“It’s A Mystery” plays in the background

JIM: She has a career spanning over 30 years. 13 Top 40 singles, recorded 20 albums, written two books, been in over 40 stage plays as well. Did you know that? She’s made ten feature films, presented hundreds of TV programs

Talk about wide and varied. From the "Good Sex Guide" to "Songs Of Praise". Toyah Willcox is coming to Guernsey next month and she’s with us on the show this morning. Hello Toyah! Welcome to BBC Guernsey!

TOYAH: (on the phone) Good morning! I hope you got the sunshine there?

JIM: Oh, we have actually! Today it’s a bit cloudy but we’re in for a good day with good sunny periods. Is it not sunny where you are?

TOYAH: (Disappointed) No. We seem to be in a permanent winter over in the UK

JIM: Oh, no! Which part of the UK are you in?

I’m in Worcestershire


JIM: Worcestershire. Lovely part of the world but –

TOYAH: Absolutely fabulous

JIM: Still waiting for spring?

TOYAH: I’m just waiting to get to Guernsey, to be honest

JIM: Well, we’re looking forward to seeing you really and listening to that song brings back all sorts of memories for me. Does it bring back memories for you as well?

Well, it does bring back memories but I sing it every day. I’m part of these big 80s shows and I do about 6 of them a week and it’s part of my life. The song is as much Toyah as my flesh and blood is. So there are obvious memories but there’s new memories as well

JIM: Do you ever get tired of hearing that song?

No, because I’m performing to a different audience every day and a difference audience gives you a completely different perspective on the song. I’ve never performed to an audience that felt like the night before

It’s very interesting and I respect and appreciate that song means a lot to people. In a way I’m just sharing it with the audience. I don’t own the song. I’m not saying "here have a glimpse of this", we share it and they sing along and dance along and have a really great time to it

JIM: And of course the 80s is having something of a comeback at the moment. Not just in terms of the music and perhaps people, my generation, who were brought up with that music. Loving, listening to it again but if you look at the fashions today that the teenagers are wearing - we’ve all seen it before haven’t we?!

TOYAH: I’ve been involved in this 80s comeback for the last ten years, especially musically because we’ve been doing arenas and stadiums all over the world. But for the fashion to come back I actually think oh no. I mean the big shoulders I just think are a massive mistake

JIM: Who’s your audience today in the shows you’re doing?

TOYAH: They’re incredibly young! Obviously I’ve got the same audiences I had 32 years ago but there’s a completely new generation and there has been new generations about for the last ten years

Example - last year I played massive concerts, 12 000 people in a park in a place called Shrewsbury. When they opened the gates I just saw 12-year-olds running into the ground up to the front of the stage

And they were dressed in DayGlo, they all would dress like Madonna in "Desperately Seeking Susan." They were totally dedicated fashion followers of the early 1980s. I just thought this is extraordinary because these young girls know absolutely nothing of me apart from "Teletubbies" and they want to hear the music

JIM: Does it make you feel old or does it actually keep you feeling young?


TOYAH: Nothing makes me feel old other than ageism within television which we won’t go into - which is something I permanently fight for and against. But I don’t feel old. I feel fabulously well informed and intelligent and I have a fabulous background in what I do. I feel very valuable in the work front. And that’s just me talking as a protest member of the female race

JIM: You talked just now about the fashion faux pas that perhaps some of the teenagers are going through today. You were part of that punk era, weren’t you?

Oh, yeah! Wholeheartedly! I mean I wore outrageous things!

JIM: Do you look back now and think “why was I wearing that?!

No. It was perfect for the time and it was perfect for that age group. You look at these young girls and the one thing they are - they’re covered up. I just think well, that’s good because if I was a mother I don’t want to see girls dressing like glamour models. I want to see girls being independent, strong and looking forward to a great future

I dressed up outrageously and it suited me for that age group but I wouldn’t dress up like that now. I tend to dress quite outrageously but I brought it into my age group. I’m 52 in May and I still like to dress outlandishly but it is actually slightly age appropriate

JIM: Was there a rebellious streak to you, were you doing -


JIM: Were you doing that to make a point?

Absolutely! I didn’t want to dress like Farrah Fawcett Majors! I mean back then girls had be pretty and they mad to demure so I was part of a wave of artists that just turned that on it’s head! We were power dressers

JIM: What was it like on appearing on shows like Top Of The Pops and doing the circuit at the height of your career when you were having those Top 40 hits?

TOYAH: Well, I’m doing the circuit now. I’m playing to more people now than I did 32 years ago

JIM: That’s interesting!

