Much Ado About Nothing
In autumn 2005, Billie starred in a modern-day adaptation of the Shakespeare classic Much Ado About
Nothing, written by David Nicholls and set in a regional TV station. She plays TV weather girl Hero, appearing alongside Cutting
It star, Sarah Parish and Damian Lewis.
The daughter of South West TV boss Leonard, beautiful young weathergirl Hero is a real romantic. So it's
no surprise when she falls for dashing sports reporter Claude. "The great thing about playing Hero was that she was new and
so she had to be quite green and a bit vague about what kind of weathergirl she was trying to be." said Billie Piper. "
Explaining how she joined the cast, Billie said, "At drama school we studied Shakespeare three days a week,
so when the script was floating around, I was quite keen to get a look at it.
"It's so good, and when I heard that Sarah and Damian were involved, I knew I'd be in good company."
But Shakespeare hasn't always been such an inviting prospect for Billie.
"I think Shakespeare dominated about four
years of my life and, at first, I used to find it so daunting. The thought of sitting down with Shakespearian text used to
scare me. But then I went to theatre school and it took on a whole new life. I became a huge fan."
Researching for the
role, Billie visited a real-life weathergirl.
"She showed me some footage of her when she first started and that was really
beneficial. There are certain ways to hold and present yourself and there's also a rhythm in the way news reporters speak
– you have to get hold of that intonation. And then I just watched daytime TV solidly for about a week!"
challenge, shared by both Billie and Hero, was wrapping their tongues around mind-boggling meteorological terms. "Altostratus
castellanus," took the prize for most difficult word to pronounce.
"Mid-take, you'd find your top lip curled and you'd
be sweating like a pig," Billie confides. "Those lines really did give you the fear.
"But I was working on Doctor Who at the same time, so I was getting used to saying words that I'd never used in my life,
and also words that weren't in the dictionary – just made-up, [writer] Russell T Davies words – so I started to
get better and better at pronouncing the difficult ones.
The best aspects of filming Much Ado included the script –
"genuinely funny, with laugh-out-loud jokes" – and the friendships which developed.
"It was an ensemble piece and
we all gelled and got on so well – that was one of the highlights," adds the vivacious actress.
Did You Know?
- This is the second time Billie has starred in a modern adaptation of a classic? The first being The Canterbury Tales!