12 September, 2006

TOYAH ON
BBC RADIO NEWCASTLE

WITH JULIA HANKIN
11.9.2006


JULIA HANKIN: Good afternoon this is BBC Radio Newcastle, I’m Julia Hankin. Actress, singer, TV personality,I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Heresurvivor Toyah Willcox is back in the North East later this year, just next month now, as part of The Hitmakers tour.

She’ll be on stage with
Howard Jones, Tony Hadley, no Martin Fry rather, and with a whole host of people that you’ll remember fondly no doubt and we’ll catch up with Tony right now. No we won’t, catch up with TOYAH!
(Toyah bursts into laughter in the background)
You know what it is? I think I’ve just had too much coffee!

TOYAH:
Are you alright? (still laughing)

JULIA: Aye, I think so!

TOYAH:
I think Tony Hadley's ears must be burning!

JULIA: What is it with me on Tony Hadley today?!

TOYAH:
You’ve got him on the brain!

JULIA: I have, it’s a bit scary really. (Toyah laughs) Do you ever have days like that though where just everything -

TOYAH:
I don’t have days, I have minutes like it!

JULIA: (laughs) It’s good to have you with us Toyah! It is. You’re on stage with Howard though aren’t you?

TOYAH:
Yeah, Howard Jones and Martin Fry, it’s going to be a lovely evening.


JULIA: Do you know these guys then?

TOYAH:
Yes.

JULIA: I mean you must’ve crossed paths back in the 80’s?

TOYAH:
Oooh well I played Wembley with them three years ago so it’s going to be really nice to be back with them again. Not only that but to be playing the City Hall which is the one of the most famous gigs in the world.

JULIA: Yeah?

TOYAH:
Well, Newcastle is famous for being very very loud and also for 30 years that I have been a stage performer I will never forget how loud these people can chant.


JULIA: Really? So we’re breaking records in Newcastle are we?

TOYAH:
Oh yeah! Big voices! (laughs)

JULIA: Is that a good thing? Seriously I mean when you’re trying to perform and to be heard does it get a bit frustrating?

TOYAH:
No no , only if they were booing would it be frustrating but one of the nicest things about being a performer is those occasions where the audience is louder than you. You think my goodness this is a once in a lifetime experience, I want to remember it forever.

JULIA: Ahh, that’s great! I’m sure you’ll have lots of other wonderful memories as a result of the City Hall gig that’s coming up next month …

TOYAH:
Oh yeah!

JULIA: I mean it’s a wonderful night and it’s a night of nostalgia and it’s pure entertainment. When you’re not involved with this, how much of your time is taken up with music these days?

TOYAH:
Well, I try and do at least two concerts a week. I wouldn’t want to do concerts every night because I’m a bit creaky. I can’t run around like I used to. My body is still the same weight as it was 30 years ago and thanks to a good plastic surgeon I look OK but I just don’t think I could do it night after night after night. I’m 48 and I like to do it twice a week and do it at my best - y’know 110%.


JULIA: So what do you do on the other nights?

TOYAH:
I do telly.

JULIA: You’re doing TV and you’re doing these shows, that’s a lot to keep with isn’t it?

TOYAH:
Yeah but it’s fun. Y’know if it wasn’t fun I couldn’t do it but I have great fun. At the moment I’m presenting - I’m filming some wildlife documentaries for BBC2 . I’m also filming an awful lot of programs for the spring season that are on BBC. So all that kind of goes on the whole time right through the year. So to get on stage and do a gig is just fabulous! I love it!

JULIA: Mmm, I can tell you just love doing it and it’s great that you’re doing the wildlife stuff. That’s something we’ll see in the future, that sounds right up your street?

TOYAH:
It is. Admittedly I’m filming what could be conceived as rather dull things like water fowls and lugworms and stuff like that (laughs) ...

JULIA: I’m sure you can bring it all to life though, the subjects?


TOYAH:
Well, that’s it. I mean tomorrow, no I think Wednesday I’m up at 6 in the morning at the crack of dawn trying to film lugworms so (laughs) ...

