Dreamscape: A Toyah Willcox Fansite [www.toyah.net] : somewhere in the distance : archived Toyah news for the month of Jan 2004


January 31, 2004: 'Daily Record' - "I'm gripped by Peter the grate"
[ Daily Record - 31st Jan 04 ]Toyah on the telly (Day five) : Daily Record, Jan 31st 2004. "I'm gripped by Peter the grate"

Last night we found out where Ricky Gervais got his inspiration for The Office's David Brent. Take a bow, Peter Andre.

His performance of his newly penned song, Ins ani a no joke was a moment of comic genius.

No one with any self awareness could write such grating rubbish and perform it with such a straight face.

It was sheer brilliance.

Unlike Jordan, who had to hide her laughter, I was almost on the floor in hysterics.

Last night's show had me glued to the set.

Kerry has recovered brilliantly from her pathetic behaviour at the weekend and is interfering wonderfully in the romance between Jordan and Peter.

You knew as soon as Peter confided that he liked Jordan that Kerry would be straight over to Jordan.

The producers could not have scripted this week's show any better.

Alex finally starts opening up about her life with George Best just as he hits the headlines with the drink driving charge.

And Kerry's oblivious to the fact her former band mates in Atomic Kitten have called it aday.

Meanwhile, my old mate Johnny lost his rag over laziness in camp.

I sense that he and Jordan could have an almighty row and that will make fabulous TV. They must stay!

January 31, 2004: 'Daily Record' - "The sparks are starting to fly"
[ Daily Record - 30th Jan 04 ]Toyah on the telly (Day four) : Daily Record, Jan 30th 2004. "The sparks are starting to fly"

The flirting has started in earnest and there are sparks flying all over camp.

Peter is panting over Jordan, while she toys with him.

The sight of her slapping his wandering hand will be replayed endlessly.

I bet neither of them has a clue how much the night cameras can actually pick up.

Lord B and Kerry keep butting in at inappropriate moments during Jordan and Peter's flirting, which makes for fabulous television.

I know that everyone is finding the boredom excruciating and I'm delighted they had a boozy party to celebrate Alex Best's birthday.

In fact, the wine certainly loosened a few tongues and encouraged the sex talk, so don't be surprised if they get more alcoholic treats over the next couple of days.

And I was right again about my old mate John Lydon and Jennie Bond.

He loves the type of woman she is and I think she secretly has a little crush on him.

January 31, 2004: 'TV Times' - Mill Power
[ TV Times - 31st Jan 04 ]An affectionate look back at a studio which provided television with some of its most magical - and unexpected - moments of the past 30 years...

To the casual observer, it's just a seven-storey box of a building in the heart of Birmingham. But the BBC's Pebble Mill Studios has been a place of magic for the past 32 years.

Remember Skeldale House, the isolated Yorkshire Dales home of the vets in All Creatures Great and Small? You'd actually find it here in inner-city Birmingham. And the waterside boatyard of the Eighties yachtie soap, Howard's Way? That was here, too, about as far from the sea as you can get in Britain.

Pebble Mill is the village of Ambridge, home of those radio country folk The Archers. It's the soapland surgeries of Mac and Kate and those other daytime Doctors. And it brought us the programme that revolutionised daytime viewing Pebble Mill at One.

Now there's trouble at Mill. The BBC is leaving, heading off to an ultrasmart new Birmingham studio called The Mailbox. But at least it's not going without a last affectionate look back at the studios in this Sunday lunchtime's farewell show presented by Toyah Willcox.

'I was born a mile from Pebble Mill,' says Toyah. 'It was where my career started when I was 18 with my first professional job, in BBC2's Second City First series, as a girl who wants to be on Top Of The Pops.'

The Mill was soon to have an even bigger effect on Toyah's life. 'In 1977 I was interviewed by magazine show Look Hear! about a film I was in called Jubilee,' she says. She clearly made an impression. 'A few weeks later, I was back as a presenter - and I was there for three years. Look Hear! went out live on Tuesdays and gave local bands like Duran Duran their first TV appearances. But Pebble Mill has always set trends...'

Back in 1972, the new studios had first come to national fame with the launch of Pebble Mill at One, the bright and breezy lunchtime magazine show presented from the entrance foyer. It was the Beeb's first attempt at a popular daytime show, and it's still perhaps the best.

'It was pioneering in its time,' says Marian Foster, one of the original presenters alongside Bob Langley. 'A live programme with an audience is real life, warts and all. It's more fun and more risky but you get more out of it.'

Bob Langley remembers the time a Hollywood stuntman was on the show. 'Someone had the bright idea of opening with him standing on a fourth-floor ledge and then falling into a pile of cardboard boxes. The stuntman had told me, "The secret is in the way I land. I've got to land on my back - if I go in feet first I'm dead." So we started the show, and I watched him plummet in feet first, like a bomb. There was dead silence.

'I thought, what do I say? "Welcome to Pebble Mill at One. I'm afraid our first guest has just died, but here's a catchy little number from Kenny Ball..." To my immense relief, he climbed out - and not only did he do the interview, but he did another fall later. What a pro!'

