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New In The Archive

PARKINSON, BBC1 October 1981
SOUNDCHECK Issue 1, 1983
BBC RADIO ONE With Annie Nightingale and Sting 3.10.1983
BBC RADIO 2 23.10.2021
METRO 60 SECONDS 2.11.2021
OK MAGAZINE 22.11.2021
CHOOSE 80s @ CHILFEST 2.7.2022
HOW TO BE 60 29.7.2022 

All of the new stuff in the Archive Sister Page HERE

This was recorded in Lyon, France 3.10.1983 and broadcast in Janury 1984

ANNIE: Before I start thought I think I'd better explain how this programme came about. It's called a logistical nightmare. Or “if”. A while back I discovered that Toyah was ensconced in deepest France at a place called Limoges where she was making a film with Lord Olivier

I also discovered that for one day, The Police would be in France, and I thought wouldn’t it be nice to bring Toyah and Sting together again, particularly as they’d started out as relatively unknown actors in the film "Quadrophenia"

The Police were going to be in Lyon. If you look at your average map of France, Lyon is only about an inch from the Limoges. So, no problem, I thought. Well, this is where the “ifs” really began

Sting, I discovered, would be able to meet up with Toyah if the studio in Lyon was not too far from the airport and also if it was not too far from the Palais des Sports where he was playing that night

Toyah would be able to fly to Lyon if her filming schedule allowed her to leave Limoges to catch the one evening flight to Lyon if that arrived in time for her to meet up with Sting

Well, with nothing further resolved I went off early on Monday morning on a wing and a prayer to Lyon. I spent all day chasing round the place, managed to lose Toyah at the airport and in the process despairing that I won't ever see her again I made my way to the Palais des Sports

As I arrived here sitting in a car right in front of me was a very bewildered looking young lady with bright red hair. It was Toyah. The Police were about to go on stage and this is what happened afterwards

ANNIE: It was a very strange sensation having Toyah and yourself within a few feet of each other. Toyah watching you on stage

TOYAH: I was having a bop!

ANNIE: Yeah and I just wondered how you, as a performer, react watching somebody else

TOYAH: I was jealous (giggles)

ANNIE: Of what?

Well, I haven't performed on stage for almost a year now. Not with the band. The stage crew and the band's whole attitude on stage. I thought it was wonderful

It was a lovely show tonight. I mean, I thought oh, God I hope I come tomorrow

TOYAH: Your stage crew are wonderful! They were so there! I love the guy who was passing your your basses and then went on and played himself. I mean, what an ideal man

STING: He knows all my bass parts. In fact, when I broke my fingers -

ANNIE: That was in Edinburgh. Yeah, I remember -

STING: My roadie came on and did the whole set. He knows every nuance of my – he’s watched me for five years

ANNIE: He's really been there … Is that Danny or Geoff? I can never remember -

STING: It’s Danny. And Geoff did the same when Stuart was sick. We did a concert in France. The drum roadie played the gig -

(Annie and Toyah talk at the same time)

ANNIE: I think that's a great compliment to you too that they’ve studied -

STING: Thank God they don’t sing. I’d be out of a job -

ANNIE: Seriously, the reason that I have brought you two together under an incredibly difficult -

Sounds like a marriage ceremony! (Toyah giggles)

It does, doesn’t it? (Sting sings the first line of "Here Comes The Bride") Your film careers actually took off at the same time in the same movie called “Quadrophenia” (above) Now Toyah, first of all, I want to know what did you think of him when you first met him?

Sting was the person everyone had a crush on. Not me of course. But all the young girls sort of idolised Sting and there was a guy called Phil Daniels playing the lead, who sort of had to really fight in real life for the women to - not that I'm putting him down, anyone down, but that's what I remember most about Sting and of course the band was just taking off. His band. So he did nothing but talk about it the whole time (makes a snoring sound)

STING: Yeah . . . I was really boring

No - he wasn't at all!

ANNIE: I can remember you telling me that you thought you were actually too old for the part when your auditioned for it

I thought that. My agent said "look, they've seen everybody in the whole of England for the part in "Quadrophenia". Why don't you go?" And I said nah . . . I'm washing me hair . . . (they all laugh) And she said "look, go! " I said I’m too old. It’s all kids! I was about 24 (laughs) But I went anyway and I met the director, who was a Geordie, and I got on with Franc Roddam and I got the part

ANNIE: What did you think of Toyah?

STING: Well, it was funny for me because everyone on the film had actually acted before and I think Toyah was probably the most experienced of that bunch. Is that true?

TOYAH: Yes, most experienced yet at the same time I think I felt very outside because I'd spent a lot of time concentrating on on my musical career. So at the time of doing "Quadrophenia" I hadn't acted for some time I don't think

But you had acted?

Yes, I had acted. Well, I’d done the National and I did “The Corn Is Green” with (puts on an American accent) Kathy Hepburn -

ANNIE: Kathy Hepburn. I love that -

STING: Well, I hadn’t even been in a school play -

ANNIE: Hadn’t you?


ANNIE: Were you very paranoid in those days about it?

STING: I was pulling a fast one as far as I was concerned. I told Franc Roddam that I've been at the National, the Royal Shakespeare Company … (Toyah laughs)

(in a newscaster voice) Sting exposed as a liar! Last confession!

I was poor. So I was very wary of the whole cast, which was a good thing because I was supposed to be outside of them. Sort of an alien they all kind of looked up to. So in a way it was useful that I felt a bit different

I never for one moment thought you're older than us

Didn’t you?

No, not at all

I'm not that much older than you

TOYAH: I was going to say! (giggles)

ANNIE: Isn’t it as well to do with creating a kind of a positive thing? Him saying well, I thought it was a good thing being this alien character. Isn't it turning perhaps a negative situation into something positive?

