We mark 20 years of Cor­rie sis­ters Leanne and Toyah

Two decades af­ter gate­crash­ing Coro­na­tion Street, Jane Dan­son and Ge­or­gia Tay­lor – aka Leanne and Toyah – on their soap lives so far…

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Con­grat­u­la­tions to you both on your big an­niver­sary – does it feel like 20 years since you joined Cor­rie or just like yes­ter­day? Ge­or­gia: It doesn’t feel like yes­ter­day, but then 20 years seems like a huge amount of time. Re­cently, we were film­ing on a set that had that aw­ful pic­ture of me and Jane from our first ever Bat­tersby pho­to­shoot. When I see stuff like that, I don’t feel that it’s me. Jane: So much has hap­pened to Leanne and to me that I think, ‘Oh my God, 20 years! That’s for­ever ago’.

Are you go­ing to mark the oc­ca­sion? Ge­or­gia: We’ve been jok­ing about re-cre­at­ing one of our clas­sic Toyah and Leanne pho­to­shoots and putting it on Twit­ter – so watch this space. Jane: I might even put the streaks in my hair! Thank­fully, you can take them out now, whereas be­fore, you had to live with them for six months.

Given the ini­tial, neg­a­tive re­sponse to the Bat­ters­bys’ ar­rival, are you sur­prised that you’re still here? Ge­or­gia: I signed up for five months, and I thought, ‘I’ve got five months on Cor­rie, that’s amaz­ing!’ To be hon­est, the ini­tial re­sponse didn’t bother me mas­sively be­cause it’s what Brian Park, the pro­ducer on the show at the time, wanted. He was like, ‘I want you to be the fam­ily that every­one hates’.

Jane: We were re­ally OTT and peo­ple didn’t take to us. But grad­u­ally, you saw Toyah’s vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties and Leanne’s weak­nesses, and how frac­tious Les and Jan­ice were with each other. So within about three months, the view­ers were quite ex­cited by this new fam­ily.

Can you re­mem­ber much about your first day on set to­gether?

Ge­or­gia: I re­mem­ber the night be­fore more. Jane and I stayed in a ho­tel in Manch­ester be­cause we had to be at the stu­dios for 7.00am, and she sug­gested we went to Pizza Ex­press for tea. I’d never been be­fore, and I thought it was dead posh! Jane had been work­ing as an ac­tress since she was 11 and she had her own car, and I thought she was the bee’s knees. I even copied her or­der. She said, ‘I’ll have the Amer­i­can and a diet coke’, and I was like, ‘Me too’.

Jane: I re­mem­ber Ge­or­gia was in the mid­dle of her A-lev­els so it was

Leanne needs a man like Cain Din­gle in Em­merdale – naughty but strong Jane

a tough time for her be­cause she had exam pres­sure as well. We re­ally bonded. Even though I’d done a few TV bits, I’d never ex­pe­ri­enced the at­ten­tion that we were about to get.

what was it like be­ing thrust into the lime­light at a young age? Ge­or­gia: There were a lot of things that we went through that maybe Vicky En­twistle [Jan­ice] and Bruce Jones [Les] didn’t, be­cause as the two young girls, we were do­ing pho­to­shoots, kids’ TV shows and go­ing to Lon­don to be in­ter­viewed.

As much as Jane had worked as an ac­tress be­fore, she hadn’t worked on any­thing with that level of pro­file. So we clung to each other, and that ce­mented our friend­ship. Jane: You can’t change his­tory and we’ve al­ways got that bond. We were kids – 17 and 18. It was such an ex­cit­ing time pro­fes­sion­ally and so­cially. We were in sit­u­a­tions that we wouldn’t nor­mally have been in, but we went through it to­gether.

if you could go back, what ad­vice would you give to your younger selves? Ge­or­gia: I’d have prob­a­bly tried to make my­self re­lax about things more. Pho­to­shoots were very dif­fi­cult for me – I used to be very hard on my­self. I’d prob­a­bly also say, ‘You are al­lowed to say no to things’. And I wish

I’d kept a di­ary, be­cause there are prob­a­bly lots of hi­lar­i­ous anec­dotes that I re­gret not writ­ing down. Jane: I was a bit more up­tight then – I think the whole at­ten­tion thing scared me. You’ve not got the life skills to be equipped for it. Some­one showed me an old photo of me and Ge­or­gia re­cently and I’d thought I was re­ally fat back then, but we looked ab­so­lutely fine. I was like, ‘What was I wor­ry­ing about?’

And if you two are still on the cob­bles in an­other 20 years, what would you like to see

Toyah and Leanne achieve? Ge­or­gia: If Toyah can’t have a child, I’d love her to find some­thing else that she can put all that en­ergy and love into. Maybe she could get back into her vol­un­teer work. Or maybe she could open an an­i­mal sanc­tu­ary. I’d love that. I’m putting that out there! Jane: At some point, I would like Leanne to have some hap­pi­ness. I think she needs some­body re­ally strong who will look af­ter her, be­cause she’s al­ways do­ing the look­ing af­ter in re­la­tion­ships. I think a char­ac­ter like Cain Din­gle in Em­merdale would be good. He’s naughty, but dead strong, and he’d give as good as he gets!

Tough teens: The sis­ters back in 1997

I’d love Toyah

to open an an­i­mal sanc­tu­ary. I’m putting that out there!

Ge­or­gia Toyah re­cently helped Leanne give birth in a lift

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