Dreamscape: A Toyah Willcox Fansite [www.toyah.net] : somewhere in the distance : archived Toyah news for the month of Aug 2002

August 28, 2002: Toyah's 'Self Portrait'
Self Portrait UK : ch4 - 27 Aug 02Another evening, another Toyah TV appearance. Last night's was almost polar opposites to Monday's dance programme, a short but fascinating few minutes of Toyah choosing objects that represent how she would like to be seen. Toyah was the first person to choose their self portrait, as part of Self Portrait UK, on channel 4. She said:

"I've chosen the Buddha as the starting point for my self portrait because it's what I...I look up to, it's what I would like to be, but at the same time I am a rubbish buddhist.

The shell represents hopeI would like my self portrait to represent the conflicts and the fluidity of who I am, because I never seem to be anything fixed. I’ve tried to group together mundane everyday objects and give them a meaning that is something of, hopefully, who I am, from the day I’m born to the day I die. There’s something constant about it."

I've chosen the shell because I think it represents hope; it whispers in your ear when you listen to it, it's the cornucopia, it's the horn of plenty, and it just symbolises great strength to me.

This little guy, is me!I've chosen the fish because within Feng Shui the fish symbolises good fortune, and fish symbolise hope for me.

I've chosen the book because I think every child, every adult, needs a mentor, someone who believes in them, someone who unconditionally believes in them. Mine was Derek Jarman.

This little guy (Toyah holds a carrot topped rag doll), well it's me actually. The knife is going in because of conflict, all the time I try to be a decent, honourable person but what goes on in my head is just...outrageous!

This is my self portraitI like to think this self portrait is an interpretation of something permanent within me."

"This is my self portrait, what would yours be?" asked Toyah at the end of her segment.

For details of how to submit your self portrait telephone 0845 602 3635, or visit www.channel4.com/selfportraituk.

August 28, 2002: All Booked Up - With Toyah!
Jitterbug Perfume by Tom RobbinsToyah, and a whole host of others, were recently asked by 'The Observer' newspaper which book they will be passing the Summer months of 2002 with...

Toyah Willcox : Singer - Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins
"Jitterbug Perfume' by Tom Robbins (No Exit Press, 8.99), an extraordinary piece of comic writing combined with the ability to make a short paperback book travel over a period of a thousand years tracing the life of Pan, the god of nature. It's amazing."

NB: Jitterbug Perfume is an epic. which is to say, it begins in the forests of ancient Bohemia and doesn't conclude until nine o'clock tonight (Paris time). It is a saga, as well. A saga must have a hero, and the hero of this one is a janitor with a missing bottle. The bottle is blue, very, very old, and embossed with the image of a goat-horned god. If the liquid in the bottle is actually is the secret essence of the universe, as some folks seem to think, it had better be discovered soon becaused it is leaking and there is only a drop of two left. 

August 28, 2002: Self Portrait UK
Toyah - Self PortraitChannel 4 are showing a second series of self-portraits by well known personalities. The series features self-portraits by actress and musician Toyah Willcox, actress and commedienne Mina Anwar, journalist and broadcaster Miranda Sawyer, academic and disability activist Dr. Tom Shakespeare, Founder of The Big Issue John Bird and Lord Taylor of Warwick, as they reveal their true selves in their own unique self-portrait. 

Self-Portrait UK invites us all to create our own self-portrait. The best portraits will be displayed in The National Portrait Gallery, exhibited at exhibition sites across the UK and broadcast on Channel 4.

"My self-portrait represents the conflicts and fluidity of who I am, because I never seem to be anything fixed. I’ve tried to group together mundane everyday objects and give them a meaning that is something of, hopefully, who I am, from the day I’m born to the day I die. There’s something constant about it."; TOYAH WILLCOX, August 2002.

August 28, 2002: Toyah On TV - *Update*
Ever Wondered? : BBC Prime - Thursday 29th August : 4.50am
Mystic Challenge : Challenge TV - Thursday 29th August : 11.00am
Mystic Challenge : Challenge TV - Friday 30th August : 2.30am
Under Offer : Challenge TV - Week Days from Monday 2nd September
Urgh! A Music War : Sky Movies 1 - Wednesday 4th September : 1.25am
V Graham Norton : E4 - Thursday 5th September : 10.50pm
Ever Wondered? : BBC Prime - Monday 9th September : 4.30am
August 27, 2002: Toyah on 'You Askin?, I'm Dancin'
It was very, very rude!Toyah, alongside Jenny Eclair, Phil Jupitus, Tony Hadley, Cheryl Baker, Jimmy Saville, Linda Nolan, Lisa Rogers and a whole host of others, guested on You Askin?, I'm Dancin' last night on Channel 4.