TOYAH: You’ve always got to think positively but it’s as Sting said - it's a question of pulling the fast ones. If you can pull your lies off -

ANNIE: Have you conned -

Yeah of course I have!

Go on, tell us one

The whole time I lie in interviews to start with. Especially when I start getting bored. You know when you've got like a whole day of interviews and you get to the eighth one and you start lying. It's the only thing to do. But yes, where have I lied my way in? I think I did it at the National a bit. I had to lie to gain respect -

What did you say?

TOYAH: Because I was such a punk rocker that I had to con respectability out of people. I think I lied about my background -

What sort of background -

I remember Maximilian Schell was directing it, and he couldn't talk very good English at the time anyway, so I just lied to him that was very nice person, really

ANNIE: Now, the other interesting thing is that you both worked with Mr and Mrs Olivier. In fact, that whole reason why Toyah is in this part of France, actually - we're in Lyon, but you're visiting from Limoges, because you've been making a movie with Sir Laurence Olivier (below with Toyah on the set of the movie). That is “The Ebony Tower.” Have you read that book, Sting? It’s John Fowles, who I think is a wonderful writer

STING: I’ve read everything he's written. I like his early stuff better than the latest book, which is awful

ANNIE: I started reading it about three years ago and at the time didn't think of it as a possible movie, but now I can't see anybody else but Olivier playing a part of this old rue artiste

TOYAH: He’s brilliant. I mean, he plays a real bastard and he's brilliant. But I love people that are bastards anyway -

ANNIE: In real life?

TOYAH: No, he's not a bastard in real life!

ANNIE: No, I mean particularly -

TOYAH: If I don't have to live near them but he's very good. I mean, he's stunning. I don't know what Joan (Plowright, Olivier's 3rd wife) was like to work with. He is certainly wonderful . . .

ANNIE: Miss Plowright or Lady Olivier was of course your co-star in “Brimstone and Treacle”. I thought she was wonderful in it. Was she an inspiration to you?

It was a very good experience for me because up till then I've done small parts in movies. But I really had to jump into the first division. I mean Denholm Elliott and Joan Plowright have made hundreds of movies and they've had 1000s of stage performances. And I had to play with them in a three cornered fight. So I really had to get up to their standard and the thing about great actors is, they give a lot

The less good actors don't give you anything, but a really great actor will because it's, I think, it's about give and take. And they just gave me so much and they gave me so much confidence and so much help. Not by pointing things out all the time but just by being humane and human. And I just learned so much from them both (A clip of “Brimstone And Treacle” plays)

ANNIE: Are you nervous when you're acting, Sting?

STING: I'm still very much a novice. Yeah, I mean, I've made five movies now

ANNIE: It sounds quite a lot really -

STING: Well, considering most actors learn their craft in the relative privacy of the repertory theatre and they do a play every night -

Have you done any theatre yet?


ANNIE: Would you like to?

STING: No! (they all laugh and talk at the same time)

TOYAH: The only thing that caught me off at one point during “The Ebony Tower” was you’ve got to pull your socks up to work with people like the Oliviers. You just can't get away with it. You can't bluff your way through that kind of acting. I thought my God! I've got to really work if I do this film and it's lovely. It's such a demanding thing to do

ANNIE: Don’t you think it actually drags -

TOYAH: It emotionally pulls you apart, which is what every actor and actress needs and it just stretches you but beyond every limit. It's beautiful

(to Sting) Why are you so anti doing theatre?

STING: I was only joking. It was an ironic no

ANNIE: I know. I remember reading something. You bumped into my old mate, Adam Faith (and he) told you you ought to do that, right?

Toyah and I are in a similar situation and that we've had parallel careers and we're lucky. But we've still got to make a big leap and many people will take you seriously as a musician or they'll take you seriously as an actor. But rarely will they take you seriously as something in between. You have to make the jump -

ANNIE: You're like a geometric pattern because you’ve both approached it from the opposite direction, haven’t you? Because you were more established as an actress, Toyah, before the music -


ANNIE: And Sting vice versa. So it's a very fascinating situation. How's it going to happen? How are you going to do it?

STING: Bit by bit. You have to chip away at people's preconceptions and misconceptions about you. I think you don't have to be intelligent to be a rock and roller. You don't need to be intelligent to be a good rock and roller even -

Does help though -



Because some of the most stupid people that ever existed were really good at rock and roll

ANNIE: Dare you say who you mean? (Toyah laughs)

No, of course I don’t. I don’t need to. But
then again -

ANNIE: I don't see how honestly you can substantiate that because I would think -

You’ve got to have an ounce of brains -

One of the thickest people I ever met was (puts his hand over his mouth and mumbles)

TOYAH: You’re really limiting the names now! (giggles)

ANNIE: I knew it would get bitchy! I knew it would!

The great thing is that I find that if one area gets successful, you start to build the other area up. I, just within England, had to slow the band down at one point so that's when I went onstage with “Trafford Tanzi” (below) and started getting me as a person back together again because I found that the ridiculous success I had in England made me forget who I was

ANNIE: (To Sting) I must talk to you about “Synchronicity” – not the album so much as the word and how much it means -

Synchronicity was a term devised by Carl Jung, who is a Swiss psychoanalyst and he believed that there was a pattern to life that was perhaps larger than most of us can see. And so he collected together a series of coincidence. Lists of coincidental phenomena, great long scientific graphs and all kinds of things. Synchronicity is about a coincidence or two events that are connected symbolically but not causally

ANNIE: Acausally, yeah

For example, in my song “Synchronicity”, there are two parallel stories. One story is about a man who's going nuts with this suburban hell. And the other story parallel to that is the growth of a monster in a lake somewhere in Scotland

The monster comes out of the lake as demands and anxieties and frustration grows, so he becomes pathologically dangerous when the monster comes out … and I’m using all these hand gestures on radio (chuckles) And that’s what synchronicity is. It’s two things that are connected

ANNIE: What attracted you to that?