Pebble Mill at One - and spin-off Saturday Night at the Mill - attracted major stars. Sophia Loren came. As did Charlton Heston. Bob Langley fulfilled his ambition to dance with Ginger Rogers. And Cliff Richard was always turning up - making around 20 appearances in all. 'I liked it because it was so busy, the place was alive,' recalls Cliff.

Sometimes it was alive in unexpected ways. Christopher Timothy, now starring in the daytime soap Doctors, remembers when he played vet James Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small, 'One day I walked in to the studio and noticed a strange smell,' he says. 'They'd actually built a cow byre in Studio A - with real cows and the real smell! It probably lingers still...'

Radio doesn't have to produce smells but it does have to make the right noises, as Jacob Hickey, producer of Sunday's programme, discovered when he poked his cameras into a recording of Radio 4's The Archers.

'This poor studio manager was dragging huge sackloads across the floor to give the sound effect of grain being moved,' he says. 'The actors were puffing into the microphone while the studio manager did all the work!

'Some sound effects are real. Veterans Norman Painting and Patricia Green - who play Phil and Jill Archer - told us that in their day if a kiss was needed, they kissed the back of their hand. Now, young actors actually snog on air.'

Everyone seems to love the old studio. Telly chef Ainsley Harriot got his first TV break here, cooking on Good Morning with Anne and Nick.

'The first thing I did was pancakes and I heated up the pan really hot,' remembers Ainsley. 'Anne Diamond grabbed the handle and cried "Aaaargh". I thought I was going to get the sack for burning the presenter.'

The less famous will be equally heartbroken to see Pebble Mill close, from Muriel, who's been cleaning the star's dressing rooms since the beginning, to the autograph-hunting brothers who have waited outside the reception doors for the best part of 30 years.

'We're all very sad,' says Toyah Willcox, who has appeared in just about every area of the studios, from presenting Children In Need to appearing in Doctors.

'I think Pebble Mill should be a listed building. It's really special.'

Thanks to Paul Lomas.

January 30, 2004: 'Daily Record' - "Peter show's he's made of right stuff"
[ Daily Record - 29th Jan 04 ]Toyah on the telly (Day three) : Daily Record, Jan 29th 2004
"Peter shows he's made of the right stuff"

What a turnaround in just a few hours for Peter Andre.

At the end of last night's first show, I had him down as a posturing macho man who had bitten off more than he could chew with Jordan.

That obvious flirting and the singing were so embarrassing.

But oh my, didn't he redeem himself brilliantly in the Bush Tucker Trial?

He showed real guts sticking his head into those boxes, particularly the one with the snakes.

This series is giving everyone involved the chance to show us a very different side to the one we think weknow.

Jordan is packing the power tools of her trade, from the Dr No bikini to the thong, but proving she's a woman with a sense of humour and guts.

She's toying with Peter like a cat with a mouse I can't wait until she goes in for the kill.

How about prim and proper Jennie Bond smuggling in mascara? I said after the very first episode that she had more than just lippy in there with her!

I sense a little frisson between my old mate John Lydon and her.

He loves older women and has this look of awe when she's around watch out for some flirting.

And well done to the celebs for telling the crew where to stick the two meals Kerry McFadden won for them. They needed to make a stand.

They'd done the right thing where the treasure chest was concerned and deserved a break, or at least some decent food, and they got none.

I hope the 10 meals Peter won are special.

He may have won a few more fans with the Bush Tucker Trial, but my money is still on Peter being one of he first out.

It's between him and Alex Best and Mike Read, neither of whom have done anything memorable so far.

January 30, 2004: Toyah becomes 'Melody' patron
[ Toyah - Melody's patron ]Toyah has recently become the patron of Melody, an organisation whose aim is "Music making for people with a learning disability".

We are delighted that Toyah has agreed to be Melody’s patron, as she is so well-known as an actress, singer and presenter, and appeals to all age groups.

In her reply to Rosie Cross’s request, Toyah wrote: "I support your idea and wish it great success."

Most people know that Toyah comes from Birmingham. Rosie first met her as a pupil at the secondary school where, as Rosie Nelson, she taught Toyah music. 

In an interview in the Times Educational Supplement magazine, Toyah said that O level music was the only exam she passed, out of the nine that she took. Music and art were the only lessons she enjoyed, but eventually she was banned from art as a punishment for not working well in other subjects. Toyah was dyslexic and physically disabled – she lost a year of school through having some bones straightened, and ended up with one leg shorter than the other.

Remembering Rosie, then Miss Nelson, Toyah said that she gave her pupils 'an incredible love of classical music'.

With her unhappy schooldays behind her, Toyah has worked hard to build a hugely successful international career as a singer and actor on stage, in film and on television. She is extremely busy with work and has just celebrated 25 years in show business. For more information about her career, visit Toyah's own website at www.toyahwillcox.com.

Click the image to visit this wonderful organisation's website.

