BBC RADIO 2
IN THE AFTERNOON
BBC RADIO 2
IN THE AFTERNOON
STEVE: Delightful, talented and lovely - Toyah Willcox! Yeah! (The team in the studio claps and cheers) Haven't seen you in forever and a day – how on earth are you?
TOYAH: I'm fantastic, thank you very much! I'm very very happy, I'm having a wonderful time. I'm on the road being rude as hell every night. (Steve laughs) Just what I've always wanted to do and be!
STEVE: Alright, we'll tell people about that in just a second as to why you're being rude as hell! Last time I saw you on the telly – well, I see you in lots of different things. I see you in old episodes of “Lovejoy” and stuff like that, don't I?
TOYAH: “Minder”, “Maigret”, “Tales Of The Unexpected”. Probably holiday programmes that are repeating now as well.
STEVE: I did see the “Minder” one the other day and you played a really awful nasty punky girl, who didn't want to do anything, was morose and all the rest of it -
TOYAH: Typecast! (Steve laughs)
STEVE: No! No!
STEVE: But I did you see you of course in – was it series 2 or series 3 -
TOYAH: “Diary Of A Call Girl”?
STEVE: No, Jungle (“I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here”)
TOYAH: Oh, that was series 2 (below)
STEVE: Series 2. And who won yours?
TOYAH: Er, (makes a funny noise) Phil Tuffnell
STEVE: And did you enjoy it?
TOYAH: No. But you're not suppose to enjoy it. And I say that with a genuine kind of smile on my face, can you see it? I went in because I saw the first series and thought it was fantastic! I loved the trials, the love the way they get people to interact and I got in touch with the producers and said “I want to do this”. What I didn't expect you'd be soaking wet 24 hours a day and you'd be starving hungry. Coz I'm not the kind of person that ever wants to go hungry so it's tough!
STEVE: Couldn't you just secretly stay with Ant and Dec in the Holiday Inn over the bridge there?
TOYAH: No. Absolutely no way. No, they want you to feel as bad as possible (Steve laughs)
STEVE: Now, when I first saw you, you know - indeed worked with you on Top Of The Pops, producing and you were doing (lisps) “It's A Mystery” and all of that -
TOYAH: Watch it!
STEVE: (takes the piss lisping) It's a mystery! (Toyah laughs) but you know – what were you? What was your perception of yourself? Was the Toyah of then a performance or was she for real? Has she changed? Is she still the same? Talk me through all of that coz it would be interesting to hear your point of view all these years later?
TOYAH: I know. It's – I've had quite a schizophrenic career. I started at The National Theatre when I was 18, I've worked with Katherine Hepburn as an actress in 1978, I made “Quadrophenia” and all through this incredible healthy acting embryonic beginning to my career I had a band.
And when I wasn't acting I took the band out on the road. And we made our first album, it went to number 2 in the album charts. We never had hit singles, I was a punk rocker. Suddenly “It's A Mystery” was presented to me, we recorded and wow! Straight in! It was huge! It sold 75 000 units a day!
STEVE: And the image we had of you was almost a kind of character you played in some of the shows like “Minder” -
TOYAH: That was me.
STEVE: OK. Rebellious, lives under the arches, slightly arty, art studenty – dare I say it – now it seems like a cliché, doesn't it? But at the time I think it was for real?
TOYAH: I mean now it's a total cliché. But at that time I lived in a warehouse, I slept in a coffin (above) (Steve cracks up) and I was getting typecast. It was very arty – Iggy Pop was rehearsing at my warehouse, John Cale rehearsed at my warehouse, Davie Bowie popped in. Boy George was a regular and so was Steve Strange. So very very arty and now today a total cliché.
STEVE: But you believed in it at the time didn't you -
TOYAH: Of course I believed in it! At that time women had to look like Olivia Newton-John, had to behave like Farrah Fawcett-Major, no notice taken of them and there I was - tough as hell, kind of slightly dumpy, wearing dustbin liners, the shaved head -
STEVE: I liked you in that!
TOYAH: Terrifying people! (Steve laughs) So it was pretty unusual at the time.
STEVE: And was it tough? Was it tough for you as a woman, seriously?
