Coronation Street comp image: Toyah Battersby then and now

Toyah Battersby’s evolution on Coronation Street from activist to widow

She's been through tough times before, but will she make it through her latest heartache?

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Toyah Battersby in Coronation Street has gone from being a teenage activist, to a heartbroken widow, desperate for a child of her own during her years on the cobbles.

She’s had a stint as landlady of the Rovers, been involved in some of Corrie’s most talked-about stories and become part of Street history.

And she did all that with a 13-year break away from Weatherfield in the middle.

Toyah’s darkest hour came when she was raped by friend Phil Simmonds in 2001. As she now reveals  she had a baby following the attack and she was stillborn, what exactly happened to Toyah all those years ago?

Toyah Battersby outside the Rovers Return

Toyah’s part of Corrie history (Credit: ITV)

Coronation Street: Toyah Battersby and her real dad

Toyah is the daughter of Janice Battersby, stepdaughter of Les Battersby, and stepsister to Leanne Battersby. She arrived in the Street with her family in 1997.

Corrie bosses got permission from singer Toyah Wilcox to use her name, as her soap namesake was said to have been born when her fame was at its height (a tactic that continued with Chesney Brown, and Kylie Platt!).

The Battersbys were dubbed the ‘family from hell’ with their loud music and disregard for their neighbours. But they soon settled into life in Weatherfield.

Toyah’s biological dad is a man named Ronnie Clegg.

She left Weatherfield to find him, but was tricked by a man named Neil Flynn. He pretended to be Ronnie, abducted Toyah and took her to some woods.

She managed to escape and Les and Janice found her bringing her to safety.

Meanwhile, Ronnie wasn’t interested in a relationship with Toyah as he had a new wife and didn’t want her to find out about his past.

Teenage girls in the 1990s in a newsagent
Toyah and sister Leanne weren’t popular when they first arrived in Weatherfield (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

Toyah and Spider

And Toyah really found herself when she met the love of her life, Spider Nugent. Spider was the nephew of Corrie legend Emily Bishop. He and Toyah hit it off despite the ten-year age gap between them.

At first, Toyah was devoted to Spider, while he was uncomfortable with her attention and tried to make it clear he wasn’t interested in her romantically.

But Toyah’s passion for the issues Spider was dedicated to – battling to save the environment – impressed the older man. He and Toyah became friends and soon their friendship turned to something more.

When they watched the solar eclipse together in 1999, the pair became a couple.

Spider, though, was so determined to make their relationship work in the long term, that he shrugged off his former ‘crusty’ lifestyle and decided it was time for he and Toyah to get a mortgage. Toyah wasn’t keen, and Spider went totally the other way, buying them both tickets to travel round India instead.

Not surprisingly, Toyah didn’t go and Spider left alone.

Spider Nugent and Toyah Battersby smile at each other before he leaves
Spider and Toyah were very much in love (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

Toyah’s rape

In April 2001, Toyah was raped and beaten after a night out.

It was the first time Coronation Street had screened a rape and it was criticised at the time. Some viewers thought the soap was trying to match EastEnders in its gritty stories.

After being fired from the Rovers for being suspected of watering down the whiskey, Toyah had a night out with mechanic Sam to drown her sorrows.

When Sam bid her goodnight at the end of the ginnel, Toyah walked up it alone.

Someone called her name and after a scuffle and a muffled scream, Toyah was attacked.

She was found lying in the ginnel by Jason Grimshaw. He took her home and the police and a doctor were called.

Coronation Street Toyah smiles as she talks to Phil
Toyah had no idea her friend would attack her (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

Who raped Toyah Battersby in Coronation Street?

Toyah couldn’t remember much, but Jason was left devastated when people thought it was him who had raped her.

Rovers boss Duggie Ferguson was the next suspect, but he was ruled out after all the men on the street gave DNA evidence. Peter Barlow, however, refused to give his DNA and was arrested on suspicion of the rape.

But Toyah’s attacker was Phil Simmonds, a man she had befriended after Duggie evicted him.

Phil was played by Jack Deam who went on to have roles in Shameless, Clocking off, Doctors, DCI Banks and Life on Mars.

Phil pretended to support her through her ordeal, but when he called out her name, something clicked and she recognised his voice.

As she tried to escape, he grabbed her, but her screams were heard by a passing Peter who saved her.

Although Phil denied the rape charges, DNA evidence proved it was him.

In August 2001, Toyah visited him at Strangeways Jail and he finally admitted to raping her.

Coronation Street frightened Toyah is grabbed by Phil who puts his hand over her mouth to stop her screaming
Toyah was left terrified, but eventually faced her attacker (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

What has Georgia said about the rape?

Speaking in 2022 about the storyline, Georgia has admitted she’s not sure about the direction it took.

