A piece in today’s (Tuesday’s) Times:
Billie Piper has criticised the excessively palatable presentation of women on television and says that dramas should show their “monstrous and hysterical” sides as well.
The actress said that she found it “incredibly frustrating” when female characters were portrayed as saintly and two dimensional.
Piper, 37, a former pop star, is playing a fictionalised version of herself in I Hate Suzie, which starts on August 27 on Sky. The plot revolves around the leak of explicit photographs from her character’s phone; they show her with a man who is not her husband.
Piper told Radio Times that Suzie is “not always likeable or a great mother. She’s quite often monstrous and hysterical and tightly wound. But that’s in all of us. I find it incredibly frustrating when I watch anything and I’m not getting that from a female character.
“Because I’ve got kids, if I’m going into work, it has to be something I feel really bowled over by. Something I was really interested in was trying to honestly portray a woman. That’s hard and takes balls. You have to find a broadcaster who doesn’t want to make the female experience more palatable.”
In 1998 Piper, who then performed simply as Billie, had a No 1 single with Because We Want To. She was 15 and the youngest artist to debut at the top of the UK charts. In the early 2000s she abandoned music to focus on acting, securing roles in Doctor Who and Secret Diary of a Call Girl, in which she played the high-class escort Belle de Jour. In 2017 she won the Olivier award for best actress for her performance in a modern retelling of Federico García Lorca’s Yerma, about a woman’s struggle with childlessness, at the Young Vic.
Her first marriage to the DJ Chris Evans ended in 2007. She had two children with the actor Laurence Fox before their divorce in 2016. Last year she had a daughter with the singer Johnny Lloyd.
Piper said that she drew on her own knowledge of the trauma caused by sudden fame for I Hate Suzie. “I know exactly what that feels like and I’m sure it feeds into my performance. I’m only coming to terms with a lot of it right now,” she said.
“In my twenties a lot of my stress from that period was buried, and I still struggle to remember a lot of it. I don’t regret it. I love what I do and where I’m at personally. But I certainly wouldn’t want my children to go that way. There’s an anxiety of me as a child that I probably on some levels smother my children with.”
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