Fancy a delicious treat? Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp are taking their stonkingly popular Sunday Lunch rock video-performances on tour. Katie Jarvis asks all the important questions, including which of them does the washing up

It’s the first week of lockdown: a Sunday in April 2020. Six-am and a warm sun is rising.

In the outside world (whatever that might mean in April 2020), everyone is feeling unnerved; scared, even. The pandemic has started; people are prisoners in their own homes; time on their hands but – in a possible first – no one has the slightest idea what to do with it.

Oh – except for Toyah Willcox, that is.

Out in the garden of her Pershore home, she’s doing what she feels to be The Obvious.

‘If we’re stuck in this house for weeks,’ she thinks, ‘I’m going to put a ball gown on.’

Which she does. Pearlescent, fishtail, clingy, strappy, sheer; one of those inspired charity-shop buys.

As her husband Robert Fripp takes photos, another thought strikes. (Again, The Obvious.)

‘I’m going to teach you to jive,’ she says to him.

So she does. And they film it. Jiving to old Bill Haley & His Comets; Rock Around the Clock. (Robert in classic three-piece suit and tie.)

And they post it.

And, within five minutes of it going live, 100,000 people have seen it! (Or, to be more impressively precise, there are 100,000 comments.)

Great British Life: Toyah and Robert's Sunday LunchToyah and Robert's Sunday Lunch

Ping, ping, ping, ping, ping…

Bali. New Zealand. Australia. Japan.

Ping, ping…

Pretty much everyone is saying the same: Thank you! You’ve cheered up our Sunday.

IT’S 2023. So extraordinary was the reaction to that very first video, Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp have posted another every Sunday since.

It’s become known as Toyah and Robert’s Sunday Lunch series: anarchic outfits; fabulous guitar riffs; Toyah singing cover versions of favourite rock anthems. (While Robert is just being Robert.)

Sweet Dreams are Made of This (Toyah in dog collar; pixelated bare breasts). Toyah smearing herself – live – with body paint: tomato-purée red; cobalt blue; plasticine-green (AKA ‘The One With The Body Paint’), while singing Foo Fighters.

Blondie covers; Britney; Bowie; ZZ Top…

And, alongside Toyah’s gloriously outrageous tongue-in-cheek-ness, Robert still just being Robert.

But even now that first video – back in the dark days of April 2020 – holds a special place in their hearts.

‘Do you want to see this film?’ Toyah asks, nostalgically, finger poised to replay it.

‘Yes, dear,’ Robert says, with tolerant mock-sigh.

‘Do you need your glasses?’

They peer into the screen as the dancing begins.

‘Does it not occur to you,’ Toyah asks, ‘how cute you are?’


I mean, really quite weird.

I’m interviewing Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp…

(Punk princess. Rock royalty. The background to much of my young life: Lying in my darkened teenage room, moodily listening to It’s a Mystery (the standard teenage anthem/world-view). At uni (my Sophisticated Phase), super-cool-y listening to In the Court of the Crimson King at Mach 1. (With headphones on, obviously. I was fantasy-prog-rock-polite.))

Great British Life: Toyah and Robert. Photo: toyahandrobert.comToyah and Robert. Photo:

BTW, this is not the bit weird bit.

No. The weird bit is this. I’m looking back over an interview I did with Toyah years ago. (2008, to be precise.) And guess what we spoke about?


How Rula Lenska came to Toyah’s elegant Georgian Pershore townhouse to film an episode of Living with the Dead. (I’m not making this up.) And, despite Rula being a complete sceptic, how she’d had a vision in the cellar of dying children, which turned out to be a vision of an ancient plague (not sure how the house-dates add up, but bear with me). Children kept underground by parents desperately trying (and failing) to protect them from contagion in the town above.

So how odd.

How very spooky that, some 15 years later, the subject is the same.

Toyah nods.

‘I remember, yes!’

Yet also interesting, Robert throws in, how – even when the subject is as dire as plague – the collective human memory is so short.

‘This morning, over our tea and conversation, my wife said to me, ‘No one mentions Covid anymore. It’s just not a topic of conversation.’ But to go back three years, the fear in Pershore was palpable. And the only time we saw our neighbours is when we would come out, on Thursday at 6 o’clock, and applaud the NHS. Most times an ambulance would drive by and they’d wave.’

‘And we weren’t allowed to touch. It was heart-breaking.’

‘My wife was quite adamant,’ Robert continues. ‘She said, ‘We have a responsibility, as performers, to lift people’s spirits.’’

I love that they did just that. That they sang and danced in their kitchen – in the privacy of their own home, with an invisible audience – feeling free to be who and what they truly were. And released it in video-form each week to jolly everyone up.

And selflessly so.

Because, despite the fun and frolics, they were hardly untouched by the pandemic themselves.

‘The most difficult thing about lockdown for both of us, as touring musicians, was: there was no audience; no tours. Music and performing is very much our oxygen.’

Robert nods:

‘Ever since we’ve been married, I’ve been leaving my wife on a regular basis – often on New Year’s Eve – and setting off two months at a time. To actually be with my wife on a day-to-day basis, pretty much consecutively throughout at least 18 months… I think maybe some couples in lockdown found that being physically very close with their partner didn’t always perhaps turn out as well as they might have hoped. With me, it was a joy.’

‘Add to that the terror that my husband might get ill,’ Toyah agrees. (Bear in mind that Robert is 77 years old; Toyah (though, genuinely, who would guess) 65.) ‘And that deepens how protective we felt towards each other. We really loved being together. We were very aware that we were morphing into something we’d never visited before. And that was having time for each other – having time to talk.’