JULIA: And what is it - are lugworms filmed over a long period time and they do that sort of what ever that special technology is?

TOYAH:
That’s it, time lapse.

JULIA: That’s it.

TOYAH:
Yeah.

JULIA: So it will look interesting by the time it gets to screen?

TOYAH:
Oh yeah!

JULIA: What are you doing, are you just voicing it or are you actually there with the lug worms?

TOYAH:
I’m there, on the ground -

JULIA: Getting down and dirty -

TOYAH:
Yeah.

JULIA: Oh great! That’s wonderful! Yeah I can imagine you loving that . These TV opportunities - have they risen after “I’m A Celeb”? Did that open a few more - coz I know you were doing telly stuff? Did it open more doors for you?


TOYAH:
Umm, that’s really hard to answer because my life was going really really well before “Celebrity”. I was on the road with an award winning musicalCalamity Jane”-

JULIA: Which came to North East -

TOYAH:
-and it went to the West End after “Celebrity” and in fact I spent the whole of the 90’s presenting. I did “Watchdog”, “Face Value”, “Good Sex Guide Late". I presented the holiday programs along with Jill Dando for ten years so I kind of stepped back from presenting to do more stage work and more acting. It’s just that when these jobs come along they’re so interesting that you don’t want to say no to them and the thought of wildlife is thrilling so I just say yeah absolutely, clear the diary I’m going to do it.

JULIA: But given that your career was going really well and when that “Celebrity” thing came along coz you’re obviously a really intelligent woman and you’ve got lots of strings to your bow - in some ways not an obvious choice for someone to go into doing that?

TOYAH:
Oh I loved it!

JULIA: But people know who you are for a start?

TOYAH:
Yeah but the thing is when you get older people think that you’re either dead or retired (laughs) Now the thing was when I went into “Celebrity” I'd played all ready that year to over a million people. I’d done Wembley with Howard Jones and ABC, I’d done Manchester Evening News Arena… but the whole point of them putting you into “Celebrity” is to say you have no career. Well it was ironic that the year before “Celebrity” I’d played all the arenas in England and then I was on an award winning tour of “Calamity Jane”. They just like to say this about people and when people go into “Celebrity” I KNOW what they’re up to, I know what they're earning and they are at the height of their careers! But the press just likes to say “Oh no, down and out!”


JULIA: But for you it was a challenge - it sounded like a fun thing to do?

TOYAH:
I love that program, I think it’s incredible and I think it’s always good and exciting to be asked to do things that stretch you. And that really does stretch you, you’re out there on your own. You’re made to believe that y’know if a flood happens you’re going to have to survive on your own. They really don’t interfere with you much at all. I really like that, part of me finds that rather enjoyable.

Toyah in the Australian jungle
in "I'm A Celebrity Get
Me Out Of Here"

JULIA: It was after that that you had the facelift which you talked very openly about and written a book about it?

TOYAH:
Yeah.

JULIA: At which point did you decide that that’s what you wanted to do?

TOYAH:
When I got back from “Celebrity”… the only down side of “Celebrity” was that y’know I went in there, I was still relatively successful, exceptionally succesful for a 45 year old and I had four platinum albums, I’ve sold albums world wide, I’ve won awards world wide but the only press I read when I got back was how awful I looked.


JULIA: Ahh.

TOYAH:
There was no acknowledgement of a fantastic personal history and that really did get tom me and I AGREED with what the press said: I looked so TIRED and you don’t have to look tired these days so I did a lot of research, found a surgeon in Paris who could give you surgery but you still looked natural and went off and got it all done.

JULIA: And you did look absolutely fabulous, I haven’t seen any recent pictures but can I ask you a very honest question, I’m intrigued by the whole cosmetic surgery thing ...

TOYAH:
Yeah.

JULIA: I’ve heard that once you have surgery you can look brilliant, I mean take someone like Ann "Scary" Robinson -


TOYAH:
Yeah.

JULIA: She looked miles better when she had hers but it’s a bit like getting a beautiful piece of leather that is sort of finely stretched across the face -

TOYAH:
Yeah.