The 90 minute programme was packed with dozens of hilarious clips related to dancing; Come Dancing, Saturday Night Fever, The Gap Band, punks pogoing, Fame, Michael Jackson, Madonna, breakdancing, Disco Dancing championships, and much more. You name it, it was included, along with comments and anectodes from the celeb guests. Toyah appeared a number of times throughout the show, commenting on various dance-related topics:

Being a girl, you've got tits!Slowdancing - "It really was very, very rude. It was the first experience I ever had of clitorol stimulation", Toyah giggled, "'cos you danced very close together, but you would do that with complete strangers!".

Ballroom Dancers - "Their costumes are just so elaborate and the skin is so painted. When they suck the stomach in and stick the bum out it's so extraordinary. Everything they do is like some bizarre mateing ritual".

TW mentioned that even punks had their own dance - pogoing - and gave an enthusiastic and energetic demonstration.

Perfect punk pogoing"The problem with pogoing, being a girl is you've got tits!".

Bad Dancers - "You think 'god, you're so sexy', and then they get up on the dancefloor and it's 'ooh!'. It's so tragic that bad dancing makes you think someone is hopeless in the sack".

And then we....Danced!Dance Heroes - "I didn't really have any dance heroes until Michael Jackson did 'Thriller'. He really proved what dancing was about".

No mention of Toyah's seminal 'Danced' unfortunately, but you can't have everything I suppose:)

Thanks to Alec Kelly for alerting me to this.

August 25, 2002: Mirror's 'The Look' Celeb CV
The Look - 24 August 02The Daily Mirror's 'The Look' magazine featured Toyah in their "Celeb CV" box yesterday. It is included on Tuesday's TV listings page, as Toyah appears on Self PortraitsUK that day. Toyah should be pleased with the small bio as not only does it spell her, much misspelt, surname properly, but also chops three years from her age.

Celeb CV: Toyah Willcox (41): Self-Portrait UK

Lives: With her musician husband Robert Fripp in North Dorset. They only see each other for a few weeks each year.

Did you know?: As a teenager, Toyah applied for a council grant to study acting,but her application was turned down with the words, "Not attractive and has a lisp".

Loves: Flying. "I can be anonymous on a plane."

First memory: Having her nappy changed. "I can recall holding myself until she changed me and then deliberately pooing. Sorry, mum!"

August 25, 2002: Toyah Interviewed @ 'This Is Bolton'
Calamity in Bolton'This Is Bolton' website ran a Toyah interview this week. The interview mainly focuses on the forthcoming Calamity Jane tour but includes a few other interesting revelations:

Toyah takes aim at a career on the stage

THERE are only a select band of celebrities who are known by one name. Among them is Madonna, Jagger, Bowie . . . and Toyah writes Beverly Greenberg 

The latter burst on to the scene with violently dyed red hair and lashings of thick make-up telling us how "It's A Mystery". Almost 25 years later, that same "wild child" can be seen presenting a variety of mainstream television shows ranging from religion to travel, and is now embarking on a musical tour playing a lead role originally made famous by -- Doris Day! 

But did she ever envisage, all those years ago as a young punk, that her career would take such a diverse route? 

She laughs: "When I started I never even imagined living beyond 30. 

"In fact, when I reached my 30th birthday I had to think 'Now what am I going to do?'." 

Despite a lack of formal planning, Toyah Wilcox's career has gone from strength to strength, with the singer, turned presenter, turned actress remaining as enthusiastic as ever. 

But are there any offers of work that she would turn down? 

"I would never want to do a sex scene," she insists. "I am very, very physically shy. With presenting, I have avoided anything to do with shopping and babies. I do not like shopping and have not had any babies." She adds: "I only take jobs I want. That keeps me really enthusiastic. There is nothing worse than having a big expensive show starring a leading actress who resents being there. 

"It is the presenting which has kept me in touch with people. It has allowed me to be slightly journalistic while looking at the issues. 

"And yet it came about as a remarkable mistake. My agent told me I had been approached to present an entertainment programme, but added that he had told them it was the sort of thing I would want to do. So I did it!" 

