From punk princess to high priestess of TV, Toyah Willcox is a uniquely gifted performer. Charismatic, outspoken and impossible to categorise, she is one of Britain’s iconic household names – an award-winning rock legend as well as a much-loved actress and music composer.
In a career spanning thirty years Toyah has had thirteen top 40 singles, recorded twenty albums, written two books, appeared in over forty stage plays, made ten feature films and presented such diverse television programmes as The Good Sex Guide Late, Watchdog and Songs Of Praise.
It all began in her hometown Birmingham in 1977 when film director Derek Jarman offered her the role of ‘Mad’ in seminal punk epic Jubilee. She continued to gain strong roles, appearing alongside Katherine Hepburn in the film, The Corn is Green, as well as playing ‘Monkey’ in the legendary Quadrophenia. She teamed up with Jarman again to play Miranda in his innovative version of The Tempest, which won her a nomination as Best Newcomer at the 1980 Evening Standard Awards.
By this time Toyah’s band was gaining critical success with the debut single Victims of the Riddle (no.1 in the independent charts) and six track EP Sheep Farming in Barnet. Her first album, The Blue Meaning, became a Top 40 hit. A TV Documentary “Toyah”, an accompanying live album Toyah! Toyah! Toyah! – as well as hit singles It’s A Mystery, I Want to Be Free, Brave New World and Be Proud, Be Loud, Be Heard plus the platinum albums Anthem and The Changeling – confirmed her status as one of the most significant talents of the Eighties. In 1982 she won the Best Female Singer at the Rock & Pop Awards.
Over the next two decades, as well as consolidating her reputation as a singer songwriter (with albums Minx, Desire, and her least commercial album Prostitute) Toyah also forged ahead with a career as a stage performer. Notable credits include Trafford Tanzi (lead); Cabaret (Sally Bowles); Three Men and a Horse (winner of Olivier Award for best New Comedy); the UK tour of Arthur Smith’s Live Bed Show; the title role in Calamity Jane (nominated for an Evening Standard Award for Best Musical) and most recently starring as the Devil Queen in the hugely successful rock show, Vampires Rock.
Musically, the 90s saw Toyah transform from pop star to new wave diva. With her husband Robert Fripp she formed the band Sunday All Over the World, which toured world-wide. They recorded the album Kneeling at the Shrine which received rave reviews and Toyah went on to produce the critically-acclaimed albums Ophelia’s Shadow and Take the Leap!
The 90s also saw Toyah dominate our TV screens. Whether it be drama – as a dog, in the half animated real life drama series The Ink Thief with Richard O’ Brien or kid’s programming (Toyah found renewed cult status as the intro and outro voice of Teletubbies), or presenting an ‘Alternative Remedies’ series on This Morning, Toyah’s range and versatility was unrivalled. She recorded two series of the BBC’s popular F
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