‘I was insanely jealous of Britney Spears’: Billie Piper on teen pop stardom, the fun of her drunk years – and making darkness funny

Portrait of Billie Piper in orange knit dress.

 Photograph: Jason Hetherington

From 90s singer to celebrated actor then film director – the I Hate Suzie star opens up about the highs and lows of growing up in public

“Hang on, I’ll just lock the door,” says Billie Piper. She is looking a bit goth, with black hair and black nails, though her neck is wrapped in a delicate scarf; she has not quite shaken the remnants of the definitely-not-Covid flu she’s had for the last few days. “I find it so weird doing interviews in front of people,” she says. “It’s so cringe. I guess if you can completely emotionally disconnect from people around you, then it’s fine, but I just find it very tricky. Anyway. So we’re in the bathroom. Hahaha.”

Piper is now 40, and has been in the public eye since she was 15. First, she was a pop star, and is still the youngest person to debut at No 1, with her 1998 earworm Because We Want To. Then, in 2003, she became an actor, winning plaudits in Doctor Who as the Doctor’s companion Rose Tyler. Throughout, she has been a fixture of the tabloids, her two marriages followed with gruesome interest, her ups and downs tracked through a paparazzo lens.

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