Although Toyah first came to prominence as a singer, she began her career at the National Theatre at the age of 18. She formed a band with the people she was working with and spent five years touring pubs and working men's clubs before enjoying her first hit record, It's A Mystery. 

She said: "The image was nothing new for me. I was wearing black and had pink hair when I was 14. When punk arrived on the scene I felt there was something finally out there for me. 

"I was obsessed with becoming famous. It was like a bad habit. My ambitions have changed now. I am more realistic these days, but I love acting and would love to be on television or in film, or do more work on stage." 

An on stage is where you will find Toyah for the next year or so, starring in Calamity Jane, a part made famous by Doris Day. 

Toyah said: "The character did exist, living around the 1860s, and yes, she did have to dress and talk like a man. 

"I do like the music. When you look at the Doris Day film it is apparent that it was written for her as a vehicle and represented women of the 1950s. We are looking at representing these women in the 1860s. 

"These women were pioneers, able to claim their own land. They would ride out on their own into the wilderness to claim the land."

"We open on September 9 and come to Manchester in October. Rehearsals have just started, which I thoroughly enjoy. 

"I will be touring with Calamity Jane for 10 months and then there are rumours that it will go to West End. There is even the possibility of being invited for a short run on Broadway. I have had to leave the next year free, just in case." 

August 24, 2002: Toyah Newsy & Trivia Bitzzz...
Quadroph-EE-nia!Toyah has been appearing regularly in Eastenders recently. Yes!, eagle-eyed viewers of Britain's favourite (and most depressing!) soap will have spotted the classic Quadrophenia poster on Billy's wall. A nice distraction when the Billy-Janine-Little Mo shenanigans get boring (not that I watch it of course:o/!).

I recently discovered that Toyah gets a mention in About A Boy. Not sure if it's the book or film, starring Hugh Grant, or both.

BanzaiBanzai featuring Toyah, originally shown last year, was repeated last week on E4. TW poppped up in a slot called 'The Pop Prize Price Conundrum'. The voiceover went "20 years ago Mrs Toyah Willcox won this British pop music Oscar for Best Female Vocalist. It like winning the the pop World Cup or something, but that is sadly now history, now all she has is memories. But like the wise man said 'memories will not put food on the table', so Mrs Toyah pops into local pawnbroker to swap her award for cash". There then followed the 'bet' where Toyah's "pride and joy" was valued at 500, to which Toyah exclaimed "is that it?".

Toyah was the subject of a question on Friday's The Weakest Link on BBC2. "Which Birmingham born actress and singer also does the voiceover for Teletubbies?" asked acidic Anne Robinson, "Frank Skinner!" answered the contestant!!!

Tension @ Tower!'Dreamchild', Toyah's 1994 "dance"album is currently available in the Piccadilly branch of Tower Records in London. It is the German import version and is going for the not atall expensive sum of 6.99 - a bargain.

Many thanks to Alec Kelly, Sabine Bode and Jonathan Davies for providing some of this, always welcome, Toyah news, gossip and trivia

August 21, 2002: 'Calamity Jane' in Livewire Magazine
Calamity in 'Livewire'Toyah and Calamity Jane are featured in 'Livewire', the magazine available to passengers on GNER trains.

It's A Blast: Toyah Willcox as Calamity Jane in Glasgow

Toyah Willcox cracks her whip as the tough-talking, gun-toting Indian scout, immortalised on the Hollywood screen by Doris Day, in a brand new production of the classic, comedy musical. Adapted for the stage by Charles K Freeman and directed by Ed Curtis, it features all the witty and memorable songs so popular in the film, including "The Deadwood Stage", "Windy City", "The Black Hills Of Dakota" and "Secret Love".

Thanks to Gavin Brick for providing this.

NB. Toyah is currently rehearsing 10 hours a day for Calamity Jane, which opens on 9 September at the Derngate Theatre in Northampton.

Visit Dreamscape's dedicated Calamity Jane page by clicking the pic above.

August 21, 2002: Toyah On TV - Detailed *Update*
Through The Keyhole : BBC1 - Wednesday 21st August : 12.30pm
David Frost challenges a celebrity panel to identify two famous personalities by peeping into their homes - with the help of Loyd Grossman, who lays a trail of convoluted clues. Panellists are Jonathon Morris, Toyah Willcox and Lord Lichfield.

