Originally posted 23-24 May; updated 25-26 May with new press info & additional links
Actress Billie Piper will be playing Rose Tyler, the new Doctor Who companion in the forthcoming Doctor Who TV series. Below (end of this news post) is the official press release from BBC Television.
Piper was originally rumored as a possible companion as early as last September, after the announcement of the new series, in press put together by her agent. Piper has been speculated as a front-runner, especially earlier in the lead-up, but her name was recently away from the spotlight in deference to others thought to be finalists for the role, including Keeley Hawes, Anna Friel and Carla Henry. Indeed, in March, Piper's agent told the Radio Times: "It may be that the idea has been mooted, but it's not a conversation I have had." Radio Times went on to quote a "BBC spokeswoman" who said "an announcement wasn't expected for another two months".
Page 3 of the May 24 edition of the Daily Mail was one of the first sources (and actually the first online source) that stated Piper was in the role today; in an article 'Evans Moves a Few Rungs Down the Property Ladder' about Piper's husband Chris Evans, it also mentioned the following: "As well as winning the part of Dr Who's assistant in the new BBC series, the former pop singer has gained her first starring role in a movie." Today's Media Guardian also mentioned that "BBC drama bosses still want Mrs. Chris Evans, aka Billie Piper."
The May 25 edition of "The Independent" featured the following comment: "Billie Piper will play Doctor Who's assistant in the new BBC series. The 21-year-old said she was 'thrilled' to have landed the role of Rose Taylor [sic]" alongside Eccleston's Doctor.
The Cuttings Archive was updated late May 25 with press clippings from the various UK papers. Says Roger Anderson of the Archive, "The most notable coverage is in the Daily Express which not only has a large colour photo of Billie and a teaser headline on the front page also includes and excellent full page article on page 7." There is also a string of photos of previous Doctor Who companions.
The Daily Record (Scotland) includes a short piece in the "off the record" column which comments "SO Billie Piper is to be Dr Who's new assistant. Pretty young girl hooks up with old weirdo who wonders what planet he's on - inspired stuff. But hasn't she done that already?" Meanwhile, Metro, the free newspaper on British trains, mentioned the news on the cover on May 25, with a boxout in the top right corner that included a picture of Billie and the teaser tagline "Dr Who's new buddy ... all the way from planet pop page 3". The full story on page 3 covers most of the page and includes a rundown of "five of the Doctor's assistants", categorising them as follows: Sexiest - Jo Grant (Katy Manning); Brainiest - Barbara Wright (Jacqueline Hill); Most Loyal - Leela (Louise Jameson); Poshest - Victoria Waterfield (Deborah Watling); Coolest - Polly (Anneke Wills).
May 26th's Daily Express featured a long article entitled "Billie: Just What the Doctor Ordered," a long biographical article in the context of her being the new Doctor Who girl. "Whether they're escaping from Daleks, combating Sea Devils or helping to save Earth from an intergalactic war, the life of a Doctor Who companion has always been fraught with danger and full of adventure," writes Shaun Lyon Dunk. "It's safe to say ... that none has been quite as young or as nubile as Billie Piper." The article quotes Piper herself as saying, "Doctor Who is an iconic show and I am absolutely thrilled to be playing the part of Rose Tyler." The article then goes into her life, career and her marriage to Chris Evans, before getting reactions from two former Doctor Who companions, Nicola Bryant (Peri) and Louise Jameson. "It sounds like a cliche," Bryant says, "but when you join Doctor Who you are entering an extended family and every year I still attend conventions around the world and get incredible fan mail. I'm still in touch with the old Doctors and some of the assistants are among my closest friends. I imagine Billie won't have to put up with the outrageous costumes I wore. My first scene had me in a bikini and I seemed to wear revealing clothing for the rest of the series. Their budget will be bigger, too. We had to work very hard because whenever we blew anything up, we were only allowed one take. As an actress, nothing really compares with Doctor Who because its appeal is so overwhelming." Jameson told the Express, "I wanted Leela to be strong and tough, not some screaming girl who couldn't take the action. But I also had to wear a tight leather costume. I was disappointed my character exited the show by getting married - I'd have preferred to have died trying to rescue the Doctor. What's really incredible about Doctor Who is how loyal fans are. When there have been gaps in my work over the years I've always managed to get work that is a spin-off from those few months of doing Doctor Who. I still try to attend conventions and meet the fans of the show whenever I can. Billie should be aware of the huge interest. It can take you by surprise. But she's probably used to coping with the media by now." The article will be on the Cuttings Archive later today.