January 28, 2004: 'What's on TV' - End of an era
[ What's on TV - 31st Jan 04 ]Toyah is included in this week's 'What's on TV' magazine (issue 31st January - 6th February), a tiny article on this Sunday's Goodbye Pebble Mill... at One, which ISN'T being shown in Scotland :o((

End of an era
Toyah Willcox takes a trip down memory lane

Goodbye Pebble Mill... at One
> BBC 1 > Sunday (not Scotland)

After 32 years, BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham is closing its doors. Presented by one of the city's own, Toyah Willcox, this programme looks back at classic Pebble Mill shows and the star-studded events that have taken place in the studios. Sir Cliff Richard and Nigel Havers are among the guests who will be chatting about their fond memories.

Thanks (again) to Paul Lomas.

January 28, 2004: 'Daily Record' - "Let them eat... For TV's sake"
Toyah on the telly (Day two) : Daily Record, Jan 28th 2004
"Let them eat... For TV's sake"

It's day two and already the celebrities are starving before our eyes. From experience, I know they are only being given starvation rations, though the I'm A Celeb guru Dr Bob claims they're on 1000 calories a day.

Whatever they're getting, it's not enough.

No one will have enough energy to complete a Bush Tucker Trial or go on a treasure hunt. They're shutting down in front of our eyes.

But hats off again to John Lydon. He may look like Albert Step toe but beneath that grubby exterior beats the heart of a New Man.

Johnny may be a bit snotty but he's rugged.

But it's not looking good for poor Kerry.

From my own experience, I know the producers haveed it ed the footage to make her look bad so all that whining and tears will have already turned people against her.

I can't see her completing the Jungle Houdini trial.

But I feel a bit aggrieved. Last year, the crew were under strict orders to ignore us, so none of us got a hug from a hunky guy when we were upset!

Isn't Jordan a real revelation? She has charisma, she's tough and she's hard as nails she wouldn't flop at any of the trials.

Her remark about Peter Andre's ''acorn'' was brilliant.

And here's something that the celebrities don't know.

They'll be killing themselves to find treasure chests in the hope that there's food inside.

But I was one of those asked to put together something for the treasure hunt and we were all told not to put any food in.

If they knew that, they wouldn't bother leaving camp.

January 28, 2004: 'Daily Mirror' - FLAWS OF THE JUNGLE
[ Mirror - 21st Jan 04 ]Last week, Wednesday 21st January, the 'Daily Mirror' ran a (typically negative) feature on I'm A Celebrity... , including a small piece about Toyah.

The faces may change but in TV's survival game the same sad stereotypes are on the prowl yet again

You'd be forgiven for thinking it's deja vu - a busty model, a has-been DJ, a nasty sports star and a deluded sex god camped out in the jungle.

Yes, it's another helping of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! And this series, which kicks off on Monday, looks set to be the most popular yet.

Mighty Mouth : 2nd series: TOYAH WILLCOX
Eighties punk queen was so keen to appear that she pulled out of London show Calamity Jane at the last minute. The mouthy singing sensation said she would strip naked if she won. She didn't.

Thanks to Paul Lomas.

January 27, 2004: 'Daily Record' - "This could be the best one yet"
Toyah on the telly (Day one) : Daily Record, Jan 27th 2004
"This could be the best one yet"

What a brilliant first show. This could be the very best I'm A Celebrity of all.

I'll going to stick my neck out and say my old mate John Lydon will be king of the jungle.

He is fantastic and has immediately made a great connection with everyone else. I loved his quip about not wanting ticks on his testicles.

Huge respect to Razor Ruddock and Jordan for the bush tucker trial.

The snake and eel I could have lived with, but Jordan is a star for letting the hunter spiders crawl all over her face.

I'm as frightened of creepy crawlies as Kerry McFadden and I think her obvious terror means she is doomed.

The show's producers are clever at playing on people's fears and Kerry's making it easy for them... and it's only day one. She isn't the only one who may be in for a short stay.

Peter Andre takes himself far too seriously and Jennie Bond might find herself isolated because she's so bossy.

At least the producers have kept this group apart until the last possible moment.

Last year, on the flight out we made a pact not to fight.

Things won't run as smoothly this time round and I can't wait to see the tension unfold.

January 27, 2004: Toyah Willcox joins the 'Daily Record'
[ Daily Record - 26th Jan 04 ]Toyah has (temporarily, hopefully) joined Scotland's most famous tabloid, the 'Daily Record', to report, and give her opinions, on the third series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

Jan 26 2004. By Rick Fulton

Toyah Willcox is joining the Daily Record to offer her firsthand experience of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

From tomorrow, she'll analyse what's been happening in the camp and the state of each of the contestants' minds as they try to live in the jungle.

Last year, Toyah was the second last female to be booted off and had to endure one of the worst ''bush tucker trials''.

Stripping down to her swimsuit, she had to climb into a stinking bog and try to retrieve stars while keeping hold of a teaspoon.