STING: I think it’s a fascinating idea. There's a lot of coincidence in my life, a lot of kind of fate takes a hand. It's an interesting idea

ANNIE: Well, it's a new word to a lot of people but ever since it's been sort of put over via the record it's amazing how you start linking things up and thinking well, that’s strange. But then you think well, which has come first? Was it always there but you used to call it coincidence

Well, it’s a syncronitic event tonight. We're a day off but October the second, which is my birthday and it was yesterday … 1977 is when we were doing "Quadrophenia" (below, Toyah just behind Sting on the left)

Oh really?!

STING: And my birthday was also the day that I flew from Brighton, where we were shooting the film to Manchester to do the Old Grey Whistle Test, which was our first television appearance I think. And I was going to use two singers and I thought I'll use Toyah Willcox, who's in the film and another girl who was also part of the film -

Tammy Jacobs

STING: Was that Tammy? So I rehearsed them the day before. And she (Toyah) was going to be in it. But then it all fell through. It was a very strange day. I sprayed my eyes with metallic paint and I was blinded for about an hour

That was the first time we ever met as well. That is . . . you see really . . . OK! I believe ! I believe! I always remember that bit about Whistle Test but I didn't know about Toyah. That is extraordinary

STING: (To Toyah) You could have been in The Police (Toyah laughs)

ANNIE: Oh, how do you feel about that Toyah?

TOYAH: I’ve got to say I remember at the time I was so excited for you doing your Whistle Test and everything. I didn't for one minute think about me being in The Police. I was genuinely really pleased for you till you came back and said you’d blinded yourself. You said it was a bit of a nightmare

ANNIE: Quite an interesting day

STING: So that was my birthday

ANNIE: I think it was 78’ but let's -

STING: Was it?

ANNIE: There must have been other instances too which have aroused your interest in this business

Oh, loads. All the time. I think your career is - if it's not circular it's like spiralling up. You keep turning around and around and higher and higher evolutions and you meet people on the same sort of path. Bit like success. I suppose you meet them on the way down as well (makes a sad noise)

It’s nice to think it’s a spiral - I just keep thinking (about) the ladder where you can only go rung at a time. Whereas if it's spiralling things can go up or down either way without you quite noticing. It's a nice image. I’ll forget that and use that one

Have either of you ever worried about - because you’ve both spiralled up so far very, very successfully. Are either of you worried about spiralling down?

Yeah. That's what keeps you going, really. Does for me anyway. My ambition is powered on never wanting to slow down or stop working, ever. And when I get days off I get the paranoia so I get . . . oh God, I can't survive anymore. Lack of success means no work. I’d go and scrub someone's floor, just something to do if I had a day off. I’d go mad!

STING: Yeah . . . I scrub a lot of floors

ANNIE: You've admitted lots of times, Sting, that you are very ambitious. Is it getting stronger or has it slowed down or is it on an even keel now?

I think what I'm rehearsing for, practising for, is the ability to walk away from it in fact. I'd like one day to say I've had enough of this. I’d like to do something else

TOYAH: It’s very hard to walk away from it -

STING: It’s very hard to walk away but I think you have to prepare for it because there's a moment in your career when . . . you can't go up and you can't stay still

TOYAH: But you can go sideways

Yeah, alright. Sideways . . . but then who might want to? I might sort of walk away

See, when I feel I can't face the music industry anymore I go into the acting and vice versa. I can't face the acting anymore and I go bounce off the music wall. It's just like a ball you’re bouncing off different walls the whole time. But I could never walk away. I'd like to one day say right, I'm content and I'm just going to settle down and enjoy life

Could you enjoy life without doing what you're doing?

TOYAH: No. I've decided quite recently that I'm going to have a kid before I'm 30. I think that's very important

STING: I’ll give you a hand (they all laugh, Toyah is dying with giggles) (puts on a silly voice) It’s a talent I seem to have

ANNIE: (laughing) Anyway, you both write songs and Toyah you've been saying to me that with your latest album - having established a lot of imagery in the past and your songs in the past - that with “The Vow” for instance, you're trying to change all that

TOYAH: I'm trying to learn to write directly and simply whereas I've been using images to hide behind and also images - you can take an image and it will mean something to you and something totally different to someone else. And you can always use that as an excuse. Oh, make your own meaning up out of it . . .

With this new album “Love Is The Law” I've tried to work it from basic emotions, which the most basic of all really is love and hate and that's what I’ve based the whole album on, which has been hard for me because that's the subject I've always tried to avoid

ANNIE: Your kind of imagery has been very, very strong in the past. Sting’s has been - sometimes you write very directly. I feel I know what “Wrapped Around Your Finger” is exactly and and there's four lines in that which are absolutely beautiful - which I listened to over and over again. “Devil in the deep blue sea” etc which I think works very well. You seem to communicate very clearly what you're on about but is that just me thinking that I understand? Do you want people to know what you actually meant?

STING: I think I wrote two kinds of songs. One is very simple. It's almost a tonal code. It's very easy to understand. And another type of song, which is deliberately … intricate and difficult. And you have to work hard to hear what the words are and work out what they mean. I think an audience has to be implicated. It needs to be drawn into the mystery. But sometimes, I like to write very directly

(Can’t Stand Losing You plays)

ANNIE: Well that’s pretty direct in its meaning - one of the very early Police hits “Can't Stand Losing You”. But I think it takes immense bravery to write about real emotions

Immense understanding. It depends how selfish you are really. When you get down to real emotions . . . I didn't feel I had any but they’re slowly coming out is I'm starting to mature, I feel. And my … what is it? ... Inhibitions are breaking down very fast, and therefore I can open up and be a book that has -

ANNIE: That’s exactly what I meant. As I say, I feel that often, Sting, that your songs are like an open book. But maybe they're not . . .