It is interesting. I now run my own record label and sign my own material and I’m doing just as well as 32 years ago - but that’s thanks to the internet. Back then it was all I ever wanted and everything was a first time experience

Therefore it was a really magical experience. To go on Top Of The Pops, the greatest music show in the world that should still be running today - it was absolutely wonderful. Back then TV gave you the coverage you needed to be in the charts

It was magnificent! You are top of the world, you’re on a pedestal. You’re there with others artists like Duran Duran, Adam and The Ants, Spandau Ballet, Kim Wilde. You were up there with them all and it was really really magnificent

JIM: Who was the best person you met during those years?

TOYAH: They were all great. I didn’t get to meet too many of them because we were ferociously busy! I’d do Top Of The Pops and an hour later I’d be on a two engine plane going over to Belgium. This is what our life was like, we were country hopping the whole time

But all of them were good fun. I remember Simon LeBon being incredibly good fun. Who else? King were great fun, Bad Manners - great fun, Beat -great fun. They were just exceptional times

JIM: You do use the word fun because sometimes the rock’n’roll lifestyle can be seen as little bit naughty. Were there some naughty phases or was it just good fun?

No, I was heavily protected by having incredibly tough security so I had a very isolated existence. I’d heard that a lot of people were having fun but my fun was mainly on stage with my audience

That (fun) kind of passed me by! And I have a little bit of regret about that! I just went from album to the other and I had to write and write and write. So, no. It was hard working time in my life

JIM: I mentioned in the beginning many people will know you of course as the 80s icon, will know you too as well being an actress but I hadn’t appreciated just how much stage and film work you’ve done - and writing as well. As a child, what was your dream? Was it to be a singer? Was it to be an actress? Or what did you want to do when you grew up?

TOYAH: I wanted to be both. I wanted to act and sing and I wanted to keep them apart from each other. One of my first awakenings to the world of showbusiness was the "Sound Of Music". I sat in the audience in the cinema in Birmingham with my mother and I thought I want to sing, I want to act but I want to keep them apart. I don’t want to do musicals. And for a fair amount of time I managed to do that

I managed to have parallel careers. But one of the benefits of being in my age group now and being an established artist is I get a really lovely choice of things to do and I have a lot more fun now. But these shows, these musical shows are great fun and I feel incredibly relaxed in them. I enjoy the audience amazingly

For instance next week I’m back on a film called the "Power Of Three", which is a movie I shot last year that has to do five pick up scenes. So I have lovely variety in my life and I enjoy it very much

JIM: Talk about variety - I mean "Songs Of Praise" as well? That was something that I would’ve not expected you to do back in the 80s? Does faith play an important part in your life?

It’s probably the most controversial thing I’ve done because the religious audience is - no matter what faith you are - is the most fanatical audience. I did enjoy doing and culturally I’m a Christian, I was brought up in a Christian school

I don’t go to church today but I acknowledge that God exists. I also like that fact that non-fundamentalists hold communities together - in a good way. So I have no problem with doing "Songs Of Praise" but boy! The only time I’ve ever had hate mail and death threats was when I did it!

JIM: Really?!

Oh gosh, those audiences are fanatical! And you get Christian fanatics as well so it was a very interesting time in my life

JIM: Yeah. You’re playing over in Guernsey as part of the "The Best 80s Party In The World Ever . . . Part 2" which is taking place next month. Have you done Guernsey before?

TOYAH: No, I’ve only ever holidayed in Guernsey as a child so I’m really looking forward to it

JIM: Excellent. I’ve no idea what the audience is going to be like for this one but I imagine like you were saying, you’re going to get a real cross section of ages. People who remember you the first time round and some have been perhaps taken along by their parents as well

TOYAH: An interesting mix, because it’s me and The Beat and The Beat are kind of ska

JIM: Yeah

I think it’s a very interesting mix. It’s selling incredibly well. So we’re all looking forward to it!

JIM: Got to ask you - are you a fan of "Ashes To Ashes"? Do you have to time to watch it?

I haven’t had time to watch it but I’ve had a lot of dealing with them. They use my image on some of the programmes so I’ve had a lot of dealings with the props department but I haven’t had time to see it. I know it’s wonderful

JIM: It’s one of those things, it’s really taken me back to my teenage years and your music has done the same. It’s been great talking to you today. Thanks for agreeing to being on the show with us

Absolute pleasure and I can’t wait to be there!

JIM: We really look forward to seeing you over here next month. I will give all the details for where you can tickets from in just a moment or two. But let’s hear a bit of “Thunder In The Mountains” shall we, first? Thanks to Toyah Willcox

SONG: Thunder In The Mountains

You can listen to the interview HERE


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