Born as the result of a teenage fling between Janice Lee and Ronnie Clegg, Toyah grew up not knowing her father. She was raised by Janice and Les Battersby along with Les's daughter Leanne, who she considered a sister. Toyah was the brains of the family, idealistic but impressionable. Shortly after moving to Coronation Street in 1997, she fell for eco-warrior Spider Nugent. They were together for a while but when he quit his job at the DSS and went to India, Toyah stayed behind.
Toyah studied journalism and art at college while working at the Rovers as a barmaid. In 2001, she was raped by Phil Simmonds, a former neighbour she had helped fight eviction. She left the Street in 2003 after finding out that her boyfriend John Arnley had cheated on her with her best friend Maria Sutherland. Reuniting with Spider, Toyah spent some time running a juice bar with him in London. By 2016, she was in Liverpool working as a drug rehab counsellor. That Christmas, she left her husband of five years Toby Chapman for Peter Barlow, returning to Weatherfield.
In 2017, Toyah and Peter bought the Rovers and became the pub's new landlords. She longed to be a mother, but failed to get pregnant with IVF, and their surrogate, Jacqui Ainsworth, later miscarried. Toyah struck a deal with Eva Price to pass off her newborn daughter Susie as the baby Jacqui had carried, but the guilt of separating mother and daughter led her to return Susie to Eva. Peter then finished with Toyah and sold the Rovers, and Toyah moved in with Leanne.
1982-1997: Growing up
Toyah Laverne Lee was born in Oldham on 28th May 1982 to teenage parents Janice Lee and Ronnie Clegg. Ronnie was a useless father and Janice did most of the work involved in looking after Toyah as well as holding down a job while Ronnie did a stint in prison. Janice finally had enough of Ronnie and threw him out of the house when Toyah was only two years old; for the next few years she would raise Toyah as a single mother. Janice struggled to get by but did the best she could for her daughter.
Janice later began a relationship with Les Battersby and they were married in 1994, with Toyah officially adopting Les’s surname at the same time. In addition to a stepfather, Toyah gained a stepsister, Leanne, who was a year older than her. The Battersbys were an anti-social family and prone to disputes with neighbours, which led to them regularly being rehoused by the council.
In July 1997, Toyah and her family moved into 5 Coronation Street. Toyah was a fairly typical schoolgirl who was struggling with the normal ups and downs of teenage life. As the family moved in, Toyah stole a drill from Bill Webster's van and gave it to Les as a 'present'. She soon developed a crush on her neighbour, Spider, who introduced her to environmentalism, as well as the occasional cannabis joint. It was Spider who helped Toyah save Theresa the turkey from the Battersbys' dinner table at Christmas. Toyah became very enthusiastic about the "eco-warrior" lifestyle; so much so that she poured anti-freeze all over the freezers in a grocery store while protesting the sale of prawns in the said shop.
Toyah and Spider eventually became a couple after spending the night together on the Red Rec while watching the solar eclipse (amongst other activities). They lived together at Emily Bishop's house for a short while, but she put them out after they disobeyed the rules regarding sex in the house. They pitched a tent on the Red Rec to live in but unsurprisingly, this did not last long. They wound up living in Linda Sykes's old bedsit at Flat 3, 6 Arnica Street, and for a while, Spider paid the rent with the money he was earning at the benefits office. When Spider left his job on principle, he decided to take a trip to India. Toyah couldn't face going that far away and Spider left without her.
The night before Easter Sunday in 2001, Toyah was having a night out with mechanic Sam Kingston. While on her way home alone, Toyah was raped and left for dead in the ginnel, only to be discovered the next morning by Jason Grimshaw, out for an early morning run. Toyah was forced to tell her mother what had happened and relive the event while relating her story to the police. Matters were complicated because Toyah was only semi-conscious at the time of the attack, and therefore did not know who her attacker was. After much finger-pointing at various male residents of Coronation Street, it was discovered on 30th April 2001, that Toyah's rapist was Phil Simmonds, a man she had befriended after meeting through Spider. Phil had come over to her house to comfort her after the ordeal but when he called her name while she was in the kitchen, Toyah had a flashback and realised that her attacker was sitting in her living room. Toyah tried to pretend that everything was alright, but Phil realised that she had remembered what he'd done to her and grabbed her around the throat. Toyah was saved when Peter Barlow (who had himself been accused of the crime, but was ruled out by DNA evidence) heard her screams and broke down the door. Phil was eventually sent to prison, but Toyah was traumatised by everything that had happened to her.