JULIA: And then after a while, after a couple of years it starts to go a bit baggy and saggy as fine leather would, so what happens?

TOYAH:
The thing is, the myth about surgery is you can have an operation and then you have eternal youth. That’s rubbish. Your body carries on ageing the way it would any other way. So of course you have surgery five ten years down the line again, you’ve naturally aged in that time period. Now I’m not sure I would have more because I feel I don’t look ill anymore and the reason I got it done was I was feeling as happy as Larry and walking down the street and people were saying “Smile love, the world ain’t ending.” Now if my face wasn’t showing how wonderful I felt … I felt I had to do something about it. I didn’t have surgery to look younger, I had surgery to look well. As long as I keep looking well I won’t have more surgery but I’m going to age. That’s absolutely inevitable.


JULIA: I guess the fear is, and maybe there isn’t an answer to this, because the kind of advances that are made in surgery, things are changing pretty much all the time-

TOYAH:
You’ll be able to freeze the age you want stay at. That’s already happened now. You can see it in 30 year olds - lots of show business 30 year olds aren’t ageing and that’s because technology is such that you can freeze the age you remain at.

JULIA: But then how do we know that say a 30 year is freezing her age and she’s getting to 36-37 -

TOYAH:
Do you know ANY 37 years olds without wrinkles?

JULIA: Yeah, well yeah, one but not on telly -

TOYAH:
(?) (both talk at the same time) … show biz a 37 year old who looks 23

JULIA: But do you think - my questions is - do you think that these women stop by the time they get to 40, will they look older than they would have normally because they’ve had so many things do to them?

TOYAH:
I understand where you’re coming from -

JULIA: Yeah -

TOYAH:
They won’t stop. They will keep having the treatments right through.


JULIA: That’s right though is it?

TOYAH:
I don’t know, I think it’s a life style choice and people must be allowed to make it. I think the kind of women who are freezing their age will do so for the rest of their life. They won’t suddenly hit an age and stop because what they’re having is non invasive, they’re having botox and fillers and for some reason botox can stop the ageing process.

JULIA: Now there’s always that fear that long term you don’t know what you’re doing to yourself?

TOYAH:
Botox has been used since the 1930’s so-

JULIA: But you still got people like Cliff Richard who I’ve interviewed and he says he’s stopped using it because he felt like his eyelids were drooping-

TOYAH:
Well interestingly if that is true with Cliff, Tom Jones has said the same. Tom has said that he’s had so much work on his eyelids that he can’t have anymore, he won’t be able to close his eyes. And good for him for saying that. Now what people don’t tell is that when you get past 60 into 70 you’re skin is so thin, like paper, it’s beyond surgery, you can’t have surgery at that age really, it’s too risky. So good for them for being open about it.

JULIA: OFF the whole subject of cosmetic surgery now coz I have a very important thing to do now -


TOYAH:
Yeah?

JULIA: Now this is probably why I called you Tony earlier actually (Toyah laughs) - when Tony Hadley was on the show last week we did thing with him and I’d like to do this thing with you-

TOYAH:
Sounds utterly obscene!

JULIA: Are you up for it Toyah Willcox?

TOYAH:
Yeah!

JULIA: Alright then, I need a kind of jingely thing here we go (plays jingle)
OK, this is a fairly new part of the program where we Test The Quest and we’re going to question you this afternoon Toyah Willcox about: Toyah Willcox!

TOYAH:
(Toyah snorts) Help!

JULIA: Haha, alright then you’re up for it good OK.
(Toyah laughs) There’s no prize but y’know it’s a way for people to find out even more about you really coz they love you Toyah, they love you. Right: question number one: What was the name of the film in which you starred along side Katherine Hepburn?

TOYAH:
The Corn Is Green !


JULIA: Yeah! One out of one! (Toyah laughs) Now was she nice to work with coz she looks formidable?

TOYAH:
No no no, she was ABSOLUTELY wonderful! Wonderful to everyone, she had time for everyone.

JULIA: That’s a true star, isn’t it, someone who does that, yeah I’m glad to hear that because she is one of my idols.