TOYAH: Yeah, I'd say it was tough, certainly tougher than it is today. I'm having a lovely time today. But I think it's tough in the younger world because there's always someone else to take your place. And women always have to kind of be fighting to be heard.
STEVE: And I suppose the other thing is you might've shaped the way, or shown the way for a number of artists that came after you. Certainly in the style of the music and in your attitude and in the way that you were. I think that's truism, I think that's probably true?
TOYAH: I think we pushed that glass ceiling a bit higher -
TOYAH: We didn't break it but we pushed it a bit higher.
STEVE: Now, let's move onto “Hormonal Housewives”. This is a thing I've heard about before – haven't I?
TOYAH: Yeah, it's toured twice before.
STEVE: OK. Tell us exactly what it is? It's a show – it's a play?
TOYAH: It's a fantastic comedy evening – it's a show. It's produced as a show. It has a wonderful set, lots of music in it. It's not a musical, but we kind of dance to music and use music to kind of punctuate decades. There's a fantastic scene where we all become The Bay City Rollers and dance like them to illustrate what it's like to have Scottish aunties (Steve cracks up)
STEVE: I'm sorry?!
TOYAH: It's – yeah, I know! Well, there's three of us, we all play ourselves. I play me but we get to play six characters as well and we kind of do these little comedy sketches. I'm calling it “Chaucer for women” because it's pure entertainment.
We're not stating anything about feminism, we're not stating anything about politics and we don't have any terrible scenes or dialogue of women being abused. This is purely a celebration of women. Men are welcome because we really go on about men – how we fancy them and stuff like that. It's very very naughty.
STEVE: And change them I bet! How you want to change men?
TOYAH: Slightly! (Steve laughs) I'd say it's an 18 rating, don't bring your children. We don't swear – there's a lot of talk about female anatomy and it's hysterical!
STEVE: You're enjoying doing this aren't you?
TOYAH: I love it! (Steve laughs)
STEVE: The 2013 “Hormonal Housewives” follows from the hugely successful tour of 2012. It started at the beginning of this month and runs until the 26th of May. So you come on several times? Don't you also play some characters like Madonna? But then you come back as yourself?
TOYAH: We're all on stage the whole time and become different characters while on stage. We never leave the stage. The finale – one character plays Cher, one plays Dolly Parton, I play Madonna (above). But I play Madonna on crutches and I do a crutch dance. Now if you google “crutch dancing” it's absolutely fantastic and I feel qualified to do this because over the years I've had a lot of surgery and I have been on crutches -
STEVE: And are on crutches now?
TOYAH: Only to protect me during the daytime. I'm generally not on crutches during the show until I play Madonna and I do this crutch dance which absolutely brings the house down because I'm so athletic on my crutches!
STEVE: (laughs) See, I'm confused now!
TOYAH: Oh, be confused!
STEVE: In real life you've got a dodgy knee now so you're on crutches so then when you're on stage you're not on
TOYAH: I'm trying to work without crutches -
STEVE: Until you play Madonna who is then on crutches!
TOYAH: Who's then on crutches, coz I'm taking the mickey out of her (Steve laughs) and I'm in a leotard and everyone gets it because Madonna is so athletic. I come on completely un-athletic and then suddenly leap into life and I'm spinning round the set and I'm spinning round the sofa. Because when you know how to use crutches you can be incredibly athletic!
STEVE: And I'm sure if she saw it she'd be laughing along! (Steve laughs)
TOYAH: She would probably sue me!
STEVE: (laughs) That's what I mean! (Reads out the next venues and dates of the tour) It sounds great, I might come and see it, it sounds terrific!
TOYAH: It's absolutely lovely. It's a celebration of women.
STEVE: What are you going to be doing after that? Having a rest I would imagine!
TOYAH: Not quite! My band goes out. I've got a big song on telly at the moment with a loose weight campaign, on a commercial channel. And that song has just taken off. Patsy Kensit fronts it.
STEVE: (realises which advert Toyah is talking about) Oh yeah!
TOYAH: My band is just getting solid bookings throughout the year. So I'm on the road.
STEVE: Well that's excellent. Great! Toyah Willcox everybody! Good to see you again! (the team claps and cheers) Go and see “Hormonal Housewives” the tour!