After the ordeal, Toyah returned to college, moved in with Fiz Brown and Maria Sutherland in the flat above the hairdressers' and tried to move on with her life. In 2002 she started dating one of her former professors, John Arnley. Toyah left him after discovering that her best friend Maria had had a one-night stand with John in January 2003, which resulted in her falling pregnant by him. Despite the fact that Maria had an abortion, Toyah couldn't handle John's infidelity and left for a new life in Sheffield, before reconciling with her ex-boyfriend Spider Nugent and moving to London with him, as he had started his own juice company there.
After her departure, Toyah was mentioned numerous times by the Street's residents, mainly by Janice and Leanne. At some point after leaving the street, her and Spider split up. She married a man named Toby Chapman in 2011 and went to stay with him in Liverpool. Leanne was upset when Toyah was unable to make her 30th birthday party that July due to missing her train.
On the day of Tina McIntyre's funeral in June 2014, Leanne was called away to attend to Janice at Toyah's flat in Liverpool. While looking after the property, Janice had injured herself trying to climb through a window after locking herself out.
In mid-2016 Toyah began having an affair with Leanne's ex-husband Peter Barlow after the pair had met at a bar. The pair of them continued to correspond and when Peter returned to the street in November he didn't disclose the relationship. Toyah returned to the street herself the following month on Christmas Day, having left Toby. When Leanne asked what happened, Toyah claimed that Toby got angry which forced her to flee. Toyah and Leanne witnessed a fight between Peter and Nick in the street, as the latter accused Peter of still fancying Leanne. In order not to disclose his secret with Toyah, Peter claimed he still cared for Leanne. Later that evening, Toyah met Peter at a hotel and they slept together.
Hobbies and interests
Toyah Battersby was introduced to Coronation Street as part of the roguish, "family from hell" Battersby clan. The role went to 17-year-old Georgia Taylor, a student of the Willpower Youth Theatre. It was Taylor's first professional acting role; she had originally auditioned for the part of pregnant teenager Zoe Tattersall, which ultimately went to Joanne Froggatt. Toyah first appeared, debuting alongside her stepfather Les and stepsister Leanne, in Episode 4223 broadcast on 4th July 1997, her mother Janice having first appeared seven months previously.
The character of Toyah was named after actress and singer Toyah Willcox who was at the height of her popularity around the time that the character would have been born. Willcox granted the producers permission to name the character after her.
In 1999, Taylor was nominated for Best Dramatic Performance at the inaugural British Soap Awards for her role as Toyah, but lost out to Emmerdale's Kelvin Fletcher. However, she was nominated for the same award two years later in 2001, and this time walked away with the prize. It came hot on the heels on a storyline in which Toyah was raped by Phil Simmonds.
In January 2003, Toyah was teased to be murdered by Richard Hillman via ITV1's Killer Corrie promotion. In the trailer she was very briefly seen (alongside Archie Shuttleworth, Audrey Roberts and Emily Bishop) as Richard spoke about his murderous intentions. This was a red herring, as the eventual victim was Maxine Peacock, not seen in the trailer. Toyah departed from the programme, very much alive, the following month.
Over the next thirteen years, Toyah was mentioned by other characters; the character even planned to return for Leanne's 30th birthday party in 2011 but "missed her train". Leanne also visited her sister on multiple occasions, but always offscreen. Georgia Taylor was asked to return for a couple of episodes in 2005 as a guest at Les's wedding to Cilla Brown, but had other commitments.
First and last lines
"Dad...? Happy birthday!" (First line)
List of addresses
|Waitress||Roy's Rolls||1997 to|
|Barmaid||Rovers Return Inn||2000 to 2001|
|Landlady||Rovers Return Inn||24th July 2017 to 8th August 2018|
|Counsellor||Rosamund Street Medical Centre||5th September 2018 to 11th March 2020|
|Sales clerk||Underworld||17th April 2020 to present|
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