Pop career edit
After studying at London-based Sylvia Young Theatre School, Billie Piper's first break in the entertainment world came as a teenager, when she was selected for a television commercial promoting the pop magazine Smash Hits. Her role was to run up to the camera, blow a bubble and shout "Pop!" Soon after, she was offered a record deal at the age of fifteen. In 1998 she became the youngest artist ever to debut at number one in the UK singles chart with "Because We Want To", released under the single name "Billie". Her follow-up single, "Girlfriend", also debuted at Number One and her first album, Honey to the B (released immediately afterwards) debuted at Number 14 in the UK album charts and was certified Platinum for album sales. She released two further singles off the album, "She Wants You" and "Honey to the Bee"; both songs debuted at Number 3.
Piper then took a year to record her second album. She decided to release further records under her full name, Billie Piper. She returned to the Singles Chart in May 2000 with a new, sexier sound. She hit the Number 1 spot with "Day & Night". She waited until the following September to release "Something Deep Inside". That reached Number 4 in the UK Singles Chart, but her success wasn't to continue. In October 2000, Piper released her second album, Walk of Life. Walk of Life reached the same chart position as her debut album (#14), but was only certified silver. The song "Walk of Life", the final single off this album, was released in December 2000 and reached Number 25 in the UK Singles Chart due to poor promotion. This proved to be Piper's last musical release, a low-key exit from the world of pop.
In 1999, Piper was nominated for two Brit Awards and was named Best Female Star at the Smash Hits Poll Winners' party, although at the latter ceremony she was reduced to tears after being viciously booed by jealous fans of Ritchie Neville, member of boyband 5ive, whom she was dating at the time.
Acting career edit
In 2003, Piper decided to end her pop career and return to her original ambition, acting. She took acting lessons while living in Los Angeles and, still a high-profile figure, quickly earned roles in the BBC Television series The Canterbury Tales (modern retellings of Chaucer's stories) and the one-off drama Bella and the Boys.
Despite the negative reaction usually given to singers who attempt to act, Piper gained very positive reviews for these appearances. Critics seemed to feel that she was a far better actress than a singer.
In 2004, she appeared in the films The Calcium Kid, as the romantic interest of Orlando Bloom's character, and Things to do Before You're Thirty. Shortly before starting work on Doctor Who she filmed a starring role in the horror movie Spirit Trap, released in the summer of 2005 to generally poor reviews.
In November 2005, she starred as Hero in a BBC adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing, updated in a manner similar to the Canterbury Tales series in which she featured, with Hero a weather presenter in a television station.
After she finished filming for the 2006 season of Doctor Who, she began work on The Ruby in the Smoke, a BBC adaptation of Philip Pullman's historical novel. Piper played protagonist Sally Lockhart, a Victorian orphan. Future Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith co-starred. The BBC planned to film all four of Pullman's Sally Lockhart novels, presumably with Piper continuing in the role.
Doctor Who edit
On 25 October 2005, Piper won the Most Popular Actress category at the National Television Awards for her work on Doctor Who. BBC News named Piper as one of its "Faces of the Year" for 2005, primarily due to her success in Doctor Who. At The South Bank Show Awards on 27 January 2006 Piper was awarded The Times Breakthrough Award for her successful transition from singing to acting. In March 2006, the Television and Radio Industries Club named Piper as best new TV talent in their annual Tric awards.
During an October 2006 appearance on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, Piper indicated that she was never a fan of Doctor Who as a child, but her involvement with series had made her enough of a fan that she was now a subscriber to Doctor Who Magazine, which she said she loved. (She proceeded to defend the magazine against jibes made by Ross.) This interview can be heard on the CD release Doctor Who at the BBC: The Tenth Doctor.
Media rumours that Piper was leaving the show were confirmed when Piper said she'd be leaving at the end of Series 2 in 2006. However, unknown to the public at large, as Piper later confessed in a 2008 instalment of Doctor Who Confidential, it was already agreed that she would return to the series and she gave misinformation to media about her plans regarding the series.
Piper's last regular appearance on Doctor Who occurred in Doomsday, which concluded with Rose and the Doctor sharing an emotional farewell as Rose was trapped on a parallel Earth.
After Doctor Who edit
Following Doctor Who, Piper continued to act and was soon cast in the lead role in the sexually explicit drama Secret Diary of a Call Girl which garnered more praise for her acting work. One episode of the series featured an appearance by future Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith. The series was a ratings success on both sides of the Atlantic, with its third season broadcast in 2009. Although she was featured in major US media in relation to that series, little reference there has been made to her star-making work on Doctor Who.
