe title.

Filmed over three months and produced over twelve, These Are The Ones that Count is an intimate and honest portrait of Simon and Neil as they embark on the their most demanding training schedule where every repetition, calorie and carb matters.

Scroll down for clips and photos from the film.



A Yorkshireman by birth, but a Mancunian by upbringing, Simon has been an accomplished sportsman since his childhood, excelling in rugby, football, athletics and gymnastics. In his teenage years Simon started a career in hairdressing – he’s the original gentle giant of the North and he never fails to get a reaction from his customers with his bodybuilders’ physique powering a tiny pair of scissors.

Simon first started weight training in the local gyms during his twenties. With his natural sporting abilities the results came quickly and weight training soon became an all encompassing pastime. Juggling family life, a career and the gym Simon progressed to the point where he could start competing. He pursued the UK amateur scene with vigour and established himself as a serious contender.

However, when Simon and Neil crossed paths the two of them realised that they could achieve more together than separately. Simon fully embraced Neil’s training methods and has subsequently gone on to win Mr Great Britain 2014, and now prepares to compete for the Mr Universe title.


Neil was born in 1967 in Macclesfield. He became involved in sports from a young age and, by his teenage years, developed into an accomplished young boxer. He then decided to take his training beyond the square ring by becoming a bodybuilder. His fighting skills and physique made him an ideal bouncer working on the mean streets of Macclesfield.

During his twenties Neil met his wife Nicola and they started a family. Now with two young daughters Neil decided that he should pursue a safer occupation and took up taxi driving instead. However, his new job was dangerous in other ways with Neil’s lifestyle becoming far less disciplined, and he became morbidly obese to the tune of thirty stone.

At the age of 38 Neil needed a gastric bypass and this put his health in a bleak new perspective. From stepping onto a simple treadmill Neil started to fight back for his health and physique. Through sheer determination and grit Neil is today not just a fit man, but an inspiration to the bodybuilding community and an incredible training partner for Simon.





These Are The Ones That Count was independently filmed and produced by Ian Harding & Shane Ackroyd.

Ian and Shane have been friends since they were teenagers, skateboarding around the streets of Manchester together. Shane eventually put down his skateboard to study production engineering at Stockport Technical College, after which he joined his father’s engineering company as a robot programmer.

Ian studied Fashion at Leeds University before starting a career in advertising photography. In recent years he has moved into video production, with clients including Morrison’s, Marks & Spencer and Adidas.

Even though Ian and Shane’s careers took them in very different directions, they stayed great friends and both retained a love for film. So, when one evening Shane mentioned to Ian that his older brother, Simon, had won Mr Great Britain and was now training for the Mr Universe competition, Ian said, “Cool, let’s make a 15-minute documentary!” Over the next three months of filming, and twelve months of production, their “small film” grew and morphed into something bigger than either of them expected.

Although Ian’s first documentary, he brought to it his creative, story driven style and ‘let’s do it’ attitude. This is an approach which lies firmly at the heart of his company, Crispy Dog Productions. Shane thought that his own role would be just production assistance, however, with Ian behind the camera the film needed someone on screen as interviewer and storyteller. And who better to show the world Simon’s intense sacrifice, commitment and dedication, than his own brother.

The process of editing over forty hours of footage was a mammoth one. The initial ambition evolved beyond simply documenting Simon’s journey and information about bodybuilding, into capturing the fun, honesty and humour of Simon and Neil’s individual characters and their incredible partnership together.

Finally the film was finished. Ian and Shane would like to thank and mention their collaborators who've helped to add the finishing touches to this masterpiece and release it into the world, concluding this long journey. Nick Grills is a brilliant scriptwriter who has been invaluable in his advice on story and structure. Joe Roughton is one of the North’s finest young composers and worked hard to provide a stunning score for the film. Pat Wintersgill is a colour wizard and was responsible for the colour grading and final look of the film. James Feltham is an audio genius & undoubtedly parts of the film would have been unusable without his help. Amy Berry is a true marketing guru and has used her amazing skills to bring this film to a wider audience beyond the world of bodybuilding. And lastly, Daniel Oropeza is the web master and he has built this great website from a lot of confused notes and scribbles.

Together, this talented team of individuals have helped Ian and Shane realise their “small film” on the big screen. Thank you!