TOYAH ON THE
BBC THREE COUNTIES
THE LORNA MILTON
BBC THREE COUNTIES
THE LORNA MILTON
LORNA: Now then, our Big Entertainment Guest today is a singer and an actress and was the punk rock princess of the 80’s, in fact she must be one of the few people to have presented a sex show and "Songs Of Praise."
She’s a believer in the paranormal, she was quite open about the fact she’d had an facelift and entertained us when she went into the Celebrity Jungle. There are lots of good stories to come, I can feel it! Welcome to the afternoon show, it’s Toyah Willcox! Hello!
TOYAH: Hello Lorna, how are you doing?
LORNA: I don’t know how I’m going to squeeze it all in but I’m going to try my best (Toyah chuckles)! What came first? The love of acting or the love of singing?
TOYAH: I was an actress first. I was the youngest member of the National Theatre Company. I joined when 18 when 1976.
LORNA: My goodness!
TOYAH: Yeah. I mean they have younger people acting there now but that’s what I did first. I’d actually made five feature films before I had my first hit single. So I was very very busy from a very young age.
LORNA: Did you ever think about sticking with the acting rather than going with singing? Because you fronted the band Toyah and it was a bit of slow start really wasn’t it?
TOYAH: Well, I think … you say it’s a slow start but I was working really hard because I was making feature films in the daytime and gigging with my band in the evening. When you’re young I think music is incredibly important to you. I mean I’m gigging now, I do 3 or 4 shows a week and have done for the last 32 years.
But it’s, erm, I think music is a very young-at-heart profession. And I was always nagged to do only acting. But I’ve always thought that acting was something I could go back to. In fact I’ve got a comedy drama coming out next week, which Harry Hill is in and Ainsley Harriott playing themselves! (Gayle Tuesday: The Comeback (below))(Lorna laughs)
LORNA: When you say "I was nagged to stick to the acting", was that nagged by your parents?
TOYAH: No, by my agent.
LORNA: Oh, was it?
TOYAH: Yeah. Because I had a fabulous acting agent when I was in my 20’s. I adored her and sadly she passed away from pneumonia. But she was really great and see came to see on the road. She traveled up from London to Birmingham and she sat me down with my parents and said "I need to talk to you. You have to decide between the two." And I wasn’t prepared to that because I was at the height of my singing career and I carried on doing them in tandem. But she very very adamantly wanted me to act. Only act.
LORNA: What did your parents think of it?
TOYAH: Well, they were happy for me to carry on singing because I was about to win what was the equivalent of a Brit Award for Best Female Singer (1982 - British Rock and Pop Awards). I had years of singing ahead of me and tours planned and stuff like that and this agent wanted me to join the Royal Shakespeare Company. And I just wasn’t ready to do that. I wanted to experience the world.
LORNA: That’s quite brave isn’t it? Lots of people would jump at the chance and think "I’m going to go and do this and take this opportunity." But you were like "no, I’m not ready for it, I’m going to go and do something else, I’m going to go and do what I want to do."
TOYAH: I’ve always been a little bit a rebel and a bit of a free soul. And joining a very established organisation that would’ve wanted me for two years exclusively I just … I’d never had to do that in my life. I probably could do it now. If Eastenders came up now and wanted me for five years I’d be very happy! But back then I just could’ve not done it. I would’ve regretted it.
LORNA: Well, there’s many things you have done, you’ve squeezed in throughout your career … tell me about your love of the paranormal because you were in "I’m Famous And I’m Frightened" -
TOYAH: (laughs) Oh yes!
LORNA: We you frightened? You are famous but were you frightened?
TOYAH: Well, yes I was because they put us in a castle and I should remember this castle, I drive past it almost daily! That was supposedly the most haunted castle in the country and we stayed five nights there. And I was very cold, this was in February and it was February about four years ago and it was spooky! But I don’t kind of go out on a limb to kind of do this regularly. This was a one off. But it was very very spooky. And very kind of spine-chilling.
LORNA: So you’re a believer in the paranormal?
TOYAH: I do believe that there are certain areas that definitely things happen that you can’t explain. Absolutely!
LORNA: And another one-off: "I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" in the jungle! (below) (laughs) Did you enjoy it?
TOYAH: Yes. Erm, enjoyment isn’t the right word but it’s an experience I knew I would never have again. And 17 million viewers, I mean I work to be seen so I was definitely on the right job that time!
TOYAH: I was fascinated by the technology because everyone of us, and there was 14 of us in that jungle, had 32 cameras on us 24 hours a day. And there’s these bizarre things going on. They have Australian SAS hiding in the bushes to make sure we don’t get bitten. Or if we are bitten by anything poisonous, they can get help to us immediately.