STING: What - do you think I'm being too confessional?

Not too confessional. I don't think anybody can be. As I say it takes tremendous courage to do that. Because you’re really like baring your soul to everybody and say “this is how I feel!”

TOYAH: There's one of yours tonight, and I thought that was great. I think it was “Don't Stand So Close To Me” because I never really got to hear the lyrics and I thought it was that open lyric. It was wonderful. Because everyone has those fantasies. And I think you can hit a line where you're not being too brave because your audience has to admit they have those emotions too

ANNIE: When you're writing, both of you, do you think well, this actually could be a parallel situation where everybody else - or not everyone but a lot of other people … you do?

I write sometimes for a specific group of people

ANNIE: Really? What kind of group of people? (they snigger) Like Roman Catholic priests?

Dustmen. Well, I mean “Don’t Stand So Close To Me” was written for school girls, obviously. “Every Breath You Take” was written for those who have experienced unrequited love -

ANNIE: Why did you do the video in such an angry way? I was very surprised -

STING: Angular?

ANNIE: Angry (sings in an angry voice) “Every breath you take!” (Toyah laughs)

I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle little love song and really it’s about jealousy and surveillance and 1984

Toyah’s - in the past songs - if there's one word that sums it up, I’d say mountains. You always sort of imagine great vistas about your songs -

Like a biblical epic (Toyah laughs) The 10 commandments

ANNIE: Oh, by the way, another bit of coincidence if not synchronicity is that you have the same people doing your videos, which is -

TOYAH: Really?!

STING: Well, only the best!

ANNIE: Godley and Creme obviously I'm talking about. They made you drive a chariot, didn't they?


ANNIE: Which song was it?

It was “Thunder In The Mountains” (below, screen caps by toyah.net) I said I'll drive my own chariot, thank you very much and it was wonderful -

ANNIE: Having to control the horse which you'd never done before?

Yeah, we just get on and hope for the best

STING: That was Godley and Creme in a suit, not a horse (Toyah giggles) They are the best. They’re really are inventive. You give them a brief, you say what your interpretation is and they're faithful to that and yet they add so much of their own energy and enthusiasm to it that they're wonderful to work with

And they can take the imagery off at a tangent that still makes the lyric work at its home base. It's like for “Rebel Run” they came up with the imagery for that. I just said I've got this really boring lyric about 1984 - what am I going to do with it? And they said "be a woman roller derby skater and just bash the hell out of yourself"

ANNIE: Yeah, I don't care what you say about them being the best or whatever but I still think it seems very strange or maybe it is synchronistic that of all the video makers that there are around - and there's an awful lot of good ones - that you have both chosen Godley and Creme to direct yours!

: There's another synchronistic event which is that the colour of Toyah's hair, which is of a flaming carrot at the moment, is exactly the same shade as mine was a week ago. I had mine done for a film called “Dune” where I play this raving queen. And she's in this movie with flaming red hair as well. We just cannot get away from each other

I fell out with somebody over that but very seriously, because I said I can't believe the characters because I just thought the name - I know it sounds very sort of simplistic but I found that the name sounded so unreal and unbelievable. So go on, convince me why you wanted to do it -

I don’t have to defend the book or even the film. I think a lot of people sort of find a religious theme in the book and that they're obviously very partisan and extremely … what’s the word? Excited by everything in it. And there are other people like myself who are indifferent to it

I think it's a very well made book. Very clever book. You create a planet with its own histories and geography, its own ecology and history and politics and whatever. It's a very big achievement. But if you don't believe in it, you don't believe in it, Ann

That’s right

Is it TV or -

(puts on a silly 1930’s voice) This is the biggest movie in the history of Hollywood and it’s costing $15 million, kid

How much do you get?

STING: Most of it (Annie laughs)

ANNIE: And obviously it’s you and Francesca Annis. Is she very nice?

STING: She is a wonderful woman -

ANNIE: I thought so -

TOYAH: (they all talk at the same time) There’s some great pictures of yourself

STING: My body?

TOYAH: With wings on

STING: Yeah. I wanted to be nude

ANNIE: Did you?!

STING: I wanted to be nude in that film. Holding my nose -

ANNIE: Why wouldn’t they let you?

STING: Because they want a PG rating

TOYAH: What does PG mean?

STING: Parental Guidance

ANNIE: Yeah, so it gets a bit bigger theatre -

: So they stuck this leather winged jockstrap on me. And I was having a shower at the time. But still …

ANNIE: It's probably far more erotic than if you hadn’t anything on -

STING: It’s very camp -

TOYAH: It’s a great picture because he’s laughing his head off -

ANNIE: Toyah has also just stripped off -

TOYAH: (annoyed) I haven’t stripped off

ANNIE: No, I’m sorry, it’s very -

I lie in the long grass reading a book basically while I let that Greta Scacchi get on with it -

STING: Get on with what?

Well, the rest of the scene. She hasn't got anything on either

Not a stitch on? Sounds like my kind of movie (Annie laughs) Has Olivier got clothes on?

TOYAH: Of course he has! It's very tastefully done, but it's just those attitudes -

(in Kenny Everett’s voice) Done in the best possible taste! I’m sure it is. Well, thank you both very, very much for coming along. It's been quite an effort on everybody's behalf

Thank you, Anne

ANNIE: And next . . . well, who knows what and who knows where

Listen to the interview HERE


JONATHAN: If I could choose just one word to describe my next guest, it would be versatility. Her music career has seen her labelled as the thinking man's punk, but she has also turned up on the big screen in such films as "The Tempest" and "Quadrophenia"

Most recently you might have seen her on TV in "Cluedo" standing in the parlour next to Colonel Mustard clutching a lead pipe. Did she do it? Let's find out - Toyah Willcox! Thank you for joining us!