An article from Billie Piper's local paper from March 1995 which shows that she actually had a lot of acting experience prior to her brief period as a pop star, including winning a scholarship to one of London's leading stage schools, is available at This is Wiltshire. (Thanks to Mike Simpson)
Meanwhile, Russell T Davies spoke to the BBC Doctor Who site about the casting of Billie Piper as Rose. "It was a long, thorough search to find Billie - despite the fact that the tabloids have been touting her name for months now!" Davies said. "We auditioned all sorts of actors - some famous, some unknown - but we've now met with Billie three times, and she's absolutely perfect, and very close to the description of Rose on the page - I think Billie's 21, and Rose is 19, so that's a great fit! ... Over the course of 13 episodes, Rose will change and grow, and hopefully, we can keep that story going in the years to come."
To read more of Davies' comments, as well as a gallery of Piper's previous roles and some video clips, visit the official site.
Additional Press Coverage & Links from May 24 & 25:
There were also stories in MX Australia, Australian Associated Press Bulletins, the Daily Star, the Birmingham Post ("He's got two hearts, Doctor Who, and they can both be broken," Eccleston says about the Tyler character, obviously from an earlier interview), the Press Association (in which Piper's role is one of four quiz questions from yesterday: "who's playing the new Doctor Who girl?"), the Independent, the Western Daily Press, Bristol Evening Post, Yorkshire Evening Post, the Irish Independent, the Western Mail ("What's Up Doc?"), ABC Radio (Australia), the Melbourne Herald-Sun, the Newcastle Herald (Australia), the Adelaide Advertiser, the South Wales Echo, and the aforementioned Express ("Dr. Who and the Teenage Pop Star"). The ABC New South Wales article adds a curious (and laughable) comment: "The new BBC series of Doctor Who has been a bit slow in terms of getting organised but it will be on the small screen in 2005." (With thanks to Steve Tribe, Paul Engelberg, Paul Hayes, Tim Collins, Stephen Durrant, Robert Byrne, Chuck Foster, Andrew Harvey, Andrew Pierce, Roger Anderson, Mike Simpson and everyone else who's sent us info & links)
Billie Piper is confirmed to play Rose Tyler, companion to Doctor Who, it was announced today by Julie Gardner, Head of Drama, BBC Wales.
The former singer who made her acting debut last year in the critically-acclaimed BBC ONE drama serial Canterbury Tales: The Miller's Tale, will star alongside Christopher Eccleston in the forthcoming 13-part drama series which returns to BBC ONE early next year.
Julie Gardner says: "Billie is beautiful, funny and intelligent. We needed to find a unique, dynamic partner for Christopher Eccleston, and Billie fits the bill perfectly.
"She will make an extraordinary Rose Tyler. Doctor Who has his new assistant!"
Piper, who also received critical-acclaim for her role in Bella and the Boys, a one-off drama for BBC TWO, is currently starring opposite Hollywood actor Orlando Bloom in The Calcium Kid.
"Doctor Who is an iconic show and I am absolutely thrilled to be playing the part of Rose Tyler," says Billie Piper.
"I am also looking forward to working with Christopher Eccleston and writer Russell T Davies."
Executive producer/writer, Russell T Davies, adds: "The Doctor's companion is one of the most important and cherished roles in the history of TV drama.
"I'm delighted that someone of Billie's talent is coming on board the Tardis, to travel through time and space."
Filming in Cardiff later this year for transmission on BBC ONE, Doctor Who is written by Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss, Paul Cornell and Robert Shearman.
The producer is Phil Collinson and executive producers are BBC Controller of Continuing Drama Series, Mal Young; Head of Drama, BBC Wales, Julie Gardner and Russell T Davies.
For further information about Billie Piper, Doctor Who and past companions, visit bbc.co.uk/doctorwho.