Toyah just loves getting back to her roots
the early 80s, Toyah Willcox has been a name
synonymous with something. Whether it be pink
hair, alternative remedies, plastic surgery or an
iconic childrens TV show. Sam Wonfor talks
to her ahead of a return to her
Toyah Willcox is one of the first
voices I hear upon waking pretty much every
Now I dont live with the
former punk princess ... and, although I am a
child of the 80s and delighted to be so, I dont
have Its A Mystery programmed into my alarm
However, I do immerse myself in the
wonderfully colourful world of Teletubbies as the
sun rises each day ... and, as anyone who has
become a parent in the past 12 years will know,
it is Toyahs distinctive voice which opens
and closes proceedings.
As the baby-faced sunshine comes up
over the greener than green hills in
Teletubbyland Ms Willcox gets things under
way with the immortal words (in the world of
childrens TV anyway): Over the hills
and far away, Teletubbies come to play ...
And then, following whatever antics
weve enjoyed from those crazy beings who
have tellies in their tummies, she brings the
curtain, and the sun down, with: the sun is
setting in the sky, Teletubbies say goodbye,
which is particularly impressive when you
consider Toyahs position as one of the
worlds most famous lispers.
Thus, I cant let a chat with
the now 50-year-old pass without giving this
entry on her ridiculously varied and
packed-to-the-rafters CV an early mention.
Turns out, shes proud as punch
about her involvement ... just as she is about
the entries which cover her other careers as a
singer, prolific and award-winning actress, TV
presenter, author, reality television subject and
alternative therapy flag waver.
But back to the tubbies.
For me that was a massive
blessing, she says. I did all the
voices for Brum, which was also created by Anne
Wood, (who went on to create the Teletubbies).
Anne asked me to look at the
pilot she had made ... I loved it. I said this
is the new Magic Roundabout. I put that
tiny voice-over on the beginning and the end ...
and ended up having to have security guards,
she laughs before explaining.
At the time, I was filming BBC
Holiday Watchdog, and we literally couldnt
film for kids who were fans of the Teletubbies.
We were getting mobbed.
Now much as I could talk all day
about the merits of my toddlers favourite
first-thing-in-the-morning viewing pleasures, the
reason for the chat is a lot
more exciting for fans of Toyah anyway ...
the aforementioned toddler would doubtless beg to
Toyah is headlining a female-heavy
line-up at this weekends free South
Tyneside Summer Festival concert at Bents Park,
She, along with the former TPau
leading lady Carol Decker and BBC1 talent show
Fame Academy runner-up Sinead Quinn, will play on
We are doing an extended set,
So we will be putting some
real Toyah fan material from the albums
(including a couple of tracks from last years
solo release In The Court Of The Crimson Queen
and Guns n Roses Sweet Child Omine).
The thing is, is that the solo
stuff is such a different and very young energy.
And its about nostalgia.
I really, really love doing
the open-air shows. Theyre so much about
the fun side of what I do.
I dont often look back,
but I really appreciate what those songs did for
me and enjoy performing them ... and were
always trying to find new ways of making them
fresh and exciting.
Indulging in a slice of nostalgia
isnt anything new for Toyah. Since 2002 she
has been a regular on the global Here and Now
circuit which sees groups of music stars from
yesteryear (and usually the 80s) trotting out
their chart-high-risers in quick succession.
I do them all year round,
she confirms, as well as mentioning the tours she
undertakes as the star of musical, Vampires Rock
(just 50 dates this year) and those related to
her new music project, The Humans which sees her
collaborating with REM's Bill Rieflin, Chris Wong
and her husband, Robert Fripp.
The nice thing about being the
age I am, is that rather than being pressurised
into something which is being mass marketed, I
can choose to do something at my own pace because
I want to do it. Its a terrific feeling.
Apparently the new band dont
really work in the UK ... but apparently go
down a storm in Estonia and will be having a
crack at a second album and some States dates
later this year.
So with that digression sorted, lets
return to the 80s-flavoured shows we were talking
I was in Ireland for an Easter
(Here and Now) show and will also do some of the
English festivals. Its a worldwide brand
now. Its really nice to get up on stage and
do 20 minutes ... and then youre with your
friends, she adds, speaking of her fellow
We share the same band. It has
this real feeling of being a travelling family.
We are all pretty close and have got over being
We can all appreciate what
these songs have done for us.
Toyah says that far from being faced
with people of her own generation at these
regular celebrations of past pop powerhouses, she
is increasingly being greeted on stage by
Ive been noticing how
different the audiences are. They are getting
I did a gig in Shrewsbury
recently and 80% of the audience were under the
age of 30. People are discovering the music and
they like it.
Eighties music is, for the
younger generation of today, what 60s music was
Toyah Willcox plays the South
Tyneside Summer Festival at Bents Park, South
Shields on Sunday.
Also on the bill are former TPau
frontwoman Carol Decker and 2002 Fame Academy
runner-up Sinead Quinn.
The open-air section of the festivals
programme continues on July 19 with a performance
from the Soundpower Orchestra, X Factor star Andy
Abrahams on July 26 and on August 2, ABBA tribute
band Bjorn Again will be strutting their stuff
with support from S Club 3 and former 5ive singer
30th June 2009