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Goodbye Corrie I'm off to London; On the run : Toyah's tales ends in tears.

Coronation Street stars have told how they were left in tears before filming harrowing scenes for the show's latest sensational story.

Soap fans will be shocked as teenage tearaway Toyah Battersby flees the cobbled streets of Weatherfield for the bright lights of London.

But the youngster is soon in deadly danger as she discovers the streets there are not paved with gold - and her parents Les and Janice face a race against time to save her.

Actor Bruce Jones, who plays Les, revealed: "The runaway story is the toughest I have ever had to play. When I read the script I started crying - it was so strong.

"The four of us in the Battersby family read our scripts together to work out how we are going to play our parts.

"On this occasion, all four of us were sobbing.

"It is not like a normal Coronation Street story, it's more like a Taggart or a Cracker.

"The scrapes that Toyah gets herself into on the streets of London are frightening.

"It is rare for the Street to pick up on issues for storylines, but if we can stop one teenager from running away from home, then it will have been all worthwhile.

"We also hope the show will make parents sit up and take notice. They must keep a check on what is happening to their children. They must talk to each other and sort out their problems."

Bruce, 45, told how they had spotted scores of youngsters sleeping rough in shop doorways and begging for money while they were filming in London.

He said: "It has brought it all home to us again this is not just a story for a TV drama - it's a dreadful situation that affects hundreds of families all over the country.

"There is one thing set in a police station where I burst into tears - we don't know what has happened to Toyah, whether she's dead or alive. Les has always been a tough guy in the show but now he's reduced to being an emotional wreck."

Teenage actress Georgia Taylor, who plays runaway Toyah, said: "This was the hardest filming I've ever done. I can't reveal too much about what's happened to me but it has been very tough.

"In the story, I come down to London to track down my real father and things go badly wrong.

"Toyah hitchhikes all the way and just leaves herself so wide open. She is so naive and trusting and open to being used and abused.

"There's no way I could have run away because I haven't got the confidence to set off on my own.

"But so many youngsters think that they can cope with anything at the age of 15 or 16 and then realise they are completely out of their depth."

Vicky Entwistle, 28, who plays Toyah's on- screen mother, Janice, said: "I've never cried reading a script before. I was in tears for two hours. The storyline came like a bolt out of the blue.

"I sat down with Georgia and we went through it all, scene by scene. We have put so much effort into this episode because the story is so important. What happens to our characters has left a mark on us all."

The one-hour Coronation Street special episode will go out on ITV on Wednesday September 2.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Taylor, Jim (American writer)
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Aug 22, 1998
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