TONY: Let’s talk stars on the show. Because today and tomorrow we’re going hear a chat I had last week with Toyah Willcox. She is a resident of Pershore, she loves this area and she’s had an amazing career which has seen some ups and downs. But she’s having more fun when she’s 52 than when she was 22. I caught up with her last week and we had a chat about the world in general and her secrets finding that eternal truth. So Toyah warm welcome to BBC Hereford and Worcester.

Thank you! Good morning!

TONY: Can I just say you woke me up this morning as well.

I hope I did it kindly!

TONY: You did. It was about quarter past six and I've got a little girl, who’s a year and half and she’s just getting into Teletubbies, so …

Aaaah …

TONY: It was your voice at quarter past six that lulled us into the day.

It’s not bad though is it, that is a gentle show?

TONY: It is –

It could’ve been worse – it could’ve been me singing "I Wanna Be Free".

TONY: Yes, or Thunder In The Mountains. That was one of my favourites.


TONY: When you recorded those songs, the height of your young career shall we say -

Thank you.

TONY: You were going out and you were living the life really but it seems now, if this research is to be believed anyway, that if you don’t mind me saying so - at 52 you are having the time of life. Probably more now than were then?

I am having the time of my life. I’m enjoying life more now and I sing "I Want To Be Free" still on stage in front of massive amounts of people. Sometimes up to 30 000. And I always introduce the song, I say “I can not believe at the age of 52 I am singing a song I wrote lyrics for when I was 14". I wrote those lyrics when I was at school in Birmingham. 

But I started to really enjoy life around the age of 40. I don’t know why. I always found life quite difficult in my 20’s and 30’s. Probably because people’s opinions and criticisms weighed on me quite heavily. And now I’m 52 I just feel I’m my own person.

I have an exceptional amount of confidence which I think is the same for everyone. I like to think that because there’s a lot to look forward to as you grow older and not many people tell you that. Interestingly in the news this week - research has been done. 

They researched 4000 people in their 50’s who all feel younger than they actually physically are. Who go out more, see their friends, who are away more than your average 20 year old. And I certainly fit into that.

TONY: Isn’t it strange how there was a time when you would’ve thought over 50 - it’s OK, it’s time to start thinking about retirement, coming up not too long –

TOYAH: I know.

TONY: All that’s changed now, because, let’s be honest, 52 is not old.

TOYAH: Well, it’s not old and it’s not young. When I was in my teens 52 was definitely old age. You were coming towards the end. But we are living longer, we are healthier longer thanks to technology and diet. And I do think that now 52 can realistically be claimed as the new 25. Because we all have a quality of life that is sustaining it’s energy level. 

I’m busier now than I have ever been in my life. In fact I’m probably twice as busy than I was in my 20’s. I think that’s thanks to technology making everything accessible very quickly.

Especially the world has shrunk because of technology. So I’m doing more concerts now, I’m earning a better living now than in my 20’s and I’m in charge of it! I hope it’s the same for everyone else. This thing about retirement - my work defines who I am so I’m not looking to retire. But I’ve worked in an area where it hasn’t been like work. 

I haven’t been lifting heavy things. I haven’t been working on road ways and motorways and road systems. I’ve been doing something highly enjoyable. But I do think what we are realising 50 is not the end.

TONY: Yeah.

We can still have ambitions. We can still attain those ambitions. And we can still go to night school. We can still go to college. We can still learn and we can still grow. So I like to think that we maybe we're approaching a society where every decade is respected for something special. Because I think life is a journey, it’s not an ending.

I think we need in media to see role models in the 50 and the 60 and 70 bracket. Because they are an inspiration. And they kind of help you hold on to kind of values in life. I get very dismayed when I read articles that treat age that life is over by the time you’re 30. It’s just so untrue. I think health wise you should be planning for your future by planning healthily by the end of your late 20’s.

I partied madly in my 20’s and I certainly was a heavy drinker but by my 30’s I started to realise that my diet was going make my joints sustain longer, I could control my weight therefore I would be healthier longer. 

But also this alcohol problem that we have in our culture - you’re not doing yourself any favours. To be living your ambitions and achieving a healthy life late in life, if you’re going to be over indulging very very young …

TONY: You mentioned being busy and you’re in panto of course this year at Malvern Theatres –

Oh, I can’t wait!

TONY: It’s like your second home now-

I’m going to go home every night! I can do my Xmas shopping locally, which is very important to me - supporting local shops and businesses.

TONY: Yeah. Who are you playing in panto this year?

It’s Sleeping Beauty and I’m the wicked fairy (below). So I’m made for it

TONY: (laughs) Yeah … Do you know what songs you’re going to be doing yet?

No, not yet. I bet they slip "I Want To Be Free" in somewhere!

TONY: You just know it! It’s going to happen isn’t it?

TOYAH: (laughs) Yes!

TONY: You know going back to what you were saying earlier how many people would say, if you’re over 40, it’s the downward spiral … do you think that programs like X Factor have a lot to answer here? Because the amount of time I hear kids, variably on the X Factor saying "I’ve dreamt about this my whole life and that’s it now, my life is over". And they’re like 19!

Well, I mean that is very much something that is endemic in the entertainment business. You think that if you have a failure young, the failure is for the rest of your life. That’s cultural, in Great Britain we tend to look at failure and talk about it lot and hold onto it, especially when you read about people in the papers.

But when you look at America, a failure is something you learn by and you move on. And I think with young people they must never look as if failure is something that punctuates their life as a full stop.

It’s a learning curve and you just move on and you do other things. There is always something new to achieve. And I think young people are very hard on themselves. They are in a very competitive world. There’s a lot of them out there - looking for jobs, looking for education. It’s tough and I think they need to look to the older generation as to how to get through it.

TONY: Well, Toyah, great pleasure having you on the show. Good to talk you, thanks for being with us!

Tony - it’s behind you!

TONY: Hahahah! Oh noooo it isn’t! (both laugh)


Post a Comment

<< Home