Oh my gosh, I say (listening as they take turns as naturally as breathing; neither speaking over or interrupting the other). We knew they were Rock Gods. Turns out we were missing a trick. 21st Century Schizoid Man grew into 21st Century Relationship Counsellor.

‘We were getting a lot of messages back from people who were suicidal,’ Toyah says, ‘so we started to do something called Agony Aunts, where we would talk through things. And just acknowledging people seemed to help.’

‘It was very moving to me the many messages we received both personally and publically; how hard the lives of good, ordinary people were. And the desperation in some of these messages was heart-breaking.’

Hard for both of them, too, I suggest, suddenly to have that unexpected weight dropped on their shoulders…

‘We had the time needed to deal with it. We normally both get around 100 emails an hour all through the day; so all that stopped. And we are very productive people.’

So productive, in fact, that Toyah wrote and recorded a new album in lockdown (Posh Pop). Plus, they started video-messaging fans: ‘And some of those were interventions to stop suicides. We started to contact families; to contact friends of these people, and to do interventions as much as we could…

‘We learned a lot about humanity and grace. We’re used to being put on pedestals; to being fed well; to travelling well, wearing good clothes. Suddenly, we’re in a situation where we either ignored the world or we contributed.’

And that, I have to say, is incredibly moving.

Strangely enough, though, what moves me most is their evident closeness to each other; the respect and love they show.

‘We realised our relationship was a responsibility towards others. We don’t wash our dirty laundry in public. Our support for each other is also a metaphor for our support to our audience.’

Toyah stops and grins…

‘I’m sure, if we had children, we might be as frazzled as everyone else who has children…. I can be a grotty rat-bag sometimes.’

Robert looks outraged. ‘No, never!’

GOT TO TELL YOU how they met. Such a good story.

It was back in ’83, when they shared a taxi to an awards ceremony, these two legends. Robert Fripp might have been in the top 10 of world-leading guitarists (having played with Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Blondie) but Toyah had no idea who this very quiet man could be. The reverse was true, too – living in New York, he had missed the sensation that was Toyah.

Two years later, they met again.

Robert had already told friends this was the woman he was going to marry. He proposed within a week. All that was left was for them actually to get to know each other.

‘Umm,’ I say, thinking this through. ‘Was there never actually – you know – a moment when you thought: ‘I’m going mad. I don’t know this Toyah Willcox!’?’

‘Every day, he thinks that,’ Toyah says.

‘When we got married first of all, I was asked, ‘How did you know it was your wife?’ And, yes, we had our first date on the Friday; and, on the Tuesday, I thought, ‘This is my wife.’ Toyah came down the next Friday and I proposed.

‘Well, my answer was: ‘How could I not know this is my wife!’

‘There is an extraordinary story,’ Toyah chips in, ‘that he lived in New York at the time and his diary just wasn’t filling. For three specific weeks, the diary just was not filling, which was unusual. So he had an inkling he had to come to England because he was going to meet his wife.’

‘Well, there you are,’ Robert says to her. ‘I’ll put it like this: the universe conspired to make sure I met my little lovie and gave me the opportunity to propose to her.’

Well, he wasn’t wrong.

‘No, I was completely right; and I must say the universe was right. So my aim as the husband to Sweet-Lips Willcox here is to be the husband that my wife needs. It’s not always the husband that my wife wants….’

‘That’s not true.’

‘Ah! Let me keep going, please, sweetie. I think it’s important that I’m the husband my wife wants, at least for quite a bit of the time, but more importantly, am I the husband that my wife needs? So that’s my aim.’

SO, LOOK. I know I should have started with this. The main news.

That Toyah and Robert’s Sunday Lunch is going on tour. (Whooh! Such fun!)

Dressing up; music; choreography… (‘It will be age-appropriate!’ Toyah interjects. OK – so young people welcome.)

But how will that video sensation translate onto stage in Cheltenham, Birmingham and all the places in between?

‘I will not be dancing on the tour,’ Robert stipulates.

(Oh, come on! I’m not going to publicise that!)

‘The heart and the bedrock of the tour is a rock band,’ Toyah says. ‘We’re going to give the best performance we can possibly give that audience. Inevitably, our sense of humour and our chemistry is going to come across.’

They’ll have a projection beaming – I assume – some of those now-famous Sunday Lunch video moments. But, at the core, a rock show: two consummate performers with almost 100 years’ experience between them.

‘What we discovered when we were doing Sunday Lunches is how astonishing the history of rock music is around the world. There’s an endless – almost eternity – of rock songs to choose from and they’re all utterly brilliant. And we want to share those with the audience.’

‘This is a rock party,’ Robert reiterates. ‘Let’s hope that people have a good time because, when I strap my guitar on, that’s my intention!’

‘I love that you’ve both had this incredibly glam life…’ I begin, with some final questions.

They laugh.

‘A glamorous life!’ Robert echoes, with a touch of disbelief.

Yeah, OK. I’m not saying there aren’t times when there isn’t Sunday lunch washing up to be done… Actually… Who does the washing up?

‘My wife would say she does it more than me. I think she’s wrong. I believe I do more washing up than my wife… But I’m watching her lips purse.’

Toyah and Robert’s Sunday Lunch Live Rock Party 2023 Tour is at Cheltenham Town Hall on October 1, Birmingham Town Hall on October 29 – with lots of dates in between. For more information, visit