Jubilee : Film Four - Saturday 24th August : 3.45am
Jubilee : Film Four Plus 1 - Saturday 24th August : 4.45am
A controversial portrait of early British punk which imagines Elizabeth I paying a visit to the future of her sceptred isle, with the aid of an astrologer and Shakespearean fairy Ariel. Somewhat overshooting the present, she finds herself in a land of chaos and decay in which the punks have inherited the Earth. Made in the year of Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee.

Barmy Aunt Boomerang : CBBC - Saturday 24th August : 2.00pm
Barmy Aunt Boomerang : CBBC - Sunday 25th August : 2.00pm

Self Portraits UK : Channel 4 : Tuesday 27th August : 7.55pm
Short series in which celebrities are invited to make their own portrait to help launch Self Portrait UK. This edition features actor and musician Toyah Willcox and actor Mina Anwar.

Ever Wondered? : BBC Prime - Thursday 29th August : 4.50am
Toyah Willcox finds out what reading horoscopes says about human behaviour.

Mystic Challenge : Challenge TV - Thursday 29th August : 11.00am
Mystic Challenge : Challenge TV - Friday 30th August : 2.30am
Paul Ross presents a game show in which psychics, astrologers and palmists are invited to put their powers to the test. In each edition, a panel of mystic masters is invited to reveal key personal details about the lives of mystery guests. With guest Toyah Willcox.

August 19, 2002: New Site Email Address
Unfortunately I've had to change my email address for this site. The amount of "junk" mail landing daily in my Inbox means that finding my genuine mail has become almost impossible. I don't understand why people bother sending junk as I doubt anyone even reads them - what a waste! Please direct all your lovely (and always welcome) comments and messages to:


August 16, 2002: 'Jubilee'On Film Four
Toyah = Mad = JubileeFilm Four are, once again, showing Jubilee, the 1978 film in which Toyah plays Mad.

Jubilee : Film Four : Sat 24th August : 3.45am
Jubilee : Film Four Plus 1 : Sat 24th August : 4.45am

In the year 1578, Queen Elizabeth I asks her court magician, Dr. John Dee, to give her a vision of "the shadow of her time." Dee invokes the angel Ariel, who transports the Queen and Dee to the England of the future--a post-punk post Thatcherian wasteland where civilization has come to a halt. Bands of teenage girl punks roam the streets. Equally dangerous are the fascistic police. Buckingham Palace is a recording studio, the center of an entertainment empire controlled by media czar Borgia Ginz, who owns everything from the C of E to the BBC. The anti-heros of the film are led by Elizabeth's mirror image Bod, the murderous leader of a mad household that includes the historian Amyl Nitrate, the pyromaniac Mad, the sex-obsessed actress Crabs, loving brothers Sphinx and Angel, the artist Viv and their French au pair, Chaos. 

August 15, 2002: Toyah To Feature in 'Self Portraits UK'
Toyah  will be featured later this month in a channel 4 series Self Portraits UK....

"Short series in which celebrities are invited to make their own portrait to help launch Self Portrait UK. This edition features actor and musician Toyah Willcox and actor Mina Anwar."

Self Portraits UK : Channel 4 : Tuesday 27th August : 7.55pm

August 10, 2002: Toyah - Repeated TV Appearances
Truth About Women - 1998The Truth About Women, in which Toyah participated, from 1998 was repeated on Wednesday evening on ITV2.

In the show, Toyah, and other female celebrities, talk about various aspects of life from a female perspective. One of Toyah's most memorable comments was; "When I have a relationship with a man, I'm afraid it's that old cliche. I'd like it to be slightly special, no money involved. I'd like to know he hasn't been putting it around sheep in a field in Kent! I would want to know that he's quite clean." 

It Shouldn't Happen... - 2002This evening another programme Toyah appeared on more recently, It Shouldn't Happen To... A TV Performer, is also repeated. This show, on ITV1 at 8pm, was originally broadcast in January of this year.

TW recalls the time, way back in the heady days of 1987, when her tights were torn by a dancer as she performed 'Echo Beach' at the London Palladium. "It was a great routine. I was carried on, very dramatic. I was in my little 80's ra-ra skirt and the dancers had to gather round me and pull off a skirt which revealed my little ra-ra skirt. In rehearsals it never went wrong, but one of the dancers instead of grabbing the skirt grabbed my calf. It felt as though he tore my flesh, and as soon as it happened all I wanted to do was look down to see if there was any blood because it really, really hurt. I just wanted to say 'Stop!, can we start again?' I ran up to the dressing room going 'no, no' no!' I looked awful. I looked like some tired old hooker." 

