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Billie The Kid


By Steve RENDLE.17 June 1999

(c) 1999 The Evening Post, INL.

Don't worry about 16-year-old star Billie Piper. As Steve Rendle found out, she's calling the tune.

THE city fathers in Swindon, west of London, must love 16-year-old poplet Billie. Before she swaggered to the top of the charts, the biggest stars to come out of the place were page three girl Melinda Messenger, and "saucy" film star Diana Dors.

Piper is already a genuine phenomenon in Britain, and her Honey To The B album has sold by the truckloads in New Zealand, on the back of teen pop gems like Because We Want To and, of course, Honey To The Bee.

Nearly 3000 people turned up to see Billie play a free show in Auckland during a promotional visit this month.

Despite the image, there was time enough for a three-in-a-bed romp.

Shock! Horror! No way!

"Because of the time difference we've been up really early, so me and my dancers were all in bed together this morning watching horror films," she laughs down the phone.

Bang goes that scandal, and probably hopes of any other.

Billie sounds far too clued up allow her career to run aground in such a fashion. Suggest she's very controlled and you get an apology. Despite her age she knows this business well.

"I've always wanted this since I was about six. I used to admire, and I was just so influenced by other solo female artists like Madonna and Kylie Minogue and Janet Jackson. I just knew that that was my skill, that was my craft, y'know?

"I think it's every little girl's dream to be famous but I when I reached about 12, I really needed to do something to forward my career."

Can she be serious? What about ponies?

But it was theatre school which beckoned, the same one attended by Baby Spice.

The training came in handy when she was chosen to front a campaign for teen mag Smash Hits, and the rest is only the beginning.

"Everybody probably thinks I'm manufactured and that it's all happened overnight for me, but it really hasn't. I'm so ambitious, I want so much out of life.

"I want to be an actress. I want to do modelling campaigns.

"Within five years I would love to be a huge international star for all different reasons."

Billie is travelling with her father, but you have to worry about a 16-year-old thrown into the weasly world of rock'n'roll.

Actually, you probably don't.

"You can't trust anyone, that's one thing to know. The only people I trust are my parents."

That is perhaps a sad level of paranoia for a 16-year-old. Not even boyfriend Rich, of boy band Five, is included in the trusted few, though he obviously has a place in her life.

"He's absolutely lovely. It's just nice to have somebody else in this business that you can talk to about the job and everything, apart from the friendship and everything."

Despite the rush into adulthood, Billie won't have a bar of the old question about lost youth, and disappeared childhood.

"Apart from really not being into ponies ... I love what I'm doing. This is enough for me at the moment, but I know I really want more."

(c) The Dominion, INL 1999.