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My brilliant Billie is a great star reborn

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2004-05-30 Sunday Express.jpg


Dr Who girl is new Kidman, says teacher

THE roller-coaster career of Billie Piper is on the up again, with a starring role in Dr Who.

And one person who is not surprised by her meteoric rise from teen singer to leading actress, is her drama teacher, Sylvia Young.

She remembers that as she signed dozens of school reports, there was one name she was convinced had stardom written all over it.

"Sitting here looking through her file, every report from every teacher said she was brilliant," said Sylvia.

"In one, when she was in Year Eight and just 13 years old, a drama coach described her as 'very talented, indeed potentially brilliant'.

"He went on to say that she had an incredible comedic talent, too. This is one of the hardest kinds of acting, and Billie excelled."

Doyen of the starmakers, Sylvia, went even further, dubbing her former pupil Britain's answer to Nicole Kidman.

Now, she says, the BBC's decision to give Billie, 21, a role as Dr Who's new companion is simply destiny. Sylvia said: "She was without doubt of National Theatre quality. From the second she stepped into our school for her first audition, I knew there was something special about her.

"There wasn't an area she was weak in, she just did very well all round. Teachers always noted her application, her talent and her wide repertoire.

"We always knew that her real talent lay in acting. She only got into the singing side by mistake."

When she was 15, Billie signed a record contract and her debut single, Because We Want To, went straight to Nol in 1998.

This highly successful diversion from her planned acting career surprised many of her drama student contemporaries, who included tragic Holby City actress Laura Sadler, S Club singer John Lee and former Boyzone star Stephen Gately.

Those close to Billie say she never intended to remain a singer for long, and in the end was relieved to use her marriage to media mogul Chris Evans as an excuse to bow out of the charts.

Eighteen months of drunken revelling followed as the newlyweds travelled around the world, with Billie claiming she needed "time out".

But just as critics had written her off as a pop has-been, the new Mrs Evans voiced her determination to get back into acting.

A healthy eating regime ensured that she was a stone lighter when the BBC cast her in an updated version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales last year.

Bella And The Boys followed last February, a role which required her to be a child and an adult. Once more critics, who had expected her to fall flat on her face, were amazed at her performance. Refreshingly, Billie displayed a childlike joy when she bagged the part of Rose Tyler, the Doctor's new companion last week.

"Dr Who is an iconic show and I am thrilled to be taking part," she said.

Friends and family in Billie's home town of Swindon are equally delighted at her success.

Drama teacher Julia Dickinson, who coached Billie from the age of eight, said: "It is lovely to see Billie acting again.

"Although she has been very successful as a pop star, I always thought that acting was her first love. Billie came to me when she was very young and it was clear that she had something different."

When she was 12, it was Julia who encouraged her protegee to audition for the Sylvia Young School in London.

"It is a difficult thing to move out of home and live in London and not everyone is suited to the demands of drama school.

"But Billie showed a lot of commitment and maturity at a young age and was obviously going to go far," said Julia. Billie's grandmother Margaret, who still lives in Swindon, said she was "pleased to bits" about Dr Who. She added: "What more can I say? I'm just thrilled for her."

Before Billie moves into a rented flat in Cardiff where the filming of Dr Who will take place, she must complete a horror movie in Romania.

Spirit Trap is nearing the end of its production in Bucharest, and tells the story of a group of students who are haunted by an evil legacy.

By the end of June it will be completed, leaving time for Billie to fly back home before moving to Wales.

The one downside of this career opportunity is it will most likely mean yet more separation from her husband Chris Evans.

Industry insiders hint that a move to Hollywood is next on the cards for Billie, but those close to the one-time singer say it will take a spectacular offer to make her contemplate a move across the pond.

Her latest film, Things To Do Before You Die, starring Jim Mistry, Emilia Fox and Dougray Scott, premiered to rave reviews at Cannes.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Douglas, Hilary (2004-05-30). My brilliant Billie is a great star reborn. Sunday Express p. 16.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Douglas, Hilary. "My brilliant Billie is a great star reborn." Sunday Express [add city] 2004-05-30, 16. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Douglas, Hilary. "My brilliant Billie is a great star reborn." Sunday Express, edition, sec., 2004-05-30
  • Turabian: Douglas, Hilary. "My brilliant Billie is a great star reborn." Sunday Express, 2004-05-30, section, 16 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=My brilliant Billie is a great star reborn | url= | work=Sunday Express | pages=16 | date=2004-05-30 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=20 June 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=My brilliant Billie is a great star reborn | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=20 June 2024}}</ref>