LORNA: I ever knew that …
TOYAH: And secondly that we can’t escape and I suppose (hesitates) TV terrorists can’t get in and do damage. So it’s a highly secure unit. It was very very exciting! But enjoyed? No! I was cold, I was wet and I was hungry. I lost 10 lbs in weight doing that show which is a pretty extreme way of going on a diet.
LORNA: Did you add it back on when you got back out?
LORNA: As soon as you got to the hotel!
TOYAH: As soon as you got out, they take you out, they put you in a caravan where a doctor examines you and checks that your heart’s healthy, your blood pressure is right. And then there’s all this gorgeous chocolate in front of you. And I just ate and ate and ate! (Lorna chuckles) I soon put that back on.
LORNA: I do wonder as well, I spoke to you couple of years ago now on the afternoon programme and we spoke all about your insomnia. And you were on the search (below "Tonight: How Do You Sleep?") to get yourself a full nights sleep. You told me it had been 36 years since you’d had a full night sleep. Did you ever find the answer to your insomnia?
TOYAH: Well, funny enough in the jungle I slept brilliantly -
LORNA: Did you?!
TOYAH: Because there was nothing else to do. And I really enjoyed sleeping in the company of all those other people. There was something really comforting about it. But I’m still insomniac, I just get up when I wake, I don’t bother lying there trying to do nothing. So this morning I was up at 5 doing my email.
I have an office in my home so I just get up and start communicating with America because my band has albums out in America and we’ll be touring in America. So I can just get up and do a lot of work.
LORNA: Very very productive. You need a little sleep by the sounds of it?
TOYAH: I think I need less sleep than most people.
LORNA: I was going say - were you more driven or more ambitious and more full of life in your twenties? By the sounds of it your still nifty in your 50’s?
TOYAH: Well, I think in my 20’s it was a different kind of ambition and a different kind of drive because technology has made my life faster. I’m far busier now today and I think that is because of technology. It’s almost speeded up my life fifty fold. It’s just ridiculous!
I am in my office sometimes from 3 in the morning till 10 at night. And that - it’s dealing with the jobs coming in. And I’m doing concerts the whole time. I have albums I have to write the whole time. My first novel is out in the summer. And this is because technology has made everything so accessible. So I’m definitely a nifty 50!
LORNA: I think lots of people are. Lots of listeners of the afternoon programme are. I look at my parents and they probably have more fun now than they did when my sister and I were growing up. They’ve kind of got the kids to leave home and they’re having whale of a time!
TOYAH: I definitely have more fun now!
LORNA: Do you?!
TOYAH: It started in my 40’s and I’m now 52 and I think it’s to do with confidence. When I was in my 20’s I felt the need to live by other people’s opinions and everyone had an opinion and everyone was telling me what to do. It really kind of weighed on my shoulder, it had a weight, it had a tangibility. But now in my 50’s my confidence has come from me. I know who I am and I know what I want to do.
I have incredible respect for time and I’m very - I like my time to be lived to the full. Most people in their 50’s feel younger than they actually are. And for me the clock stopped when I was 25. I don’t feel older than 25. I am traveling more, I see my friends more, I go to different places, I have these lovely short brakes which are so fashionable. I’m enjoying myself a lot.
LORNA: In a way are you sacred of growing old because you have been quite open and you’ve even written a book about it, about the fact you had a facelift?
TOYAH: That’s nothing to do with being scared. That’s about embracing technology and re-inventing yourself. I’m not growing old because I’m relatively healthy. I’m scared of loosing my health because I love working and I feel defined by my work. And luckily, you know, I still can work.
Many many 50 year old's are coming into their own in this decade. Unfortunately the media I choose to work in, erm, highlights what life is like for 20 year old's and perhaps 30 year old's. But you don’t get much evidence of 50 year old's who are really enjoying themselves.
I think it would be lovely if we had 50 year old role models or people I their 50’s who were role models. Because I invested in this decade by eating sensibly in my 30’s. I wasn’t sensible in my 20’s, I drank a lot, I partied hard and I lived hard. But by my 30’s I started to live organically and I started to really value what I put into my body and I think pay the price well for that now in my 50’s.
LORNA: Fantastic! Toyah, still nifty at 50! Will you be treading the boards in Panto this Xmas?
TOYAH: Yes, I’m in Malvern (Theatres in Worcestershire) (above) doing Sleeping Beauty -
LORNA: Who are you? Not the evil witch?
TOYAH: I’m the bad fairy, yes!
LORNA: Oh boo! You play it so well though! (laughs) Toyah, it’s been a pleasure. Thank you being our Big Entertainment Guest.
TOYAH: Thanks Lorna!
LORNA: And stay nifty in your 50’s!
TOYAH: I certainly will!