As if!!

August 10, 2002: Toyah On TV - *Update*
It Shouldn't Happen To A...TV Performer : ITV1 - Saturday 10th August : 8.00pm
Urgh! A Music War : Sky Movies 1 - Tuesday 13th August : 1.15am
Under Offer : Challenge TV - Twice Daily
The Frock & Roll Years : Carlton/LWT - Friday 16th August : 2.10pm
Barmy Aunt Boomerang : CBBC - Saturday 17th August : 2.00pm
Barmy Aunt Boomerang : CBBC - Sunday 18th August : 2.00pm
Brum : BBC2 - Monday 19th August : 1.00pm
Through The Keyhole : BBC1 - Wednesday 21st August : 12.30pm
August 8, 2002: www.toyahdreamscape.co.uk - Dreamscape's New Domain
www.toyahdreamscape.co.ukDreamscape - The Toyah Willcox Fansite (hur hur!!) now has its' own domain/url address:


Easy to remember and just a tad snazzier than all that Geocities bumph!

Talking of Geocities, at present the url is directed at the Geocities site but I'm hoping to redirect it to my own personal webspace soon. This will mean no more annoying pop up ads, at last, and much needed extra space for loads more Toyah pics & stuff. If anyone has an interesting Toyah pic they'd like added to the site please email it to me and I'll include it in the Gallery soon(ish).

Huuuuuuuge thanks to Dominic and John for their help.

PS Happy Birthday to my dad today (not that he will see this) who is 68 years young:)

August 8, 2002: New Record Label, New Songs, New EP, New Video!
tw.comExciting news @ Toyah's Official website in the last week or so.

Toyah has recently been recording more new material which will find a home on another special EP, due for release later this year. 

Following a positive reaction to the limited edition "Little Tears Of Love" EP release sold on tour earlier this year and testing new material out at an intimate showcase gig at Ronnie Scott’s in June, Toyah has now signed with a new label, NMC 

Carrying the stunning "Little Tears Of Love" as lead track & main focus of the CD, the full commercial product, will retail November and feature up to 3 or 4 new tracks, "Every Scar Has ASilver Lining", "Troublesome Thing" & "Something Good" (all previewed live at Ronnie Scott’s, Soho 16/06/02) in addition to a cover of Fad Gadget’s "Back To Nature". A video is likely to accompany "Little Tears Of Love" with further visual promotion also.

Thanks to Craig Astley for his help.

August 8, 2002: 'Calamity Jane' - Tour dates in The Stage
Some months after ToyahWillcox.com announced the tour dates for Calamity Jane, showbiz "bible", 'The Stage' has got round to reporting them too:

"Toyah Willcox stars in a brand new production of Calamity Jane which commences a nationwide tour this autumn. It is adapted for the stage by Charles K Freeman, with music by Sammy Fain and lyrics by Paul Francis Webster. Ed Curtis directs and musical direction is by Peter White. 

Dates are: September - Derngate, Northampton (9-14), Apollo Theatre, Oxford (16-21), Empire Theatre, Sunderland (23-28), Regent Theatre, Stoke (30-Oct 5); October - Opera House, Manchester (7-12),Grand Opera House, York (21-26), New Theatre, Hull (28-Nov 2); November - Princess Theatre, Torquay (4-9), Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham (11-16). The tour continues next year and the dates will appear in a future issue. Produced by Tristan Baker. Productions in association with Northampton Theatres Ltd."

August 7, 2002: Toyah On TV - 'The Frock & Roll Years'
The Frock and Roll Years : Friday 16th August on Carlton & LWT - 2.10pm

Caryn Franklin presents the series looking at fashion from years gone by. At the start of the punk era in 1976, attitudes to fashion changed drastically. Toyah Willcox shares her views and discusses her contribution to punk style, together with high-profile designers Vivienne Westwood, Zandra Rhodes and Katherine Hamnett.

August 5, 2002: Toyah's rocking chair could be yours!
Have a seat!Yet another piece of rare Toyah related memoribilia is currently up for grabs at eBay auctions. The listing reads:

Rare Rocking Chair Prop From Toyah CD Cover. This is the red rocking chair as featured on ‘The Very Best Of Toyah’ CD cover and in the ‘Here & Now Tour 2002’ programme. It is in good condition, but a small area of paint has chipped off from the left hand corner of the seat (see pic.). There will be a couple of prints of Toyah on the chair thrown in for good measure. 