But she collected five out of eight stars in three minutes and returned to camp saying: ''It was like vinegar, excrement and rotting flesh.''

Toyah was a huge star in the '80s with songs It's A Mystery and I Wanna Be Free.

She has also turned her many talents to acting. She lent her voice to the beginning and end of Teletubbies and starred as Aunt Boomerang in children's TV show Barmy Aunt Boomerang.

Toyah said she was delighted to be sharing her thoughts on this year's contestants with Record readers.

January 27, 2004: Goodbye 'Snow White' / 'Sleeping Beauty' for 2004!
[ Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ]Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ended it's hugely successful two month run on Sunday night.

I managed to catch last Friday evening's performance at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, and very pleased to report that Toyah was absolutely incredible as the Wicked Queen. Her performance had every kid in the building booing and hissing, such was her "evilness"!

Has to be said that Toyah's comic timing was great in this show. Some of her scenes were hilarious, delighting not only the the kids, but also the adults with a liberal sprinkling of double entendres. She also looked extremely good in her Wicked Queen costumes.

Thanks to Toyah, all the cast and crew, and Kevin (Producer) & Emily Wood (Production Co-ordinator) for a very entertaining evening. 

Thanks also to Emily for letting me know that Toyah will, once again, be in panto at the Marlowe Theatre, Christmas 2004, in Sleeping Beauty, and to Alec and Garry for a cool weekend.

January 27, 2004: 'Goodbye Pebble Mill' - Listings update
Goodbye Pebble Mill : BBC1 - Sunday 1st February : 1.15pm
Toyah Willcox looks back at more than three decades of broadcasting from BBC Pebble Mill. From the Archers to the Clothes Show and from Top Gear to Good Morning with Anne and Nick, Pebble Mill has been turning out TV and radio hits since the early 1970s. Cliff Richard, Warren Clarke, Anne Diamond and a host of other celebrities pay tribute to The Mill as it prepares to close its doors for the last time.
January 19, 2004: 'BBC Essex' - Ask Toyah Willcox
[ BBC Essex - Ask Toyah ]'BBC Essex' are currently offering visitors to their website the chance to ASK TOYAH anything they like. The ten best questions will be put her "Minxness" after the closing date!!

BBC Essex - Ask Toyah Willcox
From punk icon to Shakespearean actress, Toyah Willcox has enjoyed chart topping success, and a varied acting career.

More recently she's been on our screens doing some revolting tasks just to eat! In "I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here".

This is your chance to ask Toyah anything you like, it could be her time as an 80s popstar, what it was really like on "I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here", or what's she's doing now.

Maybe you want to know if she has any pets, what's her favourite food, or her plans for the future.

If you've got a question, fill in the form below, and we'll pick the best 10 questions for Toyah. 

Closing date for questions 31st January 2004.

Toyah Facts
• Born on 16 May 1958 in Kings Heath, Birmingham.
• Toyah's first notable role was in 1977, when she played the role of Mad in seminal punk epic Jubilee.
• Toyah played Barmy Aunt Boomerang in the children's comedy drama series. 
• In 2003 Toyah starred as the Wicked Queen in the panto Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Marlow Theatre.

January 19, 2004: Goodbye Pebble Mill At One!
[ Goodbye Pebble Mill ]A little piece of TV, and Toyah, history will disappear forever later this year, when BBC Midlands/Birmingham relocates from the Pebble Mill studios.

Toyah recently filmed a show called Goodbye Pebble Mill. Only fitting that she should present this farewell to the famous Birmingham studios as she has close links to the building. Toyah appeared many times on shows made there (Pebble Mill at One, Daytime Live), performing and being interviewed. She also did extra work on various TV shows in her late teens, and the Toyah band's first ever TV performances, which now appear to be lost forever, were on Pebble Mill.

Goodbye Pebble Mill At One : BBC1 - Sunday 1st February

After 32 years and countless hours of broadcasting, BBC Pebble Mill in Birmingham is to close, ending an era of programming that will never be forgotten.

On Sunday, February 1 in BBC One's Goodbye Pebble Mill…At One, celebrities recount personal memories of the building which revolutionised daytime television; audience members re-live their favourite shows; and viewers can look back at the golden moments – and a few on-air bloopers.

Programme presenter Toyah Willcox was raised locally, grew up with Pebble Mill At One and made her name with hit home-grown shows such as Look Hear! She went on to star in a variety of Pebble Mill productions including Call My Bluff, Doctors, The Really Useful Show and Good Morning With Anne And Nick.

Willcox takes viewers on a whistle-stop tour of the broadcasting centre, from the set of the daytime show Doctors, where she recalls the great drama traditions of Pebble Mill, to the studio where Radio 4’s The Archers is made.

Highlights include Bob Langley and Marian Foster talking about being in the hot-seat of the first daytime TV show of its kind, Sir Cliff Richard reminiscing about his many appearances on the Pebble Mill At One sofa and Christopher Timothy recalling life on the set of All Creatures Great And Small.

