ANDREW: Good afternoon, you’re listening to Andrew Easton. We’re live at the Malvern Theatres today. In fact we’re sitting in the restaurant at the moment as it is panto launch day

The star here, the headline act if you like, the attraction, the one that will get bums on seats - Toyah Willcox is with us. Good afternoon

TOYAH: Hello, good afternoon

ANDREW: Thank you for joining us. Am I right? I’ve sold this well, haven’t I?

TOYAH: You sold me more than well (laughs) I’m the person that puts bums on seats! That’s fine by me!

ANDREW: Well, a way you haven’t been described before perhaps. The "Bad Fairy" in "Sleeping Beauty". Are you always play a bad part?

TOYAH: Since I hit 40 onwards, yes, I’ve always played the baddie

ANDREW: Two years?

TOYAH: (laughs) No, 12 years! (both laugh) You just said something right, thank you very much! You’re a very kind man
ANDREW: I'll try to get this out just in case we fall out later in the interview! I’ve got to make sure! So you get to a certain age and all of sudden you go from good to bad or was it just a coincidence?

TOYAH: There’s a slight choice there. You could do the good fairy but I’m just not interested in playing the good roles. The bad roles are far more fun and it really is excellent when the curtain goes up and you hear a little voice go “I hate her!” (Andrew laughs)

It makes my day, I don’t know why! The baddie is always interesting because no matter what you do - whether you’re really charming, you’re really funny, you’re really witty or you are really bad - everyone sees you as the nastiest person in the building. And it’s great fun! It’s an absolute hoot to play the baddie

ANDREW: And for you as well, I suppose, it makes for the fact that you get out afterwards and the kids don’t want to stay around and meet you because they’re all terrified of you!

TOYAH: Very rarely do kids want to meet me afterwards. The ones that do want to meet me have serious psychological issues! (both laugh)

ANDREW: I don’t know if it’s right in saying – do they forget you started as an actress? Do they always think of Toyah in music?

TOYAH: That I can’t answer. You’d have to ask them. But I mean obviously anyone my age knows that I am a singer and I still sing. Even though ironically another thing about getting older -  for example - in Scarborough I’ve just performed to six and a half thousand people

You come off stage and people say “do you still sing?” I say "excuse me, six and half thousand bums on seats! I’ve just done a concert! What do you think I do?!"

I think it’s the way newspapers portray artists that really leaves an indelible quality on conversations backstage. But I’m still singing. I have an album out next month with my avant-garde rock band The Humans. I’m touring after panto with them. So life is busy and as abstract as it ever has been

But as for who remembers you when you come to panto ... I don’t just think that’s important because people come to panto with their families, it’s a family occasion. Secondly they’re coming to see a spectacle and it’s not about one person. It’s about the whole event

And then, perhaps grandma and grandpa and perhaps even the parents know my history but the children don’t. They don’t even know that I was the voice of "Teletubbies"

They don’t even know that I was the voice of "Brum" or "Barmy Aunt Boomerang" (below, with Richard Madden as "Sebastian"). It doesn’t matter. They want to see characters out there and they want to see the fight of good and evil. And they’re thinking about Christmas lunch and opening presents

ANDREW: You mentioned "Brum", actually, which has just touched on my favourite place in the world - Bourton-on-the-Water. Have you even been? They have "Brum" there, with the motor museum where they filmed in?

TOYAH: I haven’t been there because I did all the voices in Pinewood or Elstree (studios) I think. No, I never was even on location when they did the shoot because they film it all and get me in to do all the voice work

ANDREW: Youd did the "Teletubbies"! I’d forgotten that! You were the sun weren’t you?

TOYAH: Yeah, I just opened and closed the show

ANDREW: As the sun - not the child. As in the thing in the sky?

TOYAH: The thing in the sky. Really it’s only two lines but that has been really one of the most influential things I’ve been involved with!

ANDREW: That was a bizarre gig to get as well. Did someone ring you up one day … because that was colossal, the popularity - if we may focus on the "Teletubbies" for a moment. That was a colossal popularity for a kids show!

TOYAH: Well, the creator of "Brum" was the creator of "Teletubbies". Yeah, so that’s where the link came from

ANDREW: I read somewhere that if you hadn't been doing what you’ve been doing, you wanted to be a sculptor?

Oh, yeah! I love sculpting. I love art anyway and I’m not a natural drawer or a painter but sculpting I still have feel for. I’d love to do that!

ANDREW: I always read and try and find a bizarre fact about someone …

TOYAH: You must’ve done a lot of reading to find that one

ANDREW: I’ve been up all night! (Toyah chuckles) Did you not see this face? I haven’t slept!

TOYAH: Awww! (mockingly feels sorry for him)

ANDREW: Can we talk about music for a minute?


ANDREW: You haven’t really stopped working, it’s fair to say, aside from any voice things or acting. You are on a mission, aren’t you?

