She first made her name as a teen pop sensation with sugar-coated hits Because We Want To and Honey to the Bee, but Billie Piper’s microphone has been gathering dust for a good few years now. Instead, she’s done the near-impossible and made the transition to acting, carving out a career packed with eclectic roles, from an Austen heroine to a high-class escort to the beloved Rose Tyler, the Doctor’s most popular companion.
Let’s take a look back at her most memorable moments on our screens…
Doctor Who (2005-2006)
What a way to kick off a TV career. Piper was cast as Rose Tyler opposite Christopher Eccleston in the BBC’s revival of Doctor Who and outlasted his tenure, going on to form a much-loved partnership with David Tennant before breaking fans’ hearts in 2006 when she announced her departure. But her time in the Tardis wasn’t over just yet. Piper delighted Whovians by returning to the series in 2008, 2010 (to bid farewell to Tennant’s Doctor) and in last year’s 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor. She once said “it’s never really the end for the Doctor and Rose” and we wouldn’t rule out another return for her just yet…
The Ruby in the Smoke (2007)
Piper may have quit Doctor Who by the time she starred in the first of the BBC’s Sally Lockhart adaptations but she was never far away from her adventures in space and time, starring opposite future Doctor Matt Smith (who sports a half-baked cockney accent. Trust us, the clip below is worth a watch).
Mansfield Park (2007)
Billie stepped even further back in time to play Austen’s heroine Fanny Pryce in ITV’s adaptation of Mansfield Park. Starring opposite Blake Ritson as the dashing Edmund Bertrum, the one-off film also featured Alison Steadman, James D’Arcy, Hayley Atwell and Michelle Ryan.
Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2007-2011)
If we thought Piper was destined to become a mainstay of comfy family drama, we were wrong… In 2007 she shocked us all by taking the part of Hannah Baxter (better known as Belle du Jour) in ITV’s racy drama Secret Diary of a Call Girl. Playing a high-class escort saw Piper appear on screen in numerous compromising positions and, unsurprisingly, the show was a hit clocking up four series before coming to an end in 2011. And who should pop up again in series one but Doctor Who’s Matt Smith. Minus cockney accent, thank goodness…
A Passionate Woman (2010)
Next up for Piper was the role of Betty in A Passionate Woman, a part she shared with Sue Johnston. Set in the 1950s and the modern day, the two-part drama followed a bored housewife who embarks upon a steamy, “passionate” affair and co-starred Alun Armstrong and Theo James (years before he found Hollywood stardom in Divergent).
True Love (2012)
The improvised BBC drama marked a reunion with her Doctor Who co-star David Tennant. Well, sort of. The pair appeared in separate episodes of the 2012 five-parter, with Piper playing married but miserable school teacher Holly who embarks upon an affair with her pupil Karen (played by Skins actress Kaya Scodelario). Yet another steamy role for Doctor Who fans to balk at…
Penny Dreadful (2014)
Billie certainly found herself in illustrious company when she made her way back onto the small screen after a two-year absence, starring alongside Josh Hartnett, Eva Green and Timothy Dalton. The script for US horror series Penny Dreadful was penned by Gladiator screenwriter John Logan with Skyfall’s Sam Mendes executive producing. Oh, and Piper’s playing a prostitute. Again.
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