BBC RADIO WEST
WITH MARK REGAN
BBC RADIO WEST
WITH MARK REGAN
MARK REGAN: I’m joined now by Toyah Willcox. Good evening Toyah!
TOYAH: (on the phone) Good evening! How are you?
MARK: I’m absolutely rocking and rolling. Nice to hear you! Now then … obviously everybody remembers you from your singing days, very high profile and that kind of stuff. And you’ve been on "I’m A Celebrity" as well but the reason we’ve got you on this week is because you are also a bit of a champion of “Women Who … “ and business and entertainment, that’s an issue close to your heart?
TOYAH: Absolutely. I think it’s always good to just get up and talk about what you do and I’m basically a singer and an actress. What the public never see is I’m also a business woman. I’m giving a talk at Birmingham Commerce on Friday about longevity. I’m talking about how you work for a long time. Not just work as a pop star for a few years and then just go into the wilderness. I’m talking about how you re-invent yourself and how you run a business.
MARK: I want to get under the skin of this because you made your headlines in the way of the pop music which is far from an easy industry to make any kind of headway in. We’ve had loads of headlines about women in football. Sian has been criticised as we know, over the weekend, had to be withdrawn from the game because of comments made by Andy Gray, he’s got the sack. How difficult is it for women to get over this kind of sexism?
TOYAH: We are talking about two women who are in a very male dominated career (laughs) and good on them. Sexism is definitely there and you have to let it roll off your back and get on with it. Which is kind of my approach. If I have to deal with someone who is nasty to me I tend to just ignore them and get on with my life.
But if it’s something that’s terribly damaging or physically endangers you them I’m so glad to hear that in this particular case the comments have been addressed. But rock’n’roll is incredibly sexist! You just have to listen to songs to hear the sexism!
And there is ageism too but I think it’s how you deal with it. If I stopped my career in its tracks every time I had to deal with sexism and ageism I wouldn’t be getting anywhere. I would be fighting every day. I just get on with dignity and I’m a creative person and I have a lot of autonomy what I do but I’m not going to waste my time with bigoted idiots. I just get out there, I have an audience and I work with my audience and I’m very good at business as well.
I’m amazed how large this argument has become today and I’m amazed how stupid the people were who made those comments. We are in a very modern world and we’re in a world where women are proving that they are very good at what they do.
MARK: Are you surprised Andy Gray has got the sack?
TOYAH: I am a little surprised. I think it’s very harsh. I was talking to someone who knew him today and the general consensus was that we all, in this day and age, we all need to keep in check what we say and what we do. We’re in an ever changing culture. We’re in an ever changing way of how we perceive men and women of many many cultures.
We all need to re-learn how we were brought up 40 years ago. I think it’s very harsh that he has been sacked. It’s sad but I suppose he’s been used as an extreme example and he’s had quite an extreme punishment.
MARK: I’m surprised to hear you say that you’re quite sympathetic to him from what you said about –
TOYAH: Oh God! You should hear about what they’ve said about me daily! I once had a manager go on-line to a web page called celebrity skins and he phoned me up and he said "I’m not paying $16 to see you naked." You get it every day! I’m 52 and if I don’t keep my weight in check, my wrinkles in check - I’m going to get a pain in the neck from the opposite sex!
But a part of me accepts that and part of me deals with it and 99% of me ignores it. But if the opposite sex ever made me feel unsafe or uncomfortable then I would do something about it. But the majority of the time it’s said in humour.
MARK: I think there’s too sides to this. There’s the being offensive side to it as well but I think the more condemning is the denial of opportunities to people, particularly women. What’s going with this at the moment: lines woman Sian Massey, through no fault of her own, has been withdrawn from officiating a game of football because of something somebody has done because of her sex!
TOYAH: I totally agree with you there. That is the point and that is the very serious issue. When you look on Sky News today the point is that women are exceptionally good and well informed at what they do. They are fair and honest. And that is the point: if you do the job well it really shouldn’t matter what sex you are.
MARK: Are these the kind of issues you’ll be addressing on Friday?
TOYAH: I’m not going to get up and give a kind of militant “men must die” speech –
MARK: Let’s hope not!
TOYAH: (laughs) But I am going to talk about how I’ve had to combat ageism since I was 23. I was 23 when a camera man first told me I needed plastic surgery to get rid of wrinkles! And it is endemic in showbusiness but I also hope I’ll be giving a very funny and inspirational talk as well.
TOYAH: Yes! Yes, oh gosh, sorry I had no idea what the date is today! (Mark laughs) You are dead right!
MARK: Don’t miss it! (Toyah laughs) It won’t be the same without you!
TOYAH: I’ll be there!
MARK: Fantastic! Toyah, thank you very very much for joining us this afternoon!
TOYAH: Thank you Mark!