TOYAH: Well, I tour all year round but you don’t see adverts "Toyah’s doing 50 dates in two month periods". I don’t do that. I just keep going all year round. And my band appears everywhere

We’re in St Albans on Thursday and then after that we’re in Bognor and I’m in Gran Canaria singing so it’s very busy and very very varied. I tend to just hop around the world. That’s how I like it

ANDREW: Where does it go down best? I mean when you leave the UK - where do you enjoy most?

TOYAH: Well, Europe is incredibly important. You’ve got France and Germany - just massive markets and you just have to do those markets. I also have a home in France so it’s important I work there. So basically I will go and work anywhere if it pays the bills!

ANDREW: Perhaps there are people noting this down - next time they need something doing (Toyah laughs) round the house. It’s always a good one for you at Malvern because you can go home in the evening!

TOYAH: Yes! Half an hour away from where I live, it’s absolutely fantastic! It means that I can do all my Christmas shopping locally, because I like to support the local shops. I just think it’s very important. And I can be with my family on Christmas day!

Also I don’t have to get up early Boxing Day! Because normally I do pantomime venues which are four hours drive away from where I live. I can have a lie in on Boxing Day! This is going to be like holiday for me, I can’t wait!

ANDREW: It’s going to be good. And you moved here nine years ago, wasn’t it? Your roots are firmly here now?

TOYAH: Oh, absolutely! I have absolutely no intention of moving anywhere else. But you have to bear in mind that I’m off working away on most days. I’m in London at least 4 days a week

Sometimes I get back around 11 in the morning and people think I’ve just got up. They don’t know I’ve already driven to London, had a meeting and come back

I also live and work in France and live and work in Seattle so I’m going backwards and forwards the whole time. But because modern life and travel is so efficient people don’t always know that I’ve been away

ANDREW: It’s not the worst place to come back to either, Pershore –

TOYAH: When I did "I'm Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" which was 7 years ago and I was in the jungle, the only thing that kept me sane was thinking about driving up my High Street. Because I just love the High Street where I live and the thought of just driving up it lifts my heart! It’s the place I always want to come back to

ANDREW: You were in "I’m A Celebrity" when it was popular? Weren’t you -

TOYAH: Isn’t it popular now?

ANDREW: Well, I don’t think they’ve got the viewers they had. There was millions and millions of viewers when you were -

TOYAH: We had 17 million viewers for ours and I think the last one had 17 million viewers. I think it still gets a lot of viewers

ANDREW: When were you in? How early were you -

TOYAH: I was in series two

ANDREW: I can’t remember who won ...

TOYAH: 2003, Phil Tuffnel won. I was in there with Anthony Worral Thompson, Linda Barker, Daniella Westbrook -

ANDREW: It was good combination -

TOYAH: Can’t remember them all, there was so many of us!

ANDREW: Yeah. And you clearly wanted to go in which is why you did it –

TOYAH: I asked to go in

ANDREW: You asked to go in?

TOYAH: Yeah. I was touring a show called "Calamity Jane" (below) and it was about to go in the West End but we had a three week break so I asked the producers if I could go and do it

I asked both the "Calamity" producers and ITV if it would work for both of them and they said yes and I went in. I replaced John Lydon who then did the following series

ANDREW: You must one of the few celebrities, if you like, who has asked to go in - surely? 

TOYAH: Believe me a lot people ask to do it! They just won’t admit it

ANDREW: Oh, is that right? Well, actually, when you’re finished it’s quite nice. You get a couple weeks on the beach and Sydney and so on –

You can do, yeah

ANDREW: On the Gold Coast or somewhere. Next year it’s 30 years since “It’s A Mystery”, isn’t it?

TOYAH: Is it?

ANDREW: ‘81 wasn’t it?

TOYAH: ’81. Yeah, you’re right. Sorry, I haven’t taken that on board! (laughs)

ANDREW: I’ve been doing the maths, and here we are! You clearly haven’t thought about because we just did the maths there! But would there be a tour or a release or a commemoration because this year especially there’s been lots of 30 year anniversaries –

TOYAH: When I was 50 I have to say no one really cared! (laughs) So I doubt they’re going to care about “It’s A Mystery.” But I just motor on. I don’t really have expectation like that so I’m not planning a rerelease and I’m not planning any kind of marker other than I’m just carrying on!

I’ve got the new The Humans album to promote. I have book coming out next summer, so I have a lot to focus on anyway. But if someone phones me up and says "do you want to celebrate this?" then I’m the girl who’s known for saying yes

ANDREW: Just a "Calamity Jane", a girl who can’t say no. On that note we shall leave it there Toyah. Have a wonderful time in Malvern. I’m sure it goes without saying you will?

TOYAH: Oh, I definitely will. I’m really really looking forward to it

ANDREW: Toyah Willcox is the "Bad Fairy" in "Sleeping Beauty" the pantomime, tickets on sale now


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