Behind the scenes is the cleaner who has been polishing the floors ever since the studios opened, keeping the dressing rooms spick and span for the likes of Shirley Bassey and Sophia Loren; and the security guard whose 25 years of service include protecting boy band Bros from 3,000 screaming girls and minding HM The Queen for a day.

The last stop for Toyah is BBC Birmingham’s brand-new home in the revitalised city centre. Purpose-built, cutting-edge, glamorous and modern, it’s a bit like Pebble Mill itself all those years ago.

January 19, 2004: Toyah newsy bits & pieces!
• This is the final week of Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, starring Toyah and Shaun Williamson, at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Kent. The panto finishes this coming Sunday (25th January).

• Toyah was indeed mentioned on the first episode of the new Ch4 drama Shameless last week.

• The German version of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! included a clip of Toyah (in her famous swamp 'scene') in the trailer for the show, shown on January 13th! (Thanks to Marcus Reddemann)

January 19, 2004: 'Voiceprint' - Prostitute CD
[ Voiceprint - Prostitute ]The 'Voiceprint' website is listing Toyah's 'Prostitute' album as being reissued (again) on 16th February 2004!

Catalogue number: VSR003CD
Release date: 16/02/2004
Format: CD
Label: Vertical Species

TRACKLIST: 1. Hello 2. Prostitute 3. Wife 4. The Show 5. Dream House 6. Homecraft 7. Obsession 8. Let the Power Bleed 9. Restless 10. Falling to Earth 11. Jazz Singers in the Trees 12. Vale of Evesham 13. Ghosts in the Universe 
Toyah has a highly successful, prolific and incredibly diverse career, with major hit records and many prestigious stage and screen roles to her credit, which has made her one of Britain's biggest household names.

Prostitute is her 1988 album originally released on EG Records. Finds her at her best. The album is filled with fairly simple structures, enhanced with textured but simple percussion, enticing vocals, and consistent, steady rhythms. At times, as on 'The Show,' 'Homecraft,' and 'Restless', Willcox's voice and music sound incredibly like Kate Bush's; even the arrangements and harmonies are reminiscent of Kate's. At other times, a Laurie Anderson quality surfaces, particularly in the occasional spare passage and spoken-word vocal presentation. 'Falling to Earth' gives a nod to Bowie (even in its title), and the upbeat, bouncy 'Ghosts in the Universe' sounds suspiciously similar to The Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian." In addition, sounds that bring to mind Adrian Belew are peppered throughout the album. 

To top off this hybridized mix, husband Robert Fripp appears on the opening and closing tracks: His voice is heard in wacky dialogue with Toyah's on 'Hello' and that unmistakable Fripp guitar adorns 'Ghosts in the Universe'.

January 19, 2004: 'West Essex Independent'/'BBC Essex' - Champions of Learning
[ BBC Essex / West Essex Independent ]More pics and info from the recent 'Champions of Learning' 2004 event, which Toyah helped to launch in Essex:

West Essex Independent - It's just champion says Toyah
Actress and singer Toyah Willcox has joined forces with Harlow's two learning champions Alan Spicer and Teresa Glynn whose achievements inspired people across Essex, to start the search for the Champions of Learning 2004.

Mother-of-two Teresa Glynn, 36, and Alan Spicer, 56, a facilities co-ordinator at a leading pharmaceutical company, were winners of the Champions of Learning Awards last year.

Their personal learning triumphs set a shining example to others and won them the titles of Adult Learning Champion and Champion of Family Learning at the 2003 awards.

Teresa has since gone on to secure a top Essex educational post as vice-principal at the North and West Essex Adult Community College in Harlow.

She said: "Winning a Champion of Learning award gave me the confidence to believe in my ability to achieve and now I am going a lot further with my career.

"Once you start learning your realise what you can gain. I hope others who face challenges in their life will be encouraged to go on and develop their skills and broaden their opportunities at work, and in life. If I can do it, I hope others will realise they can."

Since scooping the Champion of Family Learning title, Alan and his partially-sighted wife, Maureen, have gone on to work with staff at the Harlow On-line Learning Initiative (HOLLi) to enable Maureen to successfully take further computer examinations.

She said: "Learning computer skills has given me back my freedom and put me back in touch with the world. Computers are now my eyes and I hope my achievement may encourage others to return to learning."

Alan said: "I personally have much pride and satisfaction in knowing that through my achievements, and through winning the Champions of Learning award, I'm contributing towards Maureen's determination to live a full, rewarding and independent life."

Alan, Maureen and Teresa met Toyah at the South Lodge Hotel, Chelmsford, where they were joined by the other Champions from 2003 to launch this year's awards on BBC Essex.

Listeners were encouraged to come forward or nominate someone who deserves recognition for their learning achievements. The awards attracted some 250 entrants last year, each with an inspiring story to tell. There are eight categories, each with prize money of 500 which winners are encouraged to use for further learning.

The awards evening will be broadcast live on BBC Essex on Wednesday, June 9.

[ Friday 16th January 2004 ]

Pics from 'BBC Essex' & 'West Essex Independent'.

