Born in 1982 in Swindon, Wiltshire, England, Billie Piper first came to prominence as a pop singer. After getting a record deal at age 15, she became the youngest recording artist ever to debut at number one on the UK singles chart, with her song "Because We Want To." After her music career fizzled, she transitioned to acting, her first love. Although she worked on the stage and in films, Piper is best known for her television work, including the role as Rose Tyler, a travelling companion to the Doctor, on the hugely successful U.K. science-fiction program, Doctor Who.
Born Lianne Paul Piper in the Swindon area of Wiltshire, in South West England, singer/actress Billie Piper was a happy child who loved singing songs around the house with her younger brother, Charley, and her younger sisters, Harley and Elle. A year after her birth, her parents, Paul Victor Piper and Mandy Kane Kent, legally changed their daughter's name to Billie Paul Piper.
Piper studied at London's prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School. Discovered as a poster girl for the U.K. pop music magazine Smash Hits, she was offered a record deal as a teenager. When she released her first single, "Because We Want To," at age 15, Piper made history: The song debuted at No. 1 on the U.K. singles chart, making Piper the youngest recording artist to score that distinction. When her second single, "Girlfriend," went to No. 1, she was branded as England's new "pop princess."
Although her debut album, Honey to the B, sold more than 3 million copies in the United Kingdom, she had trouble sustaining a strong career in other areas around the world. She released other successful singles, but her music career eventually burned out.
After time away from the music business, Piper decided to pursue her first love, acting, and took classes in London. When the popular science-fiction television program Doctor Who was relaunched in 2005 by the BBC, Piper was chosen to play Rose Tyler, traveling companion to the Doctor. The success of the new iteration of the series catapulted Piper to renewed popularity; she won the Most Popular Actress Award two years running at the U.K.'s National Television Awards. She was also awarded the Breakthrough Award by The Times of London for her transition from singing to acting.
Piper was also critically praised for her role as Hannah Baxter on the ITV2 program Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which followed the life of a high-class "lady of the evening." Other notable work includes BBC costume dramas like "Much Ado About Nothing" and "The Canterbury Tales," and film roles in Things to do Before You're Thirty and The Calcium Kid, with Orlando Bloom.
Piper married DJ and television host Chris Evans in 2001 without the knowledge of her family and friends. They had dated for six months beforehand, but their 16-year age difference ultimately doomed the marriage. They divorced in 2007, but remain friends.
Later that year, Piper married actor Laurence Fox. They two sons together: James, born in 2008, and Eugene Pip, born in 2012.
Piper's 2006 memoir, Growing Pains, reveals her struggles related to dealing with fame and money at an early age. "The more successful you become, the easier it is to give way to bad behavior; you become selfish and self-oriented and lose all sense of perspective," she wrote. "It drives away everyone who really loves you."
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