Thanks to Dean Stockings, who also took this picture of Toyah in the mid '90s.

August 4, 2002: 'Little Tears Of Love' - On Spyda Radio online playlist
'Little Tears Of Love' was recently on Spyda Radio's, an online radio station, weekly playlist. The station, which broadcasts live every night, can be heard with Real Player, via their website:


August 2, 2002: 'Liquid News' last night  - When Louis (Didn't) Meet...
Liquid News : 2 August 02Liquid News, the BBC Choice nightly entertainment show, included a feature on Louis Theroux and his When Louis Met... series last night. They focused, in particular, on the planned "Here & Now" docu that now looks highly unlikely ever to see the light of day.

Most celebrities are now wise to Mr Theroux's tricks and these days know exactly what to expect when given the Louis "treatment". Subsequent documentaries, including the much talked about look at Toyah, Spandau Ballet and Belinda Carlisle on the revival tour in April, are possibly going to be thin on the ground.

Cool in the shade!Toyah commented: "There was no irony, there was no controversy, and I think perhaps Tony Hadley (of ex-Spandau Ballet) wasn't willing to talk about past relationships in the band and things like that. But the rest of us are just too sussed to be piddled like that!"

Louis Theroux's "people" dispute Toyah's take on events and say that the "Here & Now" programme didn't happen because the test shooting just wasn't working. They say it happens all the time.


August 2, 2002: Toyah Interviewd on BBC Radio 2 yesterday
Toyah on Radio 2Toyah was interviewed on BBC Radio 2 this afternoon by Phil Jupitus, stand in presenter for Steve Wright on the drivetime show.

Unfortunately I missed this but I've been reliably informed Toyah arrived around 5.30ish and spoke mainly about the forthcoming Calamity Jane musical.

Many thanks to Gavin, Alec and Jon for the info.

August 2, 2002: Vote for Toyah in VH1's '100 Greatest Women' Poll
VH1's 100 Greatest Women PollVH1, the cable/satellite music channel, have a "100 Greatest Women In Music" poll at their website. The poll runs until early September and site visitors can choose their five favourite female musicians.

Please take a few seconds to vote for Toyah in the poll. VH1 will dedicate an entire weekend announcing the poll results later this year and could result in a few of Toyah's classic videos being broadcast.

NB. Toyah placed at a healthy number 48 in Q Magazine '100 Greatest Women In Music' Poll last December. There's no reason why she shouldn't do just as well in this survey.

August 1, 2002: Toyah On TV - *Update*
The Property Strip - Under Offer : ITV1 - Weekdays @ Midday
Barmy Aunt Boomerang : CBBC - Saturday 3rd August : 2.00pm
Barmy Aunt Boomerang : CBBC - Sunday 4th August : 2.00pm
Holiday On A Shoestring : UK Style - Monday 5th August : 00.30am
Urgh! A Music War : Sky Movies 2 - Monday 5th August : 3.00am
Ever Wondered? : BBC2 - Friday 9th August : 6.50am
Barmy Aunt Boomerang : CBBC - Saturday 10th August : 2.00pm
Barmy Aunt Boomerang : CBBC - Sunday 11th August : 2.00pm
Urgh! A Music War : Sky Movies 1 - Tuesday 13th August : 1.15am
Under Offer : Challenge TV - Twice Daily
August 1, 2002: 'Sunderland Journal' - Toyah has the whip hand on stage!
Sunderland Journal - 4 July 2002LIFE: Jane Hall talks to punk rocker turned actress and fifth Teletubby, Toyah Willcox

Toyah has the whip hand on stage

For those of a certain age (over 35), Toyah Willcox will always be the high priestess of punk, the woman with the brightly coloured hair and startling make-up who used to lisp her way through 'It's A Mystery' and boasted of sleeping in a coffin.

But like the rest of us, Ms Willcox has grown up. Now in her 40s she can be heard doing voice overs for hugely popular children's programmes Teletubbies and Brum, presenting the odd episode of Songs Of Praise and come September, rip-roaring her way around Britain as Calamity Jane.

It's hard to imagine Toyah - the woman who shocked and delighted the public in equal measures in the 1980s by swearing and spitting, who admitted to drinking heavily since the age of nine and who, in the film Jubilee, throttled a man while having sex with him - taking on the role made famous by sugary-sweet Doris Day.