TOYAH: Pleasure

JONATHAN: Last time I met you was on "Sunday Sunday", you'd been sort of forced to go around town with Paul Daniels. Must’ve been horrible for you?

TOYAH: Oh, it was terrible (the audience laughs)

JONATHAN: I was surprised because I followed your singing career. I'd bought a few of your records back in the early 80s -

TOYAH: You admit to that?!

JONATHAN: I do. I don't play them anymore but I bought them (Toyah laughs) But because then you started acting and I thought you just started acting but you'd been acting before -

TOYAH: Oh yeah, I started acting when I was about 18. I was at National Theatre in a play with Kate Nelligan, directed by Maximilian Schell. Got very good reviews. Then I formed a band and started to have hit singles

JONATHAN: And then after that - your acting probably is just as important now I guess as the music side, if not more so?

TOYAH: Both acting and singing are really important. I just want to do both really well and I think it takes a lifetime. You just have little obstacles in your way, especially with singing like ageism and sexism and stuff like that. But you just get on with it and do the job

JONATHAN: So do you find that now - you're getting on a bit, you're a bit older than you were ... (the audience laugh) We’re all getting slightly older ...

TOYAH: I'm very optimistic. I find singing - it's a tough industry to work in. And I think by female terms in the music business, especially the pop business I'm getting on a bit, but I'm not going to go away

JONATHAN: You’ve acted with some great (names) but you were in a TV film with Laurence Olivier, based on the John Fowles book ("The Ebony Tower") I remember but also at the moment you're seen in the commercials for "Mum" antiperspirant (Toyah looks awkard, the audience laughs) The reason why I’m raising that is I just wonder - because I've done a few commercials purely for cash myself as well, Toyah ... (the audience laugh)

No one does it out the love of the product purely. We had (the DJ) Andy Kershaw on the show last week and he was advertising a spot cream and I think if you have to choose why go for something like a spot cream or an antiperspirant? They're not the most sexy subjects to be associated with -

TOYAH: I’d rather go for them than a bank!

JONATHAN: Would you really?

TOYAH: Yeah! I mean, number one, it was at the time when Ark was just being launched and celebrity has power. Ark was asking a lot of celebrities to try and inform the public of the power they have as consumers to stop things like CF gasses going on super supermarket shelves. The "Mum" thing came along, OK, I did it and I got paid very well and that meant it gave me the choice of what work I could do for the next few years

I made two albums on it. I could work in theatre, because usually in theatre per week you get about 50 quid to go home with and thanks to the "Mum" advert not only did I do my bit to combat CF gases, but I also had enough money to choose what work I wanted to do

JONATHAN: So whenever when anyone buys a little tube of "Mum" they're sponsoring one of your albums? Would that be … ? (Toyah cackles) Do you not think we should put a warning on the packet or something? If they’re unhappy with the deal? I'm not saying they would be but - (Toyah laughs)

TOYAH: Not only are they buying a very good antiperspirant but they're actually buying a wonderfully phallic symbol

JONATHAN: Oh, well ...

TOYAH: When we did that advert we spent the whole day trying to get me to hold this product without it looking as if it was my vibrator (the audience laughs, Jonathan looks jokingly deep in though as if thinking about it)

JONATHAN: I'd hazard a guess that the outtakes for that pass for quite a lot of money (Toyah and the audience laugh) So you're still doing music then? You have some new -

TOYAH: Yeah I've got a new album out next month called "Ophelia’s Shadow" which is kind of my answer to "Hamlet". There's a kind of big speech in "Hamlet" where -

That sounds quite a pathway to sort of - you've got one of the possibly finest plays ever written and you've got an album as an answer to it -

TOYAH: Yeah because Hamlet says to a Ophelia: “Get thee to a nunnery. Go! Get thee gone! God gives you one face - you make yourself another. You lisp, you amble, you make monsters of us.” And the way it's written Ophelia says “Oh, what a noble mind is here overthrown.”

My album has changed the inflection on that and Ophelia says (mockingly) “Oh my, what a noble mind is overthrown.” (sticks two fingers up as if to say f off) So I mean ... my Ophelia doesn't drown herself

JONATHAN: So you've made the ending a bit happier then?

TOYAH: I’ve re-written it

JONATHAN: It's kind of like the Dynasty (an 80's TV series) people would have done. “Give us Hamlet (but) give us a happy ending”. Is it that kind of thing?

TOYAH: After doing "The Tempest" with Derek Jarman – Derek completely rewrote "The Tempest" so I thought well, I'll give it a try

JONATHAN: When you look back on your earlier albums, on the kind of 80s stuff, the hit singles, "It’s A Mystery" and "Sheep Farming In Barnet", which I remember very fondly (Toyah giggles and the audience laugh) Now, what do you feel about them?

TOYAH: I don’t look back. I don't look back because I'm ashamed. I'm not ashamed, but it's history. And I think the 80s is really history. I think we are aeons away from that decade and I just don't relate to it

JONATHAN: We just put a photo up of you (below) in one of your incarnations modelling what looks to the early Gloria Hunniford – (the audience laugh)

TOYAH: Yeah, that's the early "Mum" advert -

JONATHAN: It’s the full under arm expose – I see that

TOYAH: Use "Mum"! I just don’t look back. What's the point of looking back? Life's ahead of us. Life I think is a pretty short thing whether you live to old age or not - it goes really quickly. What's the point of looking back?