In an interview with Radio Times she said: “I felt privileged to be given the story and wanted to prove myself.

“But by keeping the identity of the rapist a secret they made it a ‘whodunnit’. That was in questionable taste and in all honesty I don’t think they would do it now, but it was over 20 years ago and you learn things.

“There was controversy, but people responded positively to the work I did which was encouraging and I won some awards which was lovely.

“Maybe on some level that helped me a year or so later to leave and try other things.”

Toyah’s exit

In 2003 Toyah did in fact leave the Street.

She had a passionate affair with her college tutor John Arnley – who was also sleeping with Toyah’s flatmate Maria Sutherland at the same time.

It all ended in tears and Toyah departed

Who plays Toyah Battersby?

Toyah is played by actress Georgia Taylor. Her role in Corrie was her first professional acting job, so when she left in 2003, she was keen to try other things.

Georgia went on to play Ruth Winters in Casualty, and Kate Barker in Law and Order: UK.

She’s also appeared on stage and in films, including in the movie version of the hit play The History Boys.

Georgia is in a relationship with former co-star Charlie De Melo, who played her on-screen husband Imran Habeeb.

Return to Coronation Street

In December 2016, Toyah came back to the Street after 13 years away. It was revealed her off-screen marriage to husband Toby had broken up and she was having an affair with none other than Peter Barlow! Her one-time brother-in-law.

Their romance was a shock to the Street’s residents, but they were determined to make it work. They even became licensees of the Rovers.

But Toyah’s desperation for a baby threw a spanner in the works.

Toyah cries as she holds baby Susie in Coronation Street
Eva left with Susie, breaking Toyah’s heart (Credit: ITV/YouTube)

What happened with Toyah, Eva, and baby Susie?

Toyah and Peter had found a surrogate to carry a baby for them. But when she lost the pregnancy, Toyah didn’t want to tell Peter.

Instead, she and Eva Price – Leanne’s half-sister – hatched a plan.

Eva was pregnant with her ex-boyfriend Aidan Connor‘s baby and she hadn’t told anyone the truth, keeping her pregnancy a secret.

She and Toyah decided Eva would give her baby to Toyah and Peter and leave Weatherfield forever.

But in true soap style, it didn’t work out that way. Instead once the baby girl was born – and named Susie after Peter’s late sister Susan – Eva decided she wanted to keep her daughter.

Toyah was left without the baby and without Peter, as their relationship broke down too.

Toyah looks worried on the phone in Coronation Street
Toyah is in a lot of trouble (Credit: ITV)

Did Toyah Battersby kill Imran Habeeb in Coronation Street?

Toyah’s desperation to be a mum took a darker turn in 2022 when she and Imran fought to keep little Alfie – the result of Imran’s one-night stand with Abi Webster.

After finding out the lengths Imran had gone to to get the tot, Toyah lost it. She crashed their car into a wall, which resulted in internal injuries for Imran, who died.

The police believed she was trying to kill him, but she denies it as it would also suggest she was suicidal, which she claims she wasn’t. Toyah was eventually found not guilty in court.

Spider and Toyah on their knees in Corrie, looking scared
Things took a very violent turn for Toyah and Spider’s second attempt at being together (Credit: ITV)

Spider and Toyah reunite

Imran’s death coincided with the return of former lover Spider. He and Toyah began spending lots of time together and finally admitted they were still in love.

Despite it being soon after Imran’s death they committed to a future together.

However, Spider wasn’t being entirely honest. Not only was he married to someone else, but he was working as an undercover police officer trying to infiltrate a far-right group.

When the truth came out, Toyah found herself in great danger when she was kidnapped. Spider saved her. But he was then posted on another undercover job.

Forced to choose between his relationship with Toyah and his work, Spider left Weatherfield alone.

Coronation Street: Toyah is upset
The scars still run deep for Toyah (Credit: ITV)

Toyah’s baby confession

After some months in the background, Toyah came back to the forefront of the storylines again in April 2024 when she lost the plot in the park. She smashed up the car of some sleuths digging up the ground to try to find presumed-dead Lauren.

However despite some fans wondering if Toyah had in fact killed Lauren, her outburst is explained on Wednesday April 24. She confides in Nick Tilsley that she had a stillborn baby girl as a result of the rape by Phil Simmonds. Toyah didn’t tell anyone and buried her baby in the spot the men were trying to dig up.

She tearfully confesses everything to Nick, but then when Simon reveals a body may have been found there, Toyah panics. Will her baby secret come to light to everybody? And is she set to get in more trouble?

Read more: Who’s leaving Coronation Street in 2024?

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Coronation Street usually airs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 8pm on ITV.

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Kerry Barrett
Freelance Soap Writer