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Toyah's Street wiser; EXCLUSIVE: HOW CORRIE' S TEENAGE REBEL IS GOING FROM TART TO SMART TO SHED HER IMAGE AS A GIRL IN THE GUTTER.

IF there is one thing that Georgia Taylor can't stand it is being called a tart. Playing rebel schoolgirl Toyah Battersby, caked in garish make- up and wearing micro minis, she horrified her Coronation Street neighbours.

But no one was more horrified than the actress who played the outlandish teenager.

"In the beginning, the clothes that Toyah wore were terrible. I was very conscious of my bum hanging out from these tiny mini- skirts," she said.

"There are a lot of girls who wear those tarty skirts, but I never felt comfortable in that sort of thing."

However, wearing Toyah's revealing wardrobe isn't something Georgia has to worry about any more. After taking extra lessons from Ken Barlow, her character has started to smarten up her act, determined to better herself. And as these pictures show, Georgia is anxious to cultivate a more sophisticated image, too.

Georgia, 18, has consistently been at the centre of controversy since she started in the show 18 months ago. And she has the honour of being the first Coronation Street girl to tackle the taboo subject of under-age sex.

In a scene that was criticised for being sensationalist, Toyah and her rather unsavoury boyfriend Dobber had sex in the back seat of his car.

But Georgia defended the storyline and insisted that Corrie had not been encouraging teenage sex.

She said: "I thought the whole thing was handled sensibly and sensitively. I couldn't believe it when people complained about the scene in the car. It was suggestive, but you never saw anything at all.

"We have taken a strong moral line and are not promoting teenage sex. It's quite the opposite. Toyah's actions should be a lesson for other girls not to fall into the same trap. It was an educational storyline and I feel it was done in a responsible way.

"What mattered to me was that after that episode my mother phoned to say that she thought that the story had been really good and that the way we'd done it was spot on."

There were equally tense moments on the Street when Georgia's character ran off to London to find her real father.

Georgia said: "The situation Toyah got herself into were frightening. It is rare for the Street to pick up on issues for storylines, but if we can stop one teenager from running away away from home, then it will all have been worthwhile."

After a year on the Street, Georgia finally decided to leave the semi in Wigan where she lived with her parents and her 15- year-old brother.

Now the young blonde, who has a student boyfriend called Phil, has her own little flat near the TV studios where Corrie is made in Manchester.

"I moved into it for practical reasons, she said. "The family home is only 30 miles away but I haven't passed my driving test, so the travelling was also becoming quite tiring. My mum was upset when I left home but she understood it was the right thing for me to do.

"She's fine with it now and really happy for me.

"Now I get home whenever I can and we speak on the phone every day."

Having a place of her own has meant that Georgia has had to start developing culinary skills - not one of her favourite tasks.

She explained: "I wish I was a good cook, but I'm getting better because I have had to. I'm becoming more conscious of a healthy diet, but chocolate is my weakness."

Joining the Street at such a young age didn't faze Georgia at all. She copes well with the show's tough filming schedules and says that acting has boosted her confidence.

She said: "When I was younger, I was really quiet and frightened of being in any strange environment. But once I got into drama class, I came out of my shell."

Her very first scene in Coronation Street also helped Georgia to forget any notions about acting being glamorous. She had to rise at dawn to be ready for the cameras at 6.30 am.

She added: "I was so worried about over-sleeping on such an important morning that I booked into a hotel round the corner. Jane Danson, who plays my sister Leanne in the show, stayed with me and that was nice. We did not know each other well so we had a few hours chatting and became friends."

Georgia reckons that being pitched in at the deep end also meant that she didn't suffer from nerves at suddenly working with the best known stars in British soap.

NOW, after 18 months in the show, she feels completely comfortable with her co-stars. But during every scene, one thing is always at the back of her mind - her parents will be watching at home.

She said: "Every time I get a new storyline, I want to do it so well that my parents get taken right into the Toyah story and forget that's just me on the screen. It's nice when they ring me to comment on a particular scene."

Joining the Street has meant that Georgia's lifestyle has changed considerably. But, apart from buying the odd designer dress, she's not changed her spending habits too much.

She said: "Most of my clothes are bought on the high street. If I bought designer gear all the time, I'd be skint."

Her main treat was a week's holiday in Tenerife with boyfriend Phil and some friends. Being recognised while abroad was a bit of a shock for the young star.

She said: "That's something I have had to get used to. I was amazed how quickly people spotted me. It happened after I'd only made one appearance in the Street."

Like many teenagers, Georgia has no fixed career plan - and much the same attitude applies to her life away from the TV cameras.

Although she has a steady boyfriend, she insists that she doesn't have any thoughts about marriage.

She said: "When I was younger, I didn't believe in marriage but, if someone amazing comes along, I might want to make that commitment."

The subject of children, however, is met with a coy smile. "That's a bit more tricky," she said. "I do get maternal when I see the dancing baby on Ally McBeal.

"Every time that comes on, I think that I want one. But I know that real babies aren't like that. They need a lot of care and attention. I'd like kids, but not for a long, long time."

Georgia will line up with a host of other well-known faces from British television for Friday night's Children In Need show on BBC1.

She's due to team up with co-star Jane Danson to sing a 70s disco medley - wearing another one of those dreaded mini- skirts.

She explained: "I'm wearing quite a sparkly outfit, complete with silver knee- high platform boots.

"I know it sounds hypocritical, but it was a bit of a laugh and I suppose I can make an exception with the mini- skirt just this time. After all, it is for charity."
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Millar, John
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Nov 17, 1998
Words:1185
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