The Lowdown on: Billie Piper

September 9, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

secret-diary-review.jpgThis week, Billie Piper returns to our screens in Secret Diary of a Call Girl. We take a look at her humble beginnings and how she came to lose the clothes and become the scantily clad mistress, whose photograph is plastered on billboards all over London town.

Because She Wanted to…

Billie Paul Piper (née Lianne but changed for some reason a few weeks later…) was born in 1982 and attended The Sylvia Young Theatre School determined to be famous. Her toothy grin first came to the fore in that cringe worthy interval that was the nineties world of pop. She did a stint on the Saturday morning kid’s TV show, Scratchy and Co and then landed a part in a commercial. Does anyone remember that slightly annoying and dated ad for Smash Hits magazine? You know the one, where a shaggy-haired teenager blows a bubblegum bubble in the camera and shouts “Pop? against a soundtrack of pumping music- yep, that was Billie…


Soon after in 1998, aged just fifteen, she became the youngest artist to debut at number one with “Because We Want To?, the video of which she appears to drop from a spaceship and proceed to dance with her crew and the odd alien in the street- she was clearly destined for Doctor Who. I could put the actual clip in at this point, but this shorter “Billie and the Daleks? Version that some clever so-and-so had made is way more inventive.

Her singing career then peaked and promptly dropped off the radar. After the likes of “Girlfriend? and “Honey to the Bee?, her second album didn’t go down quite as well, though she was nominated for two Brit Awards and won Best Female Star at the Smash Hits Poll Winners’ Party in 1999 despite being driven to tears by an obsessive mob of fans of Five’s pretty boy Ritchie Neville, who, instead of getting real lives, booed her in a jealous rage.

Sshh…don’t sing, just read the script…

After taking a break from the limelight after her Las Vegas marriage to DJ and TV guru Chris Evans in 2001, she returned in 2003 not as a singer, but an actress, her original ambition. In 2004 she appeared in the films The Calcium Kid opposite Orlando Bloom and Things to do Before You’re Thirty and the year after starred in the horror movie that was a bit of a flop, Spirit Trap.

Billie who? Oh, the one in Doctor Who!

billie-dr-who.jpgBillie’s main catapult back into the British consciousness came in 2005 with her role as Rose Tyler in Doctor Who with its bizarre and somewhat unfounded cult status. Consequently, she won a cornucopia of awards including Most Popular Actress at the 2005 and 2006 National Television Awards for this and the Times Breakthrough Award for her triumphant transition from singing to acting. After leaving the show officially in 2006 she has returned for three episodes in the current series.

From Family Entertainment to Modern Day Strumpet…

As well as Doctor Who, Billie has performed in other family-viewing type shows including an adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing and the Canterbury Tales, which saw her acting career mushroom. More such roles came in, those of Sally Lockhart in a BBC adaption of Philip Pullman’s novel The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow of the North. The BBC plans to film the remaining two of Pullman’s books with Billie in this role. In 2007, Ms. Piper played Fanny Price in ITV’s Mansfield Park- her first step away from the BBC.

In 2007 Billie also did a stint treading the boards of the Garrick Theatre in Christopher Hampton’s play, Treats. It was in this that she met her current husband, Laurence Fox.

billie-belle-de-jour.jpgThat year we also saw a rather different side to the former princess of pop, in her part in the adaption of Belle de Jour’s The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl on ITV in Secret Diary of a Call Girl. After a raunchy first series including semi-nude scenes and a lesbian romp (ooh, err..) performed by Billie herself, the second series included two body doubles to hide the fact that she was pregnant when filming- that’ll be one to tell the baby then…

And lastly, we like Billie best because…

One of Billie’s finest moments has got to be when she outright refused to take any money from former husband Chris Evans’ reported £30m wealth or his £540,000 salary from Radio 2 upon their divorce in 2007. “I’m not taking a penny from him?, she declared, “I think that’s disgusting.? Just shows that even celebrity splits can be conducted with a little dignity.

And this independent lady continues to shine. In the unlikely case that you haven’t noticed the billboards, catch her in series two of Secret Diary of a Call Girl this Thursday night.