But they say you should never judge a book by its cover, and this seems to be the case with Ms Willcox.

Now sporting a sleek platinum blonde barnet ("I leave having multi-coloured hair to the younger generation"), a teetotaller, keep-fit addict and passionate anti-smoker, Toyah, it seems, has been a lifelong fan of Calamity.

So when five stage scripts dropped through the door of her London flat last Winter - including what Toyah describes as the "most fantastic country and western musical which I know is going to be big but wasn't right for me" - she had no hesitation in signing up for the Deadwood Stage.

When Calamity Jane opens at Northampton's Derngate Theatre on September 9, it will be the first time it has been staged professionally for 20 years. But Toyah fully expects it to put "bums on seats" as it moves onto Oxford, Sunderland from September 23, and then 18 other major cities and towns.

There will be few people who don't know at least one of the songs made famous in the 1950s play and film - 'The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away!)', 'Windy City', 'The Black Hills Of Dakota' and 'Secret Love', which Doris Day took to the top of the charts for a staggering 54 weeks.

Ms Day will be a hard act to follow. For many she is, and will always remain, Calamity Jane, the Wild West's most famous, well-meaning but disaster-prone heroine who dresses like a man, totes a gun and drives the Deadwood City stagecoach.

Talented as Toyah is with an impressive list of stage and film credits to her name, isn't she worried about taking on such a high profile role? "Not at all", she says with her familiar lisp. "I didn't become an actress to say no to certain areas of work. It will be a challenge, but one I believe everyone is going to meet head on.

"I know a lot of people remember Doris Day, but remember, it's not just a revival. There is an audience out there who won't have seen Calamity Jane before.

"And we aren't trying to emulate the film. I watched the movie a few weeks ago and I thought 'no, it is such a vehicle for Doris Day'. But we are doing a play and we are doing ot from as much of an historical perspective as we can.

"Calamity Jane was a real person so there is a true, historical element to it. It is a funny story about a woman who did exist in the Mid-West."

Toyah says she was attracted to Calamity Jane because "it is a strong female role".

But there has been another carrot - if the musical is well received in the provinces, there is the possibility of a West End, or even a Broadway, run. And Toyah fully intends to be there taking centre stage.

The mind boggles at how they will react stateside to an English production of an all-American musical starring an ex-punk star.

Toyah insists there is a "very strong possibility" of Calamity crossing the Atlantic. And the reason is the September 11 terrorist attacks. "Broadway has been encountering serious problems following September 11," she says. "I think there will be huge novelty value in an English production of Calamity Jane opening there.

"There is also the nostalgia factor. People are looking to the past - and I am one of them."

Toyah has already been working hard on perfecting her bull whip technique. She has been trained by an adviser to the James Bond films, who she says "told me I had picked it up quicker than anyone he had worked with".

It will be a useful skill to add to her CV should anyone be looking to cast a lion tamer or arch villainess opposite 007.

Not that Toyah relies just on singing and acting to keep her head above water. Married to the American rock musician Robert Fripp, she has invested in property in London, the Midlands and the US.

She says fear of poverty drives her to work hard for financial success. It is all a long way from the days of orange make-up and blue hair when she told everyone "I Wanna Be Free".

Has any of the old Toyah survived? Some of the old fighting spirit certainly has. In May this year she hit the headlines when she joined villagers in Throckmorton, Worcestershire, to protest at Government plans to site an asylum centre there.

It is at this point the interview hits a rocky patch. She has, she states forcefully, been "completely misquoted" over the affair in the Press, and launches into a tirade about journalists who can't be bothered to check their facts.

She wants it known that she does not live in Throckmorton, although her parents' own a house a mile away and she has a home in a nearby market town. And, she says hotly, she is not a racist.

"I was there because the site the Government has chosen is totally unsuitable. They want to build an asylum centre on a disused airbase and I felt compelled to protest not only because the area can't sustain such a huge influx of people but because the proposed site lies just yards from where 130,000 foot-and-mouth infected carcasses have been buried."

Meanwhile, Toyah says she is looking forward to coming to Sunderland and hopes her visit will prove more auspicious than in April when she entertained the pre-match crowds at the Stadium of Light, and witnessed the home side's 1-0 defeat by Liverpool.

Sunderland Journal - Thursday 4th July 2002

Many thanks to Craig Astley for providing this.