TOYAH:
And she was a anglophile, she loved the English, she loved the welsh as well, coz we filmed in Wales and she just loved speaking to people.

JULIA: Is that available on DVD now that film?

TOYAH:
I hope so!

JULIA: Let’s try and get that one.

TOYAH:
It’s BBC so I hope so.

JULIA: BBC - oh it should be. Question number two Toyah Willcox: which popular soap featured a character named after you?


TOYAH:
Coronation Street.

JULIA: What did you think of Toyah Battersby?

TOYAH:
Well, they did ask my permission to use the name-

JULIA: Did they?!

TOYAH:
- which was very polite of them. I never saw it because I work in the evenings with the band so I just didn’t see it but I used to get terribly disturbed if I picked up the Daily Mirror or a newspaper and it said “Toyah! What’s happened” and it was about her storyline and I thought oh my goodness I don’t want my mum reading that!

JULIA: Haha! But that’s- you’re up there with Madonna really aren’t you in that sense that you can just say Toyah and everyone knows who you are?

TOYAH:
Well, I’d like the pay packet! But I suppose my name’s up there yeah.

JULIA: You’d like the pay packet but not the leotard!

TOYAH:
(laughs) I’m sure if I work hard on my body … I don’t look like Madonna I look like her mother!


JULIA: Oh get out of town! Final question for you: your husband Robert Fripp - with which band is he more closely associated with?

TOYAH:
King Crimson.

JULIA: Ahh I quess you had to get that right?

TOYAH:
I had to get that right or I’d be in big trouble!

JULIA: Do you ever play King Crimson around the house?

TOYAH:
My husband does more experimental music these days and I tour manage for him to keep him happy so I get to hear an awful lot of his music. We were in Estonia last week so I do know his work very well.

JULIA: How did you two meet?

TOYAH:
We were introduced by … what’s … Princess Pushy, I can’t remember her name ...

JULIA: Princess Pushy? Oh the blonde one?

TOYAH:
Yeah.

JULIA: Michael. Princess Michael Of Kent.

TOYAH:
She introduced us at a music charity.


JULIA:
Oh my word how posh is that!

TOYAH:
It was and I was so short coz she is about 6”3 -

JULIA: Yeah, she’s abnormally tall isn’t she?

TOYAH:
My husband is at least 5”11, he’s now shrunk a bit coz he in his 60’s but I was so short and there’s a picture of all of us together and my head is craning towards her to look into her eyes.

JULIA: Hehe, that’s lovely! And did you know who he was? Did you know about his-

TOYAH:
No. And he didn’t know who I was either.


JULIA: Brilliant. Well that’s good isn’t it coz neither of you were in awe of each other -

TOYAH:
I think it’s better to meet when you don’t know anything about anything!

JULIA: And when you heard his music and he heard yours - it was it still OK, you both approved?


TOYAH:
Well, it’s kind of … we are the odd couple, musically we’re very odd because he’s progressive rock and pop so it’s interesting . I think if we knew each others music we’d never have met.

JULIA: And I did read somewhere that you lived in separate houses or you live apart a wee bit of the time?

TOYAH:
19 years of our marriage we virtually lived apart but he’s in semi-retirement now, so he’s home, I cook for him twice a day and I really like it. We’re having lovely lovely autumn years of our marriage, it’s really nice.

JULIA: Aw, that sounds gorgeous.

TOYAH:
Yeah.

JULIA:
Well you know Toyah, middle name Tony Hadley, her middle name’s Tony Hadley (Toyah laughs) it has been lovely to talk to you today and we can’t wait to see you back at the City Hall where I know the chanting will be at fewer pitch!

TOYAH:
I hope so! I’ll do my best to encourage it!

JULIA: Great talking to you Toyah, thanks ever so much, that’s Toyah Willcox who’s at City Hall on the 21st of October as part of the Hitmakers Tour and she will be on stage NOT with Tony Hadley - I don’t where he came into my psyche but with Martin Fry and Howard Jones. Should be quite a night!


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