Life Outside the TARDIS: Billie Piper

Billie Piper in ‘The Ruby In The Smoke’

This will be a little more varied than our usual clip collections, because young Billie has managed three successful careers in a very short space of time.

In 1996, she was the classic aspiring model-slash-actress, having appeared in more than a few teen ad campaigns, most notably for Smash Hits magazine:

But not before she appeared as an extra in the Jon Bon Jovi film The Leading Man, and in Evita, as an autograph hunter:

The success of the Smash Hits campaign, and her branding as the face of 100% pure pop, lead to her signing a record deal, and in 1998, at 15 years old, she topped the UK singles chart with the beautifully bratty “Because We Want To.”

Here’s 1999′s “Honey To The Bee,” which may have taken direct inspiration from the great “Never Ever” by All Saints, but is no pale imitation. It might even be the better song:

And so, for a while, Billie’s acting career took a back seat, and she toured a good portion of the world as a proper pop star. By December 2000, there were signs that this life was coming to an end, and after a high profile court case against an obsessive fan, and the sudden rush into love with the Radio DJ Chris Evans, she bowed out of pop life, took some time off, and resolved to take acting lessons and get back to her first love.

The first notable proof that she was on the right track came in 2003, when she appeared in the BBC’s adaptation of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, as the sharp young wife of a cantankerous publican in The Miller’s Tale.

(There’s a far more involved clip here, but it’s been fiddled with, and ruins some of the key moments)

A year later, and she starred in the TV movie Bella and the Boys:

And the real movie The Calcium Kid, opposite Orlando Bloom:

Then there was Things To Do Before You’re 30, starring Dougray Scott (she was 23 at the time):

And, keeping with the update theme, Much Ado About Nothing, as a part of a 2005 season of updated Shakespeare plays. You can play ‘spot the British character actor’ in this clip:

In 2006, while filming Doctor Who, she also appeared as Sally Lockhart in the TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s The Ruby In The Smoke, opposite some up and coming beanpole actor or other:

Then in 2007 she appeared as Fanny Price in an adaptation of Mansfield Park:

And that’s the same year she started Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Here she is sharing an intimate liaison with that beanpole again, or as we all now know him, Matt Smith:

After Rose Tyler headed off into the Norwegian sunset with her human Doctor, Billie took part in the pan-generational epic A Passionate Woman, playing the younger version of Betty, played in her elder years by the great Sue Johnston:

And finally (for now), bringing things up to date and in full circle, this year she played a teacher in True Love:

Note: the girls in that classroom are probably the same age she was when she was throwing basketballs into tubas and being a pop star. What a life!

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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