before that chirpy voice greets me, I feel I
already know more than anyone has a right to know
about Toyah Willcox .
I know she was so certain
she didn't want children that she was sterilised
20 years ago. I know she has one of showbiz's
more unconventional marriages, husband, guitarist
Robert Fripp living and working in the US while
her home - where the couple meet up periodically
- is in Worcestershire.
I know she had a facelift
in 2004, because she wrote a book about it. And I
know she has a tense relationship with her mother
because Willcox tells us so among the home truths
in a frank online diary.
accepted years ago that if her life is an open
book, no one need go digging to find any secret
"I don't get pestered
by the press. I don't have problems with the
paparazzi. There just haven't been any problems
because honesty is disarming."
Now she wants to bare her
soul about something else - the topic of women
growing old. "I feel very strongly that no
one talks about the journey a woman makes from
the age of 48 to 60. It's a mammoth
journey," says Willcox, who is 49 tomorrow.
"In Inuit culture, it is the most powerful
part of a woman's life. In western culture, it is
deemed as the hag, the termagant. But it is
phenomenally exciting and challenging.
"In the west, the
menopause is seen as some horrendous illness, but
it's there for a reason. Women become infertile
physically, but mentally I believe we become more
fertile. I'm fascinated about that. I've never
felt more ready to sit down and write than at
So why, if she is so
comfortable with the passing years, did Toyah
undergo a facelift after her 2003 stint in the
I'm A Celebrity jungle drew catty comments about
her haggard appearance?
"I had the facelift
to look well," she replies. "I was
incredibly healthy, but I was looking as if I was
terminally ill. I didn't want people looking at
me for the rest of my life asking if I was OK. My
surgery was purely to freshen me up." So, it
is no surprise to hear her say that the best time
of her life is right now.
"I love my life. I
have a fantastic time. I'm unbelievably wealthy,
I work every day and my work is an absolute
joy," she says.
At the same time as
seizing the day, though, she is also happy to
wallow in nostalgia with yet another 1980s tour,
which will put her on stage at Tatton Park, with
the likes of Bananarama and Belinda Carlisle on
"Yes, it's shameless
nostalgia. For me, it is not a dirty word,"
she says. "We are playing music that people
went to school to, had their first crushes to,
possibly their first marriage to."
It is 30 years since
Birmingham-born Willcox first hove into public
view in Derek Jarman's acclaimed punk movie
Jubilee. A part in the quintessential mod movie
Quadrophenia followed, then a string of pop hits
through the Eighties.
But her CV also runs from
Shakespeare to the Teletubbies, Songs Of Praise
to TV's Good Sex Guide. She is turning to writing
more recently, not just songs but also a book
currently with publishers and a TV drama
"I'm not an
intellectual snob. I treat everything with equal
enthusiasm. I never think I shouldn't have done a
job. Everything has a beneficial
So, what was the
beneficial side of I'm A Celebrity?
"Apart from the £1m
it made me, it led to the four scripts a week and
the average of four TV programmes a month I get
offered," she says.
At her busiest, Willcox
claims to work 20-hour days, and is constantly
turning down projects, particularly reality TV
shows and anything to do with lifestyle and
"I say no to 70 per
cent of what I'm offered. I'm planning for the
next 10 years. If it is something I really can't
get into - shopping, designer handbags or shoes -
I'm just not interested.
"I don't shop; I have
someone that sends me stuff. I don't wear high
heels. It's just not part of my life. I don't
have time to shop.
"I run a property
business in the south of France. I have a game
show business. I am writing scripts now and doing
Gates for the Here and Now
show at Tatton Park open at 4pm, while the
concert begins at 7.30pm. Tickets are £29 (with
£2 discounts for groups of ten or more. Under
fives go free). To book tickets call 0870 060
1768 or click here for the Halle show on July 28
show and here for the Here and Now July 29
Manchester Evening News
17th May 2007