JONATHAN: Another project you’re involved in … You work really hard, you're involved in all sorts of things but you're also doing something with the "Survival" (a nature documentary) programme, is that right?

Yeah, I've done the kind of - what's it called … the narration for "Survival Factor" which is on Channel 4 every Tuesday. I read one critic where the critic said “wear your raincoat if you listen to Toyah Willcox, narrating this programme” -

JONATHAN: That's because of your lisp (Toyah cackles). Because I was always surprised you had a hit single with (puts on a bad lisp) "It's A Mystery" -

TOYAH: (with an over the top lisp) It’s a mystery -

JONATHAN: Because I've had a similar problem myself (Toyah laughs) Maybe we should get together and do a duet. That'd be nice

TOYAH: I’ll take you up on that

JONATHAN: Me, you and Pete Beale from EastEnders (they all laugh) You said life is short. This show is far far shorter. Thanks for coming on - Toyah Willcox!

Watch the interview HERE


Issue 1, 1983

TOYAH: Picking Up Those Broken Pieces

“Everyone was frightened of me. If any girls tried to bitch me they knew I’d start to swing my fists. I’m becoming more intellectual about my hatreds. I’ll grow in wisdom but not in years."

"I’ve deliberately thrown my old image out of the window, all the coloured hair - you can still look good with natural hair. I won’t be dying it again when I’m 35.’”

Toyah has always confused me as much as I’ve never been able to decide whether I like the lady or not. Let me
explain . . .

From a musical level the whole Toyah concept had never managed to ring true. Her whole approach to the punk phenomenon has had a phoney wild, but not too dangerous to be family entertainment, feel about it as if the raw product has been shoved head first in a corporate machine - masticated and regurgitated out of the other end of homogenized, safe as milk, new wave. TV personality fodder.

I totally ignored this imitating little flea of a bint who kept cropping up on the box giggling and squealing, a totally prefabricated “let’s play naive” approach which had all the charm and appeal of rock’n’roll alternative to Bonnie Langford.

It wasn’t until the release of I Want To Be Free that yours truly started succumbing to the phenomenon thousands of kids and housewives had sussed out already.

The video featuring T as the axe-wielding newly-wed, trashing her cake a la Texas Chainsaw Massacre totally won me over. In true Makowski manner by the time I got hip to this lady’s trip she had become totally uncool in the eyes of the media. The flavour of the month now had a bitter edge to its taste.

So, while the music weeklies proceeded to dissect the woman’s every move with the delicacy of a morgue attendant with a blunt pen knife, I began to study her progress and became more enamoured with every move, although I must add that I still couldn’t help feeling hyper-critical too.

I listened to the the new album Love Is The Law and the single The Vow, which come in the wake of a tour and, after much wrangling and false starts, managed to track down Toyah for a quick chat in-between a hectic rehearsal schedule.

This was my first encounter with her and there was a certain amount of resistance to my interrogations. But gradually that frothy bubbly persona that has enchanted square eyes nationwide began to surface and my main concerns led me to believe that the damsel has finally matured, developing into a very entertaining realistic person who plans on being around for a long time.

The “angry young lady”, who used to spout about the arrival of the antichrist, has gone along with the coffin she used to sleep in to be replaced with a more enchanting hypnotic character who takes her music career seriously enough to temporarily abandon a very lucrative acting career in order to give her recording and roadwork total focus.

“In the early days I felt that I had to go around mouthing off”, she revealed. “It was the only way I could get any attention. Now that I’ve established myself I don’t feel I have to be so upfront any more."

"Anyway, people either love or hate me. Take the press. From my experience so far, a lot of journalists are usually so biased before they’ve even met me. I dunno, it really makes you wanna beat people up. Nowadays I’m my own critic. My audience doesn’t read the weekly papers, they’re into heavy books or Smash Hits.”

When I told her that I didn’t feel her new single was her best piece of work, considering there are so many better tracks on the album, she revealed that it wasn’t her choice of track and in fact didn’t know it was coming out until actual release.

“The thing is that Love Is The Law is our last release on Safari so I’ve come to terms with the fact that a lot of things with them are going to be out of my control. That’s something I’ll learn to live with. Two years ago we sacked our manager and since then we’ve been taking care of business ourselves."

"Since getting involved in this business I’ve never been through so much shit. Maybe it’s a case of the same old story. There’s always ups and downs in this business and if you manage to survive then there’s no reason why you can’t be around forever.”

The nucleus of Toyah comprises guitarist/arranger/songwriter Joel Bogen. “Joel and I stick together. In my situation it’s really unfair to hold a band down and prevent them from doing any other work and it’s too expensive to pay retainers when you don’t know when you’ll be doing anything again. Anyway, whoever it is, we always consider it as our group of friends.”

Now that her Safari days are over, Toyah looks at the latest album as the completion of the trilogy which began with The Changeling and Anthem. The end of an era, so to speak.

Toyah regards the change in the labels as opportunity for a fresh start, especially as far as her plan for global acceptance is concerned and this crooning chameleon has an opportunity to start afresh and present this “coming of age” image to a potentially massive new market in America.

“My style has definitely matured, my voice has strengthened and my audience … well, I really try and prevent putting them into categories; old or young, they’re all the same to me and I love them. Things are slowly coming together.”

“We’re picking up the pieces,
All the little pieces … “
(Broken Diamonds)

Pete Makowski



MICHAEL PARKINSON: First, a young woman whose vocal style could not be more different from that we just heard. Her style is theatrical, some might say bizarre. Her commercial appeal has given her three hit records this year. As an actress she's appeared on stage, screen and television. She was nominated as the Best Newcomer in Films at the Evening Standard Awards in 1980 for her performance as "Miranda" in "The Tempest"
But this is the style that gets her into the Top 10 (The video for "Thunder In The Mountains" plays) Ladies and gentlemen, Toyah Willcox! You’ve changed your hairstyle since then

TOYAH: Oh yes, I'll take my wig off. It’s my real hair now

MICHAEL: That's a new one, is it?

