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DAY 2: GEORGIA ON LOVE, BABIES AND LOOKING SEXY: Mark matters more than my career ..I love him.

Byline: EXCLUSIVE By SUE CRAWFORD

MOUTHY Coronation Street disaster magnet Toyah Battersby has suffered more than her fair share of heartbreak.

The distraught student left Weatherfield last week after five troubled years during which she was the victim of a shocking rape and found out that her lecturer boyfriend had slept with her flatmate.

But actress Georgia Taylor can thank her lucky stars that her own life is very different from her character's harrowing existence. She is in love and settled with the man she wants to marry.

And she credits musician boyfriend Mark Eyden with giving her the confidence to go through with the decision to leave the show. He was the only person she confided in when she first thought about quitting a year ago.

"Having that support makes everything that much easier," she says.

"I'm really ambitious, but if someone said to me: `You can lose Mark and never see him again or you can have a brilliant career' I wouldn't even think about it. It puts everything in perspective. He means everything to me."

The couple met almost three years ago and it wasn't long before Mark, 22, who plays in a band called The Jackdaws, moved into her Manchester flat.

Georgia, also 22, says: "We were introduced by chance in a nightclub and I thought he was beautiful. I thought someone that gorgeous would be an absolute swine but he wasn't - it was amazing.

"He was quite shy, but there was an immediate attraction and I realised within weeks that I was in love.

"He's unlike anyone I've ever met, yet if you'd asked me at 15 to describe my ideal man he would fit every single criteria. I adore dark, rugged, manly guys - I don't really go for that clean-shaven, waxed-chest look.

"He's also really creative and talented and like me he's a bit of a perfectionist. He makes me laugh and feel very protected.

"It's not a question of if we'll get married but when, although we've not actually sat down and discussed the details. It will happen one day, but we're not in any rush."

The couple have also talked about starting a family. Georgia says: "When I was at school I was really ambitious and thought that I didn't want a man or a baby, but I think when you are in love with someone you start to think differently.

NOW I'm always banging on about feeling broody. I want to concentrate on my career at the moment, but I definitely want children one day.

"I love babies, which is why I recently got two cats, because I needed something to mother. In five years' time I would like to be living in a nice house with Mark and have a CV behind me that includes some interesting jobs."

She knows it's time she got her teeth into some unToyah-like roles.

"Toyah has got on my nerves at times because she could be so naive, but I'm quite protective of her," says Georgia. "She has a very romantic view of love and falls in love very easily, but she's a bit too trusting and never seems to be in control in her relationships.

"I used to wish she could be a bit more clued up sometimes. I'd open the script and read what she was doing next and think: `Why are you being so stupid?'

"At the same time she's a very decent person and she is very loyal to her friends. I'd like to think I was like that, too, but hopefully that's where the similarities stop." Now she's looking to the future.

"I'm excited rather than scared," she says. "I've only had one wobbly day, when I was in the flat on my own all day. I started thinking: `Am I going to be all right?' and looking around the flat and thinking how much I liked it, hoping that I would still be able to afford to live there. Luckily it was a one-off and I feel fine now. I'm really looking forward to the future."

She would love to star in a TV drama, films or theatre, but she has turned down an offer to be in the next series of I'm A Celebrity - Get Me Out Of Here.

"I'm not sure it would bring out the best in me," she admits. "I'm generally quite non-confrontational, but if someone got on my nerves in that environment I think I'd flip out."

SHE is also adamant that she will not follow in the footsteps of Corrie co-star Tracy Shaw, currently appearing naked in the stage play The Blue Room.

Georgia says firmly: "If that had been offered to me I wouldn't have taken it. I'm just not comfortable with nudity. I don't turn up at premieres in revealing dresses - in fact, I think I've only been to one premiere in my life.

"For me, being naked is a very private and personal thing and the only person I'm happy to see me naked is Mark."

When Georgia joined Coronation Street in 1997 it was as a chubby, sulky teenager. Today, she is sleek, attractive and two stones lighter.

"Some people assume it was puppy fat that just melted off me, but it was sheer hard work," she says. "I swam 50 lengths a day and cut out fatty foods.

"Because I have a chubby face I don't carry weight well. Being on television makes you look even bigger, and, playing Toyah, I didn't get to wear the most flattering clothes, so when I was 18 I decided I wanted to look and feel a bit better. I was around 10 stone and a size 12-14, but over the course of two years I went down to a size 8-10."

Unlike others who have joined soaps at a young age and gone off the rails, Georgia remains refreshingly down-to-earth. She doesn't like champagne and prefers quiet nights in with her friends to showbiz parties.

She says: "I believe some people have addictive personalities, and having the money and fame and opportunity makes it easier for them to go down that road and maybe brings things to the fore.

"But I have never found it that hard growing up in the spotlight. It's all been great fun."

mirrorfeatures@mgn.co.uk

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TRIM: Georgia has shed two stones in two years; IDEAL MAN: With boyfriend Mark Eyden
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 11, 2003
Words:1068
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