January 14, 2004: 'Essex Evening Gazette' - Singer Toyah shows learning is no mystery
[ Essex Evening Gazette - 13th Jan 04 ]Singer Toyah Willcox has launched this year's Essex Champions of Learning Award. 

The awards are run by the Learning and Skills Council, Essex (LSC) and search for inspirational champions of learning. 

Champions of Learning recognises and rewards Essex people who are outstanding examples of achievement through learning, whether they have improved their own lives, or the lives of others. 

There are eight categories, each with prize money of 500, which winners are encouraged to use for further learning. 

Toyah, the 1980s pop star who now stars in West End musicals and was a contender on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, launched the awards during a radio broadcast in Chelmsford. 

LSC Essex's spokeswoman Nicki Uden said: "Toyah is a real champion of learning herself and we are extremely pleased that she is enthusiastic about being involved." 

To enter yourself or nominate someone, nomination packs are available from Steff Monk at LSC Essex 01245 550075, or from the website at www.championsof learning.co.uk 

January 14, 2004: 'East Anglian Daily Times' - Toyah applauds people who changed lives
[ Champions of Learning ]Actress and singer Toyah Willcox paid a visit to Essex to reward people's achievements through learning.

The Champions of Learning Awards, organised by the Learning and Skills Council, recognise and reward Essex people who have improved their own lives or those of others through learning.

Ms Wilcox had to overcome bullying, dyslexia and physical disability before embarking on her career.

She said: "I am very pleased to be associated with something which so clearly celebrates learning in such a positive and inspiring way.

"I can honestly say that I am honoured to have been invited to be involved both with the launch and the awards night itself." 

Ms Willcox is best known for her 1981 hits 'It's a Mystery' and 'I Want To Be Free' and her roles in Derek Jarman's films 'Jubilee' and 'The Tempest'.

This year's awards were launched yesterday from South Lodge Hotel in Chelmsford, which were also attended by last year's winners, nominators and organisers.

There are eight categories, each with prize money of 500 which winners are encouraged to use for further learning.


January 14, 2004: Toyah newsy bits & pieces!
• With the imminent release of The Tempest on Region 2 DVD, a number of film, and DVD, websites are publishing new reviews of the 1979 movie, and of the actual DVD and its contents. No doubt some of the UK film magazines ('Empire', 'Total Film' etc.) will review the release too.

• Toyah was mentioned in a recent (12th January) 'Times' article on John Fashanu: "Treadmill of celebrity still holds few fears for Fashanu - He may not have won, but no one should underestimate the scale of Fash’s achievement in Australia last year, alongside the likes of Wayne Sleep and Toyah Willcox in that carefully controlled jungle-style environment. If nothing else, he was the catalyst for some of the new century’s most memorable television."

• Toyah was also mentioned in a recent (11th January) 'Sunday Mail' article on the new TV series Shameless: "CARL GALLAGHER (Elliott and Luke Tittensor) REEL LIFE: The cheeky 11-year-old tearaway insists on shaving his head as he thinks he is the spitting image of 1980s pop singer Toyah Willcox when it grows."

January 7, 2004: 'Maigret', and Toyah, on DVD / 'The Tempest' on DVD
[ Maigret... on DVD ]The 1992 episode of Maigret, in which Toyah appeared as Gigi, 'Maigret & The Hotel Majestic', is to be released on Region 2 DVD on February 9th.

Maigret - Series 2 - Episodes 1 To 3 [1992] 
Starring: Michael Gambon

Michael Gambon plays the extraordinary Belgian detective Inspector Maigret in this television adaptation of the novels by George Simenon. Inuitive, intelligent and creative, with a genius for human nature, Maigret is like no other detective as he cunningly investigates crime and the human psyche.

Episode titles: Maigret and the Nightclub Dancer, Maigret and the Hotel Majestic, Maigret on the Defensive

Fans of Maigret might like to know that there is a DVD boxed set also released on the same day (which also includes the episode with Toyah).

Many thanks to Louise Larkins for the info.

[ The Tempest... on DVD ]As mentioned last month, The Tempest, starring Toyah as Miranda, is also to be made available on DVD in the UK for the first time in February. The long-awaited release, featuring audio commentary by Toyah, is out on the 16th.

The Tempest - Special Features 
• Audio commentary from actress Toyah Willcox and the film's cinematographer 
• Interview with director Derek Jarman 
• Short films 
• Region 0 

Hailed as one of the most successful adaptations of Shakespeare, Derek Jarman’s The Tempest is also, unsurprisingly, one of the most unconventional. Though keeping the essence of the text, the films greatness lies in Jarman’s skill at creating a visually stunning, erotically charged world of haunting imagery. 

Flamboyant, highly atmospheric and full of Jarman’s punk era attitude, the famous finale, in which Elizabeth Welch sings ‘Stormy Weather’ surrounded by sailors, is one of the most memorable, and campest moments in British cinema history. 

