Toyah took the big step of taking Imran back. Do you think she would have done it if Elsie had not been around?
That’s a really good question. I think Elsie was an enormous factor in the decision that she made. Obviously, the need for Toya to be a mum is something that has dominated the last few years of her life and it’s very much her priority and Elsie is her priority and, and definitely the idea of them being together and being a solid family unit would make it much easier to go through with the adoption of Elsie.
What sort of reaction do you get from people to the fact that she took him back after she found out he had cheated?
Think people seem to like them as a couple, which is really nice for me and Charlie. I feel like there was a time a few years ago when we maybe weren’t working together as much and now they’re giving us stuff as a couple people seem to be responding to it quite favourably. It is also down to how the scenes are played. What Charlie does is, whenever we have scenes where he’s trying to make amends and win her trust back he plays it so sincerely and with such warmth. That makes it easier for me to play someone being convinced by that, because he’s not playing him with an agenda. He’s not playing him as being in any way malicious. He’s playing the truth for Imran, which is that he really does love Toyah, and he’s messed up but he really wants to make it work. So when I’m getting that from Charlie in the scenes, it makes it easier for me to play. Okay, maybe this is worth a shot. And I think that’s what the viewers see.
So how did you feel when you first found out about the storyline, it taps into two huge parts of her character, her need for a child but also a compassion for people in crisis?
I think the way they plotted this is brilliant. It’s classic soap. And the fact that she embeds herself into Abi’s life she’s like a dog with a bone. She sees this woman who’s vulnerable. She almost decides she’s going to make her her pet project, and get her back on her feet, get her back on track. And of course, it’s torture for Abi because all the while she knows what she’s actually done to and that the person who is trying to help her the most is the person she’s betrayed. So it’s a classic soap conundrum, that I think this show does really well and the viewers will see Abi and Toyah’s friendship develop. Abi starts to really confide in her and you see just how tricky that is for Abi. And of course, Toyah is oblivious; she just sees this woman and wants to help her.
Toyah has really been there for Abi from the outset, why does she want to help her so much?
Toyah likes to think she can fix people. Also when I first came back into the show, and we talked about Toyah being a counsellor, it was actually specified that she was a drugs rehabilitation counsellor, which we haven’t really touched on so specifically in the show, but I’ve always had that in my head that she has a history of working with addicts, so that it adds an extra dimension. You know, she has experienced that and then obviously she dated Peter for a while and he’s an addict. And of course she’s not getting the satisfaction of what she’s trained for working in sales. Something on the phone. That side of her that’s kind of compassionate and nurturing and wants to help people improve their lives that’s not being fulfilled, working in the factory.
She has kept the identity of who she is helping from Imran but she has been asking his advice and inadvertently ends up letting him know what is going on and he rushes to the hospital, was Toyah at all suspicious?
I played it that she wasn’t suspicious of him at all at that point and actually grateful for his interest and help . Actually, what’s interesting is Toyah feels bad for keeping the truth from him in the first place. It was about harking back to client confidentiality even though she’s not an official client. She was respecting Abi’s wishes and wasn’t going to share this with anyone. And then when it comes out, she feels bad towards Imran and thinks I probably should have just told him and because if he’d known sooner he would have helped even sooner, so I played it that she really doesn’t suspect anything.
What happens at the court case? Is Toyah at all questioning of why Imran is fighting so hard for Abi and is suddenly very interested in the case.
His passion for his job and causes is one of the things she loves about it. There’s a lot of similarity in that they both care about fighting with people and what is right. We saw that in the case with Kelly and how he fought for her. And then how passionate he was about that. She just thinks he’s a good man and that he’s just trying to do a good thing and she’s proud of him.
At this point she tells Imran that he has done all he can and she wants him to focus on Elsie, she she worried about how passionate he seems about Abi’s case and what that means for her and Elsie?
After the court case, we do have scenes where she questions how emotionally involved he’s become. Again, I don’t think she’s suspicious. I think she’s concerned about his own well being because he was like that with Kelly, putting too much into his work. He’s not looking after his own mental well being. So she does pick up on something. But she just thinks it’s that he’s being particularly dogged and tenacious, and not that it’s that he has a personal interest in the case.
We are edging ever closer this week to Toyah discovering the truth. This is the ultimate betrayal. How do you feel she will be able to cope when she finds out that a drunken one night stand has resulted in Imran having the child they couldn’t have together?
It is the ultimate betrayal and for Toyah it is the most heartbreaking thing that could happen to her. And you know, nobody likes to be cheated on for a one night stand. It is not going to make you feel great about yourself whoever you are, but the fact that this has resulted in the one thing that she can’t give him, that’s going to hurt on a whole other level.
Also, there’s the fact you have these two very different women. You have a woman who has given birth to her fourth child and it is the only child she has left and who has given up to children to be adopted, which is something that Toyah would never do. And then you have Toyah who obviously can’t have children and is desperate to be a mum. So there’s going to be a huge conflict between them based on that as well.
Will Toyah feel any pity for Abi?
Toyah is going to have a huge conflict with her own conscience about thinking those things because fundamentally this is a woman who is damaged and an addict and who she would have helped in a previous life and has been helping. To suddenly be faced with the fact that she has this child with Imran will be a huge internal conflict for Toyah because the compassionate side of her would want to sympathise with Abi, and understand the predicament she’s found herself in. But when it hurts Toyah it’s very difficult to be objective about that. And so we will see a battle in his mind with how she reconciles this and how she deals with the situation. She is bound to be furious but then as things move on, maybe we see a different side where she tries to understand Abby’s position a bit more.
Could there be a point where Toyah thinks that Alfie, Elsie and Imran could be the family she has always wanted?
I think that’s definitely possible. But again, there will be things within that that she will have to make amends with the fact that the child will always be imran’s biologically but will never be hers. And so there’s that to contend with and she will always feel the odd one out, which I think is something really interesting to explore in terms of blended families and it’s a very modern predicament that people find themselves in where a child is blood related to one parent and not to another. The story could go in so many different ways and that is what I love about it.
Coronation Street airs hour-long episodes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8pm on ITV.