Coronation Street

Coronation Street bringing Toyah to the centre of the action proves again how valuable Georgia Taylor is

The nature of the humble serial drama is an ensemble cast; a melting pot of characters blending hilarity, sheer madness, empathy, sorrow and Kirk.

So by default, with casts boasting more characters than there are lies in the House of Commons (well, nearly), there is a conveyer belt of focus.

In Coronation Street, you can find yourself arguing with Dev over the price of a tin of marrowfat peas (inflation is going to have seriously bad news for Evelyn) and then a month down the line, a tram can be falling on you.

Over the past couple of years, massive storylines have thrust actors, who have had little screentime or limited opportunity to show the audience of their powerhouse standards, into the epicentre of the show.

We saw it with Shelley King, who delivered consistently flawless performances as abused Yasmeen Nazir over an arc of over two years.

We had arguably one of the UK’s most impressive rising stars in Mollie Gallagher, as Nina’s life was turned upside down through a hate attack, which had ramifications lasting to this day.

Jane Danson’s harrowingly ache of commitment to the loss of Leanne’s son Oliver reminded us of just how outstanding she is.

And Sally Carman never fails to hit it out of the park whether Abi is grieving, drinking, relapsing, marrying, cheating, fighting in court or falling down a sinkhole.

I could go on, but this article wouldn’t really be serving the headline.

As we have seen recently, Corrie has been raiding its archive of characters, announcing returns of people such as Spider Nugent, Wendy Crozier and Stephen Reid.

If they are anywhere as successful as the left field comeback of Sharon ‘av it’ Bentley, then the show is onto a winner.

There are characters from the past who are always on the wishlist of fans and Georgia Taylor as Toyah Battersby was always the top of many.

So the announcement that she was returning in 2016 was met with absolute glee, rightly so.

For me, as a 90s child who delved into the world of soap at a young age (to the dismay of anyone who had bought me ‘boy presents’ like a football or a bike), the arrival of the Battersbys were very much in my era.

I didn’t have enough of a connection with the previous years at that point so I was immune to the sheer controversy they caused; I just thrived in the chaos. I haven’t changed since.

Georgia was incredible from the start and through her performances and the writing, Toyah became a unique character away from the initial expectations of her just being another tearaway teen.

The highly educated and moral eco-warrior won viewers round and yet, she never lost that Battersby edge with sister Leanne. Cross this pair at your peril.

But Georgia really painted her page in the Corrie history books when she was trusted with the heavier material.

In particular, Corrie went as dark as dark had been with the show to that point when Toyah was raped.

The storyline and scenes horrified fans and that was the intention. Georgia’s portrayal of a broken Toyah had a massive impact and are remembered to this day.

The actress went on to leave the Street (rude) and found further success as Ruth Winters in Casualty, a trauma prone character with a tragic journey, which again highlighted the actress’ capabilities.

Other roles such as a professional barrister in Law and Order: UK showed off her versatility.

But for Corrie fans, there was only one character she epitomised. So when Toyah settled back into the show, we were dying for her to have one of those colossal storylines.

Universally liked by fans (this is no easy feat), Toyah has been waiting patiently for a time to shine. And it was worth it.

The past few weeks have revisited Toyah’s ongoing and sad desperation to have a family, something that many viewers can engage with and a part of the character which Corrie has never dropped.

In the past week, the emotions turned to high octane but it’s never the crash, bang and wallop of a stunt that is remembered by fans.

Well, except for that pesky tram.

The bread and butter of soap needs to be nailed in order for a crash to complement it and Toyah being central has made us care.

Imran went from the dashing lawyer who went from a hero of the court who defeated abuser Geoff to a dastardly libelling sneak.

This was built up to give an almighty pay-off to Toyah, unaware of the betrayal she was being subjected to.

The penny dropping triggered a change in Toyah; an impactful devastation but also a spark of that old Battersby grit that had previously waned.

The pain over the battle for Alife and her terror and torment over the crash and Imran’s death have, by a long chalk, been the highlights of recent episodes.

And the good news? This is just the start. Toyah has had stories since she returned but this is the one the fans have been aching for; a chance to recall that Georgia doesn’t just master the lower key stuff, but when she is tossed a real challenge, she flourishes.

Toyah is going to be arrested for murder and face a fight for her life and future – and then there is the prospect of losing Alfie and the potential of being central to a divided community who can only speculate whether she is a killer or not.

So, all in all, we have a pretty crap year ahead for Toyah. But what have all of the names mentioned at the start of the article got in common?

The characters were subjected to the worst and most miserable traumas. Drama and tragedy are horrible for the fictional character but absolutely engaging for the viewer.

The scenes we have been treated to have proven what we always knew but maybe forgot during the carousel of storyline focus, which may have left her out.

Georgia Taylor is one of soap’s biggest stars and when Coronation Street whacks her right into the heart of the action, the results are unmissable TV.

The character of Toyah is a gem of Coronation Street – so bring on the screentime.

And, sadly for Toyah, bring on the misery too.