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They're feisty, funky and full of cheek ... and they're bringing Girl Power to Coronation Street.

They're Weatherfield's teenage strife girls Leanne and Toyah Battersby - the top soap's secret weapon guaranteed to spice up the ratings.

And residents are in for some real shocks after the new kids on the block made their TV debut last week - complete with yob parents Les and Janice.

Sexy Jane Danson, 18, who plays tearaway Leanne, said: "They certainly came in with a bang. It was a case of `oh my god they're here'.

"They're very different to anyone else on the show. Leanne's loud, cheeky and in yer face.

"She's very cocky, doesn't give a toss and does what she wants. She's just a lout coming in at three o'clock in the morning all the time.

"She disrupts the Street with her loud music and she's always smoking and getting on everybody's nerves."

Baby-faced Georgia Taylor, 17, who plays Leanne's younger step-sister Toyah, adds: "Toyah's gobby and cocky and makes her parents' life a misery.

"But it's brilliant playing her, it's more fun than playing somebody nice."

The shocking new family designed to shake-up the Street are the brain- child of Scots producer Brian Park. Wheeler dealer dad Les - actor Bruce Jones - has a criminal record and spent six months in Strangeways for handling stolen goods.

Mum Janice, who has also been in prison for fraud, has already appeared as a machinist in Mike Baldwin's factory.

She's shrewd and street- wise, but mouthy Janice hasn't learnt any lessons from her time spent inside.

The girls, who are half-sisters, are known to police for their under- age drinking exploits as well as crimes such as theft and burglary

Leanne, Les's daughter from his first marriage, mirrors Spice Girl Geri Halliwell because of her blonde- streaked hair. Meanwhile, Toyah is Janice's daughter from a teenage fling and looks similar to Baby Spice Emma Bunton.

They have all moved into taxi driver Don Brennan's old house after being re- housed by the council. It took wardrobe three hours to dye Jane's hair to deliberately look like an amateur home- job and create Leanne's tarty look by painting her nails with chipped blue nail varnish teamed with skimpy clothes and even a love bite.

Jane - who won the role after being spotted in ITV drama The Grand as the put- upon maid - said: "She's like a second-hand Spice Girl, who can't afford to go the whole way.

"But she wouldn't think twice about nicking clothes if she had the chance."

Georgia, who makes her acting debut on the show, added: "I hate the clothes, they show a bit too much flesh for me, but they're great for Toyah."

For our sexy photo-shoot, the Record transformed the girls beyond recognition by dolling them up in our glamorous clothes.

But off-screen, Jane and Georgia are a far cry from their bad-girl characters.

Jane - who still lives with her parents in Manchester and has an older brother and sister - giggled:"I have always been a good girl.

"I was a school prefect and everything. I used to work really hard at school so I could get time off to do acting jobs. I'd never dare shoplift like Leanne. I'm not that sort of person. I'm a real worrier. I would feel guilty even thinking about it."

Jane revealed how she got a hard time from some of her schoolmates who resented her success.

She said: "You really find out who your friends are.

"It wasn't jealousy, it's because they don't know anything about it. I think they thought I'd be really obnoxious or something.

"People called me names, but I let it go over my head really. They were a bit like Leanne. She would have been my worst enemy at school."

Jane had her first taste of showbiz success aged nine after winning a Pontin's talent contest, singing the Bangles' hit song Eternal Flame.

She joined a youth theatre group and took part in school productions.

Her first professional job came when she was 11, playing an eight-year- old girl called Elaine Critchley in the critically acclaimed drama GBH.

Since then, she's had regular TV work including The Bill and Children's Ward.

Jane got the job on the Street after auditioning for the role of pregnant tearaway Zoe Tattershall, but landed Leanne instead.

She said: "My parents have never been pushy and always been really supportive. They are always really excited when I get a TV job. My dad doesn't say much, but I know he's really proud. My mum loves it and tells all her friends."

For her first appearance in the soap, the whole family stayed at home to watch the show.

Jane said: "I just didn't believe I'd got the job until I filmed a scene in the Rovers Return.

"I have always been a big fan of Coronation Street. It still hasn't hit me yet. My favourite characters are the Duckworths and the Malletts.

"Everyone has been really welcoming and keep asking how we are doing."

In her spare time, Jane loves to go out for romantic meals with her long- term boyfriend.

She said: "He's not in the business and is really supportive. He's my ideal man and I have been seeing him for a while, but I'm not saying any more."

Newcomer Georgia was equally gob-smacked when she landed the role of Toyah.

Georgia, who lives in Wigan with her parents and 14-year-old brother, said: "I was just completely in shock.

"My parents have been really supportive and don't mind if I stay overnight in Manchester. My dad worries about the fame aspect and how I will cope with it. But they think I am mature enough to handle it and will make sure I keep my feet on the ground."

Georgia added: "My brother is really excited and has told everyone at school. I've told him I'll buy him a really posh cricket bat when I get paid and he keeps asking when he's getting his bat."

Georgia also landed the role after auditioning for the part of Zoe.

She first got into acting after taking a GCSE in drama and going on to star in her school productions before signing up with an agency.

But unlike her squeaky clean co-star, Georgia admits she did have one memorable run- in with her mum.

She recalled: "I got my nose pierced. I asked my mum if I could have it done and she said no - so I did it anyway.

"When I came home with it, my mum just laughed. I realised I'd gone against her wishes but, once we'd talked it all through, she appreciated where I was coming from."

At school, Georgia was always getting into trouble for yapping.

She said: "I wasn't especially naughty at school, but I was always being told to shut up by my teachers because I was too chatty.

"I would have liked to have been in the same class as Toyah, because you know she would cause trouble and just have a laugh.

"Secretly, I think everyone would like to behave like Toyah does."
COPYRIGHT 1997 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Graham, Polly
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 18, 1997
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