Actors: Toyah Willcox, Peter Bull, David Meyer, Neil Cunningham, Heathcote Williams. 
Director: Derek Jarman. 
Certificate: 15 years and over. 
Year: 1979. 
Screen: Fullscreen 4:3. 
Languages: English. 
Duration: 1 hour and 32 minutes (approx). 

January 7, 2004: 'The Stage' - Snow White reviewed
[ The Stage - 3rd Jan 04 ]'The Stage', dated 3rd January 2004, in print and online versions, has reviewed Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs.

The Stage
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Marlowe, Canterbury

This theatre's pantomimes have become something of a tradition in their own right and producer Kevin Wood makes good use of local performers. Marlowe favourite Dave Lee has created quite a following and plays for laughs as Herman the Henchman alongside Shaun Williamson. The two work well together and while Williamson does play on his EastEnders connection, he also shows other performance skills.

Laura Brown makes a confident and well-cast Snow White, with George Wood as her Prince Lorenzo and the two young performers are vocally well suited. 

Toyah Willcox plays a vampish Wicked Stepmother with defiance and an energetic stage presence assisted by Helga Wood's stunning costumes. Willcox performs well alongside the ensemble dancers, who effectively characterise the villagers and ghouls. Director Paul Hendy provides the dwarfs with plenty of performance opportunities and Keijo Salmela makes some great cameo moments. 

The scenes sometimes seem too short for the action to build and some of the humour is lost with the swiftness in moving to the next scene. 

However, this is a well-cast production, making good use of local talent and developing young performers. The more well-known performers gel neatly with the cast and create an uplifting sense of camaraderie. 

By Lisa Whitbread

January 7, 2004: Official Toyah makeover! / 'Brave New World' - Tiny TV clip
[ The Official Toyah Willcox Website ]Yowsah!! The Official Toyah website has had a rather cool makeover for 04!

Among the updates to the site are a brand new musical history page, songlist and an updated illustrated gigography. Plus, look out for secret links on the site as from time to time they will be running a series of hidden extras. At the moment there are (that I could find) two.

It has to be said that the site is looking better than it ever has, and is now full to bursting with Toyah info. The musical history page is a fantastic and worthy tribute to Toyah's incredible recording career. A big thanks to Alan and Craig for all the work.

[ Brave New World ]Meanwhile, William's brilliant 'Brave New World' website has been updated with a "Tiny Toyah Telly" clip. Click on over to catch some of Toyah's recent appearance on BBC Breakfast News, when she talked about Snow White, her one-woman-show, the new novel, and returning to Calamity Jane.

January 2, 2004: 'Everything Must Go' at the Birmingham Rep
[ Everything Must Go ]Toyah guested on an Everything Must Go special on New Year's Day on ITV1.

The show came from the Birmingham Old Rep, where costumes and props were being gathered for an auction to raise money for the theatre.

Toyah was interviewed about the dress she wore in the Birmingham Repertory Theatre's 1987 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which she played Hermia.

She recalled that the dress was way too long for her and that throughout the play she constantly had to "hoik it up" so she didn't fall over onstage.

Toyah also briefly talked about her history with the theatre, training as an actress there in the early 1970's, and also about joining the Board of Directors a decade ago. 

She also helped out in the office raising publicity for the auction.

The auction eventually raised in excess of 5,000.

January 2, 2004: Toyah on BBC 'Breakfast News'
[ BBC Breakfast News - 30th Dec 03 ]Toyah guested on BBC Breakfast News on Tuesday 30th December.

Also appearing was her current panto co-star, Shaun Williamson.

The interview mainly focused on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, in which Toyah and Shaun are appearing in Kent.

However, Toyah also confirmed that she will, once again, be heading out to the Wild West to take on the role of Calamity Jane. She will tour the UK with the musical in August/ September 2004.

Toyah also briefly metioned the novel she has been working on, which should be published Christmas 2004, she has been asked to contribute ideas to the third series of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, and her one-woman-show (touring May & June 2004 - and filmed for DVD and VHS release) is definitely going ahead.

A busy 2004 then!

Massive THANKS to Andi Westhorpe.

January 2, 2004: Toyah on 'The 100 Greatest Musicals'
[ 100 Greatest Musicals ]Toyah popped up a number of times throughout the marathon The 100 Greatest Musicals on channel 4 (Boxing Day, Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th December).

Calamity Jane featured as one of the favourites in the poll, placing at number 25 in the rundown.

Among others, Toyah commented on Breaking Glass (number 95), The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Sound Of Music and Singin' In The Rain.

The top ten was: 10. Moulin Rouge, 9. Oliver!, 8. Chicago, 7. The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 6. Singin' In The Rain, 5. Mary Poppins, 4. West Side Story, 3. The Wizard Of Oz, 2. The Sound Of Music, 1. Grease.

Thanks to Steve Taylor & Ashleigh Sinclair.

January 2, 2004: 'The Panto Set' - Snow White
[ The Panto Set - 27th Dec 03 ]A fleeting glimpse of Toyah onstage, as the Wicked Queen, in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in The Panto Set (channel 4, Saturday 27th December).

