BBC HEREFORD &
THE ANDREW EASTON
SHOW AT MALVERN
BBC HEREFORD &
THE ANDREW EASTON
SHOW AT MALVERN
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 (below) 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. I’m 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 a "bad parter"?
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 know I try and get this out just in case we fall out later in the interview, I’ve got to make sure! So was it really truthfully … you get to a certain age and all of sudden you become 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 kind of 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 perseveres 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. And the ones that do want to meet me have serious psychological issues! (both laugh)
ANDREW: And this is, people will perhaps look at … 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 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 like, 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 mean it’s just – 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 kind of 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 – firstly they’re with their families, it’s a family occasion. Secondly they’re coming to see a spectacular 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". 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 Xmas lunch and opening presents.
ANDREW: You mentioned "Brum" actually which has just touched on my favourite place in the world, is 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 have never – 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 but I mean –
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 and say … 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?
TOYAH: Oh yeah! I love sculpting. I love art (Toyah at home, above) 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: Aww! (mockingly feels sorry for him)
ANDREW: Let’s … 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 I don’t do like – 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. And I tend to just hop around the world. That’s how I like it.
ANDREW: That’s OK. Where does it go down best, I mean you leave the UK, where do you enjoy most?
TOYAH: Well, Europe is incredibly important, you’ve got France and Germany- just massive 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: That’s OK. 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: I’ll be – yes! Half an hour away from where I live, it’s absolutely fantastic! It means that I can do all my Xmas shopping locally, becauseI like to support locally. I just think it’s very very important. And I can be with my family on Xmas 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, so 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, what, just, 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 (Toyah on her balcony in Menton, below) 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 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 does get back every time, yeah.
ANDREW: Where were you then, how early were you -
TOYAH: I was series two.
ANDREW: So that - I can’t remember who won ...
TOYAH: 2003, Phil Tuffnel won, I was in there with Anthony Worral Thompson, Linda Barker, Daniella Westbrook, erm -
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" (2002, 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? OK, we’ll leave it on that although actually when you’re finished it’s quite nice. You get a couple weeks on the beach and Sydney and so on –
TOYAH: You can do, yeah.
ANDREW: On the Gold Coast or somewhere. Next year, I think I’m right in saying and I don’t want to make you think how long it’s been … but 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’m telling you now, I’ve been doing the maths, and here we are! At this day - you clearly haven’t thought about because we just did the maths there but would there any sort of tour or release or a commemoration because lots of people have been doing - and 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 you know - I just motor on. I don’t really have expectation like that so I’m not planning a re-release 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: Good, you’re saying all the right things. Toyah Willcox this year as the Bad Fairy, Sleeping Beauty is the pantomime, tickets on sale now.