TOYAH: It's not new at all. I've had this since I was about 15 years old - seven years

MICHAEL: When did you first start experimenting with your appearance?

TOYAH: Well, really it started when I was probably about 11 when I suddenly decided I wasn't going to wear any other colour for the rest of my life except black. And that's because I was just going through depression from growing up. I didn't like being told to wear uniforms at school and things like that

So I used to sneak into school in my uniform - with my report card - because I was one of the naughty girls and I used to have to have a report card to say that I turned up and then I used to get changed into all black and I used walk around like a nun (they all laugh)

A friend of mine, who is a hairdresser, said “I'll do your hair for free, but you've got to let me do to it whatever I want to do”. And I said, oh, okay. The first experiment he did was he shaved the back of my head and it didn't go down well at all with my mother

MICHAEL: I bet it didn’t!

TOYAH: Not at all! I had a great pointed fringe and I've got naturally black hair, which I don't like at all so I decided to dye it pink. And my mother almost killed me that day

MICHAEL: What was the effect that you had on the populace though - apart from your mum and dad - when you walked down the street with with a bald patch and all that?

It was frightening. The bald patch came at a time when I was at drama school. I used to have to catch the bus to school every morning and I'd stand there all innocently smiling, being a nice person at the bus stop but I just happen to look like a freak. So the bus drivers - you’d put your hand out and you just saw them waving goodbye. They’d just go "goodbye" … and there’d be another finger involved ...

DAVE ALLEN (guest on the show): Do you find people have made up their mind about you before because of your appearance?

TOYAH: They could see me from miles away

DAVE: Even now – do you feel people . . . ?

TOYAH: They expect me to be instantly aggressive. They expect ignorance and perversity and so on. Like bleugh . . . just (for me) to be really horrible

MICHAEL: But what was the reason though? Why you decide to adopt this  -

Quite simply I don't like the natural colour of my hair. I think mentally I'm a brightly coloured person. So I thought if you're going to dye your hair why the hell dye it blonde or something? Why not be honest about it and dye it your favourite colour

MICHAEL: You said that you were trouble at school - you went to a private school, to a Church of England School?


MICHAEL: You came from a very respectable middle class background -

TOYAH: I am respectable I’ll have you know! (they all laugh)

MICHAEL: She’s not aggressive, is she? (jokingly, they all laugh) Your parents were quite well off, weren’t they?

TOYAH: Oh yes. It was a typical middle class family (Toyah with her dad Beric, below). I had really a very strict upbringing. I wasn't allowed out on my own until I was about 10 years old. I wasn't allowed to talk to the kids in the street because they had Birmingham accents and at that time I was talking like (puts on a posh accent) “Mommy, could have some sweeties, please?” I was just incredibly naive. It was my first experiences in the outside world that made me realise how protected I was

I was genuinely quite shocked that each time I went on a bus with my school boater on (the school uniform hat) the girls from the other schools wanted to hit me. They were so aggressive towards me because they thought oh, she talks posh, parents have got money and they really disliked me for it. And that disturbed me greatly. When I first discovered sort of the class system, I just wanted to get out of that school

DAVE: Was there a conscious effort to join the other people?

TOYAH: I didn't want to be judged by my parents property or by the colour of the uniform I wore. I wanted to be judged because I was me

MICHAEL: It seems that you must have been an outsider not only outside school, but inside school?

TOYAH: I was definitely an outsider. I had an incredibly bad lisp. I used to stutter, and I wasn't clever with words whatsoever. I was also very fat. The school bullies, who would come up to me, and they were quick with words, and I sort of just would stand there and go I want to get them back and I used to get so frustrated I just used to burst out crying

And one day, after spending many years treading school every day, because I used to get bumped a lot and pushed around, I thought I just can't take this anymore. I'm going to jump out of a window or I'm going to kill someone. So I walked into the classroom to two particular girls jeering at me. And I sort of (puts her first up) yeah, come on then ... and I just snapped and picked up the chair and wolloped her

DAVE: And you were fat at the time? So there was a lot of weight behind it? (they all laugh)

TOYAH: Yeah! But the sad thing was I had to do it that way. I couldn't do it with words. I disagree with that kind of violence greatly. But ever since that day, I was never picked on again. And I was the girl that everyone came to to sort other people out

I think that actually happens. I think where you're put to a point where all you can do is go forward -

TOYAH: I was so frightened

DAVE: People tend to leave you alone because you're breaking the rules. I remember getting chased by three kids and I thought what am I doing? I saw a big stick on the ground so I picked it up and I ran back towards them and they scattered because what was I doing?

MICHAEL: You’re the hardman. How did you in fact get into the business? Was that an ambition when you were at school?

