Paying the Piper
Billie Piper’s latest role has her shedding both inhibitions and clothes
BILLIE Piper knew playing a high class hooker would shock viewers. But the only reaction she worried about was her father’s. Before the new Channel 9 series, aired in the UK, Piper had a heart-to-heart talk with her father. ‘‘I spoke to my father because he’s a builder and he’s often in builders’ pubs,’’ Piper says. ‘‘I thought I should warn him it may be tough for a while.’’ The series has her in a menage a trois. She also appears nude. The eight-part series is based on the sizzling book Diary of a Call Girl, Secret Belle De Jour: The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl. Far from portraying the seedy side of prostitution, it tells the story of a woman who is happy with her profession. Which has caused more than a few problems for fathers other than Piper’s. So often film and television gives a skewed perspective of real life. Thanks to the movie many born in the late ’70s or early ’80s dreamed about a career as a fighter pilot. Secret Diary of a Call Girl is having a similar effect. After the series aired, Glasgow escort agencies reported the number of women signing up went from two or three a week to that many a day. The drama series led many women to believe the work was all about champagne, glamour and big money. ‘‘They think it’s one big party— that they’ll make thousands of pounds a week and be flown to Paris at weekends,’’ a source says.
THE series also stars Cherie Lunghi as Belle’s pimp and 1980s pop star Toyah Wilcox as her mother. ‘‘I did a lot of research for the role,’’ Piper reveals. ‘‘I met callgirls and the real Belle. She’s very interesting.’’ Piper admits she’s prudish, but that didn’t stop her giving the part her all. To prepare for the show she worked hard to get in shape. ‘‘I was just very aware of the fact that I was going to be naked a lot of the time and I didn’t want to have to think about that as well as the fact I was doing endless sex scenes. So I did quite a bit of running,’’ Piper says. ‘‘The sex scenes were tough, but you go into a trance-like state.’’ However, the actor soon got used stripping on set. ‘‘It became normal,’’ she says. ‘‘I would sit in my underwear and chat to people.’’ Apart from glamourising what in truth is a very unglamorous industry, Piper was worried her topless scenes may have blown her chances of making it big in Hollywood. When the series aired in the US it pulled record viewing figures. Piper, 25, feared she went too far for some Americans. ‘‘Someone said the other day, rather viciously, ‘What A-list stars get their t--s out?’ ‘‘And then I started thinking, ‘Oh, my God, what have I done? I’ve ruined my future career’. ‘‘You know, you get photographed on the beach topless. After all, they’re only breasts.’’ Piper seems to have packed a lifetime into her years — from a teen pop star, a six-year marriage to businessman and DJ Chris Evans, a starring role on a second marriage, and now the starring role in Doctor Who, Diary of a Call Girl. Top Gun, to Secret