The show, looking at all things panto, featured a short interview with Shaun Willimason. He is, of course, playing opposite Toyah in the aforementioned panto at the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Kent.

Thanks to Andi Westhorpe.

January 2, 2004: Toyah newsy bits & pieces!
• Toyah was interviewed on Ch4 Teletext earlier this week. Unfortunately before I had time to do a transcript the interview was replaced with another!

But here's a 2003 Toyah quote from Teletext: Jungle fever - "We weren't allowed to do anything - we couldn't go for walks, explore or forage - so the boredom was extraordinary. But I've got absolutely no regrets - I feel very positive about the experience." Toyah Willcox enjoyed her experience of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.

• The Minder episode featuring Toyah (as Kate), All Mod Cons, was repeated twice on the Paramount channel on Saturday 27th December, at 2.00 and 8.30pm. (Thanks to Ashleigh Sinclair)

• Another festive TV appearance by Toyah.... on The 100 Worst Pop Records on Ch4 (New Year's Day) she voiced her opinion on Mariah Carey, saying she couldn't understand why she ever "made it" and if she were in the same room as her she would have to go over and give her a good shake!! (Thanks to Brian Green)

January 2, 2004: Calamity Jane rides again!
[ Calamity Jane ]Though not "officially" confirmed as yet, Toyah mentioned on BBC Breakfast News at the end of December that she would, once again, be touring in the lead role of the musical Calamity Jane.

The production toured the UK in 2002/03 to packed theatres and positive reviews, before a West End run in the Summer of last year.

Toyah said she would be back in the show around September of this year. No doubt dates and venues will be confirmed over the coming months.

In the meantime please click on these rarely seen Calamity pictures to visit Dreamscape's dedicated Calamity Jane section.

There you can browse news, press, reviews, pictures, cast information, related interviews and much more.

January 2, 2004: 'Reuters' - Look out! -- it's panto time
CANTERBURY (Reuters) - For punk rockers and soap stars, it is the perfect way to spend Christmas -- cracking awful jokes to a wildly appreciative audience.

The goodies are greeted with cries of "Look Out Behind You" when the villains creep up on them. The baddies always get hissed and booed.

It's pantomime time again, that uniquely British theatrical tradition when classic fairy tales are given a riotous new twist and audience participation is a must.

"The British stiff upper lip is left at home at panto time," said Toyah Willcox, once a wild-haired punk star of the 1980s who is now playing the Wicked Queen in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" in the cathedral city of Canterbury.

The diminutive Willcox revels in being the villain. "It is terribly therapeutic for the kids to scream at me," she told Reuters in her dressing room 30 minutes before curtain up. "The audience gives you energy and you feed off that energy."

The cast of the pantomime, which is a unique cross between Victorian music hall and Italy's Commedia dell'Arte, earn their keep. In Canterbury, they are performing 93 shows in six weeks.

Willcox, who has starred in musicals, recorded hit singles and hosted television documentaries, said: "Here we are having as much fun as the audience."

Every night across Britain at Christmastime, fairytale classics are being given an airing by actors hamming it up mercilessly as the kids shriek with excitement.

Willcox's co-star in Canterbury is Shaun Williamson, better known as Barry in the TV soap opera "EastEnders".

Willamson, who plays Muddles the Court Jester, is the first to admit the humour is pure corn.

"The jokes are awful but that is the beauty of it, " he told Reuters. And you sure do need plenty of stamina. "I look on panto as an enjoyable assault course. It is lucrative and fun but you wonder half way through the run why you are doing it."

Williamson, father of a five-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son, said: "For children, panto is their first brush with theatre. It is so important to get them interested. They are the next generation of theatregoers."

The British, normally a reserved race, throw themselves wholeheartedly into pantomime participation. When the cast shout "Oh Yes We Do" on stage, the audience bellows back "Oh No You Don't".

"It gives people a chance to let off steam and return to their childhood with their own kids," said Williamson.

[ Wednesday 24th December 2003 ]

January 2, 2004: 'Australia ABC News Online' - It's panto time in the UK
For punk rockers and soap stars, it is the perfect way to spend Christmas - cracking awful jokes to a wildly appreciative audience. 

The goodies are greeted with cries of "Look Out Behind You" when the villains creep up on them. 

The baddies always get hissed and booed. 

It is pantomime time again, that uniquely British theatrical tradition when classic fairy tales are given a riotous new twist and audience participation is a must. 

"The British stiff upper lip is left at home at panto time," said Toyah Willcox, once a wild-haired punk star of the 1980s who is now playing the Wicked Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the cathedral city of Canterbury. 

The diminutive Willcox revels in being the villain. 

"It is terribly therapeutic for the kids to scream at me," she told Reuters. 

"The audience gives you energy and you feed off that energy." 

[ Friday 26th December 2003 ]

January 1, 2004: HAPPY NEW YEAR to all visitors
Hope you all continue to visit Dreamscape in 2004. Have an utterly Toyahtastic year!!