TOYAH: Oh, it was an ambition. It started at a very early age, at about nine years. I was a dreadful liar at school. I was so bored the whole time. I just used to tell lies such as sorry I'm late, my mother got eaten by a shark (they all laugh) I used to get people buying presents because they thought I was leaving school the next week to go make a movie. And it kept the whole of this nine to five syndrome exciting because I hate that kind of timetable, that schedule

I like to be totally unpredictable. I wanted to act and sing, I wanted to do both. But the greatest thing I wanted to do was sing. The reason I wanted to do that is because I was such a nervous child that I couldn't even sing in a choir. It meant so much to me that my voice would go and I'd shake and everything. I was quite a pathetic kid really. I went to drama school every weekend from the age of 14 upwards and when I left school with my one O Level, I went to drama school full time

I was so well known in Birmingham because I looked like a freak. I mean to me I didn't look like a freak. To me I was just a nice colourful person, but to everyone in Birmingham I was either a prostitute, a mass murderer, or a complete hippie. It was just unbelievable. But my first break came when a director called Nick Bicât was trying to find someone to cast in play

It was a half hour play for the BBC and he wanted a newcomer who could sing and he couldn't find anyone in London apparently so he came up to Birmingham and was asking around "do you know any sort of young girl that stands out in a crowd?" (Dave laughs, Toyah pokes her tongue at him) And the wardrobe department at the BBC, who knew me because I used to do extra work there to help get a bit of money for drama school, suggested me and the director came to see me and I got the job

MICHAEL: And then of course you got the into the National Theatre very early on. How did you fit into the National Theatre looking like -

TOYAH: I’ve got to say it was wonderful. I don't like the building very much because it looks the same. It's all corridors and I used to keep getting lost. You'd run off stage for a quick change and find you're on the wrong floor. And you go which floor am I on and you could never find out until you found someone and said "excuse me, could you tell me where I am?" and you'd get a witty answer like "you're in the National Theatre" (they all laugh) You'd always be late for your cues on stage

I was the youngest in the company. The loudest in the company. I think in the National Theatre you're supposed to be a woman. You're supposed to have etiquette and to be silent until you're spoken to. But I instead was running around screaming at the top of my voice and being very vulgar because I am quite a vulgar person when I’m happy

My dressing room, I shared it with six other girls. You used to look out into this well, all the dressing rooms aren't sort of surrounded and you could look up to the wardrobe department and scream for your dresser or you could look across to the next dressing room and watch the men get undressed. They used to do the same with us

Next door to us was Sir John Gielgud. And one day I was very late, the clocks went back and I forgot about it and I was late for the performance. I opened my window and shouted “where's my (bleep) dresser??!” I was really panicking and I was going “come down here for God's sake and help me!” And I got this phone call and I picked up the phone and there’s this very posh voice on the other end and he said “excuse me, miss Willcox - did you know this is the National Theatre?” I went “of course I know it’s the National Theatre!” and I was looking across to see if one of the men were phoning me

And he said, “well, this isn't a zoo. So could you stop acting like an animal please, Miss Willcox. You're in the National Theatre”. I was about to swear down the phone. I was going oh come off it! Who is this? And there's no men on the phone in the dressing rooms opposite and I suddenly realised it was Sir John and I went as white as a sheet and I thought my God, what am I going to do and I just went "I'm very sorry" and I put the phone down and I never shouted again in the National after that day

DAVE: The ghost of Sir John hovering -

TOYAH: Yeah! He's the sort of person you instantly respect

MICHAEL: What about the things that run side by side in your life? The actress - you work in the National, you’ve done Shakespeare, you shoot movies and that sort of thing and then the pop star. Is there a conflict in your life about the two?

TOYAH: The only conflict is there's not enough time in the day to everything and I've got to do both. I'm trying to prove desperately that to act you don't have to look stereotype. I can look like this and still be an actress. Because I just plunk a wig on my head to hide the hair and everything. I love acting and I love singing but the only conflict is there’s just not enough time

I must confess, to be honest, as the father of young people playing your music . . . I am sort of baffled by its appeal - if I were to be frank … Do you have a purpose, like Dave said, as an entertainer, whose purpose is to entertain and to perhaps instruct people. Do you have that same purpose in your performance?

TOYAH: Oh, yeah. My purpose isn't so much political. There's so many problems in this world and kids are always being reminded that when you leave school there's going to be no work, or you're going to get mugged in the streets or something. I want kids to come along to my concerts and to forget all that. I want them to enjoy themselves. Because no matter how much unemployment (there is) etc etc you can still enjoy life. Life is very valuable

I try to put that respect, that self-respect across to my audience that don't go around beating up black people and things like that. That's not what living is about. Living is about just being very happy and coping and being with each other and helping each other with your own problems. I know what you're getting at. You think the lyrics are very diverse -

I think they're quite aggressive, some of them … and despairing

TOYAH: I don't sit down to write and think oh, I'm gonna write about this today. I sit down with a pen and paper and write the first thing that comes into my head. I find that me being aggressive and abusive to myself on stage gets the tensions out of the kids. They sit and watch me do that to myself - what they they feel like doing half the time - and it sort of allows them to relax

MICHAEL: Isn't there always a problem of course with this unfortunate group of kids that you say you want to relate to … When they look at you onstage - famous, wealthy. Do they disassociate themselves from you because you've got what they -

TOYAH: Oh God - they don't dissociate themselves at all. Number one, I do not put a barrier between me and the audience. Those audiences are - sounds a bit patronising - but they're my brothers and sisters, and I go in among them and I sort of touch them and they touch me, and that communication is so valuable. I'm nothing special. I'm flesh and blood like them. I have the same problems like them. I may be famous, but it doesn't mean you have the money. I just want to communicate with these kids. Get them to forget about all the horrible things

MICHAEL: Do you think as you get older that the rebellious streak will soften?

Oh God! I hope not!

MICHAEL: You will be middle-aged with a mortgage?

TOYAH: Put it this way: I suddenly became famous this year and I've aged 20 years this year and it shows because the workload is much heavier. I don't think I will conform any more than I have. I've only conformed to sell more records really so I can keep the band going and that to me it's not too bad a sellout because that means I've got money to make albums, which I can be diverse on. If I ever have children it will be when I'm in my 30s I suppose … but I really would pity them because I get bored of things so quickly (they all laugh)

MICHAEL and DAVE talk over each other

MICHAEL: Don’t change the hair on your head. Not for the moment anyway. Toyah Willcox, thank you very much indeed

Watch the interview HERE