being on Big Brother would be a real calamity
Toyah Willcox on her reality TV experience, and
who her fantasy jungle mates would have been
Toyah Willcox curls up on her sofa, cups a large
mug of herbal tea in her hands and for a minute or two looks relaxed. Then
the phone rings. A few minutes later it rings again. And again. And again.
Lifes been like this for Toyah ever since she appeared in I'm A Celebrity
... Get Me Out Of Here! The instant they landed back on home soil,
many of the celebrities were whisked away for five-star treatment after
enduring the dirt and deprivation of the jungle. For Toyah, it was business
She is playing the title role in the musical Calamity
Jane, which opened at the Shaftesbury Theatre in London's West End
on 12 June. And she's been so busy with the thigh-slapping, rip-roaring
show she hasn't had time to pamper herself. 'But I've been eating like
a pig,' she grins. 'I think I've been panic eating because I don't want
to feel hungry, but I've lost weight since I got back through being so
active on stage.
'The biggest irony is that, while we were rehearsing
in the dance studio, I discoverd Wayne Sleep was downstairs choreographing
Carousel. I thought to myself, "Bloody hell, can't we get away from
As someone who admits to detesting dirt and bathing
four times a day, Toyah seemed an unlikely volunteer for the jungle adventure
of I'm A Celebrity. But she was determined to do it because she's
a huge fan of reality TV. 'I love all that stuff,' she says with wide-eyed
enthusiasm. 'They're what cookery shows were in the 1990s - they're the
new rock 'n' roll.'
But being a media lab rat proved harder than Toyah
ever imagined. 'We were very disorientated, very hungry and had very low
energy. I didn't like being filmed in that state. 'It was weird to be so
closely observed, and it felt as if we were under a bell jar. The crew
listened to every word we said, yet we had no idea what they were showing
and what kind of programme they were making. I desperately wanted to keep
my dignity, but they even filmed us going to the loo.'
Toyah, 45, has watched only brief snippets of
her time in the jungle, and didn't like what she saw. 'It shocked me how
wretched I looked,' she says. 'I felt I'd aged through the experience,
so as soon as I got back I took loads of vitamins. But I've no regrets.
If it had been warmer in the jungle, I'd have done the streak, which I'd
promised the producers. That would have been hysterical,' she grins.
Toyah has always been different. She was born
with curvature of the spine and an incomplete hip socket, so one leg is
two inches shorter than the other, and she's a petite 5ft 1in. She studied
drama at the Old Rep Drama School in her native Birmingham and won critical
acclaim as an actress in the cult hit Quadrophenia, and in The
Corn Is Green, alongside Tinseltown legend Katharine Hepburn. Her biggest
fame, though, came as a singer in the 1980s, when ahe was as well known
for her shocking rainbow-coloured hairstyles as she was for her hit singles.
But the former punk princess has also provided the soothing voice-over
on Teletubbies and presented Songs Of Praise. Even her West
London home is unusual, with its feng shui layout, Buddhas, gold discs
and album covers hanging on the warm yellow walls.
The best word to describe Toyah is unconventional.
Take her 17-year marriage to musician Robert Fripp, 58, for instance. He
spends most of his time in America, while she lives in the UK. They have
seperate bank accounts and, even when they're both in Britain, they live
in seperate houses. 'We didn't plan it this way,' explains Toyah, blushing
and giggling at the mere mention of her husband. 'He's quite nomadic and
is always on the move. And I want my career - and my career is here. It
suits me now, but it didn't in the beginning because I missed him a lot.
When you marry someone, you want to be with them. But now my work is very
focused and I can fit a lot of things in during the day because I don't
have to get home to my husband. I can go anywhere, any time without having
to check with someone that it's OK. And I'm not coming home and cooking
- I don't enjoy that kind of environment.
'Instead, we have this romantic lifestyle where
we meet in lovely places like Australia, Paris or America. We don't deal
with any of the drudgery like builders or bills. And that makes our time
together really rewarding. But I'd like to live together eventually.'
Toyah's attitude towards having children might
raise a few eyebrows, too. After suffering two miscarriages in her twenties,
Toyah was so certain she didn't want children she opted for sterilisation
at the age of 27. 'It was definitely the right decision,' she insists.
'Very, very rarely I've wondered whether I could adopt, but I'm just so
ill-prepared to share my life with anyone. I think that, unless you've
got a real, screaming maternal instinct, you shouldn't have children.'
So, with the nation gripped by the child-like
antics of that other hugely popular reality TVshow, Big Brother,
Toyah will watch with insider knowledge. 'I've always thought Big Brother
was difficult,' she says. 'I don't think I'd like being confined for so
long with so many people. But I do have more respect and empathy for the
Toyah's fantasy bush mates
Forget Phil and Fash - given the choice, these
are the celebrities Toyah would choose to rumble in the jungle with...
David Bowie - 'I wouldn't mind being stuck
in the jungle if he was there. I'm very passionate about art, and he's
big on it, too.'
Brad Pitt - 'Ahhh, now he'd be there purely
for sex. I'm sure he'd be very good at chopping down trees and making fires,
but that's not his real appeal.'
Ewan McGregor - 'Because of the accent,
because he can sing and because he could save me in times of trouble. And
he looks as if he'd be good at removing spiders.'
Esther Rantzen - 'She wouldn't compete
with me for the attention of David, Brad and Ewan, and I'm sure she could
keep them all in check.'
Dame Edna Everage - 'She could keep us
laughing in times of low morale, and wash my underwear.'
Liam and Noel Gallagher - 'They'd fight
all the time, and that keeps the adrenalin up.'
The Beverley Sisters
- 'They'd upset Dame Edna. They sing all the time, so they could entertain
Singer Patti Smith - 'She's off the wall
and speaks her mind, so she'd be sure to wind everyone up.'
Dame Judi Dench - 'I'm a huge fan, and
I would hope some of her talent would rub off on me. I'd enjoy grovelling
30th June 2003