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…
Coronation Street mon, wed, thur, fri / itv / 7.30Pm & 8.30Pm
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