Despite having moved on to new projects, Piper did not stay away from Doctor Who for long. As noted above, even before her departure in 2006 it had already been arranged for her to return to the series at some point (and there was even a short-lived plan to produce a one-off special featuring her entitled Rose Tyler: Earth Defence which was authorised by the BBC but vetoed by Russell T Davies). A short flashback clip of Piper had been included in The Runaway Bride, an illustration of her had appeared in Human Nature and much of the 3rd and 4th series dealt with the Doctor coming to terms with the loss of Rose Tyler.
In 2007, rumours began circulating that Piper was to return as Rose Tyler in series 4, rumours that appeared to be confirmed by paparazzi photographs of her taken on the set of Doctor Who. The BBC finally confirmed that Piper would be returning as Rose in the new series and even included her image in the official advance cinema trailer (though her episodes came at the end of the season, they were filmed near the beginning of production). Her first return appearances on Doctor Who were surprise cameos in Partners in Crime, The Poison Sky and Midnight. She returned in earnest for the three-episode finale. Her full-out return in Turn Left coincided with the American debut of Secret Diary of a Call Girl.
Following her appearance in Journey's End, Piper again bade farewell to Doctor Who and returned to her work on Secret Diary of a Call Girl. However, in 2009, rumours again began circulating of yet another return to the series as David Tennant prepared to film his final appearances as the Doctor. Piper made a cameo appearance as a younger version of Rose from before she met the Doctor in The End of Time, which first aired on 1 January 2010.
Personal life edit
Piper was born in Swindon, Wiltshire, England to Paul and Mandy Piper. Her parents changed her given name from "Leanne" (originally Leiane) three weeks after registering her birth. Billie has one younger brother, Charlie, and two younger sisters, Harley and Ellie.
Piper married businessman, television presenter, and DJ Chris Evans in May 2001 in Las Vegas. Their marriage attracted much comment due to the sixteen-year age gap between the two. In October 2004, the two began a trial separation. In spring of 2005 it was confirmed that they would be divorcing. The two remain friends and in November 2005 Piper was a guest on the first episode of her ex-husband's show OFI Sunday. As of 2014 Piper and Evans live two houses away from each other. She still refers to her ex-husband as "Mr.E" (a subtle reference to her "Mystery" marriage).
On 28 October 2011, Piper and her husband announced that she was 15 weeks pregnant with their second child. Piper gave birth to their second son, Eugene Pip Fox on 5 April 2012.
In 2006, a few months after leaving Doctor Who, Piper published an autobiography, Growing Pains, in which she discussed her musical career and her time on Doctor Who.
- The Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale (BBC One, 2003) - Alison Crosby
- Bella and the Boys (BBC Two, 2004) - Bella
- Doctor Who (BBC One, 2005–2006 and came back for 4th series broadcasting in 2008) - Rose Tyler
- ShakespeaRe-Told: Much Ado About Nothing (BBC One, 2005) - Hero
- The Friday Night Project (Channel 4, 2006) - Herself (guest presenter)
- The Ruby in the Smoke (BBC One, 2006) - Sally Lockhart
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2007-2011) - Belle de Jour
- The Shadow In The North (2007) - Sally Lockhart
- Evita (1996, uncredited bit-part)
- The Leading Man (1996, uncredited bit-part)
- The Calcium Kid (2004) - Angel
- Things to do Before You're Thirty (2005) - Vicky
- Spirit Trap (2005) - Jenny
- Mansfield Park (2007) - Fanny Price
- "Because We Want To" (1998) #1 UK; #19 Australia
- "Girlfriend" (1998) #1 UK; #35 Australia
- "She Wants You" (1998) #3 UK; #9 US Hot Dance Music/Club Play
- "Last Christmas" (1998) No chart positions
- "Honey To The Bee" (1999) #3 UK; #6 Australia
- "Thank ABBA For The Music" (with Steps, Tina Cousins, Cleopatra and B*Witched) (1999) #4 UK; #9 Australia
- "Day & Night" (2000) #1 UK; #8 Australia
- "Something Deep Inside" (2000) #4 UK, #26 Australia
- "Walk of Life" (2000) #25 UK
Billie Piper shares her birthday, 22 September, with former Doctor Who actor Frazer Hines, who played the Second Doctor's companion Jamie McCrimmon. The occasion of her birthday is mentioned in the audio story The Gathering.
- Searchable index of UK chart positions, including Piper's hits
- List of all #1 songs (including Piper's) from The Official UK Charts Company
- Rage playlists (Australian music TV show) — retrieved 4 January 2006.
- Billboard Artist Chart History — retrieved 4 January 2006.
- BBC Press Office (9 January 2006). Billie Piper takes on title role as BBC secures rights to Pullman novels. Press release.
- "New role for Billie", BBC Doctor Who website, 9 January 2006. URL accessed 9 January 2006.