While I can’t remember the exact moment Billie Piper came into my life, I do remember how her time as Rose Tyler on Doctor Who impacted my childhood. I was obsessed with Rose, I thought she was perhaps the coolest person I’d ever seen. Rose wore purple T-shirts, had luscious blonde hair that was always the perfect mix of messy and sleek, was a free spirit, and had a habit of being particularly gobby at times. It was something I related to as a child, and can still relate to now as an adult.
The thing is, I’ve always felt as though Piper has in some way or another had to live in the shadow of men. Whether that be men she’s been romantically involved with or men she’s simply interacted with professionally. And I’ve bloody had enough, so, I’m here to try and convince the entirety of the internet to appreciate Piper for the woman she is.
As far as I’m concerned, It’s Piper’s world and we’re just living in it. She released her debut single at 15 years old and iconically titled it ‘Because We Want To’. From there, the multi-talented superstar went on to release two albums—the first of which was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI)—until she decided to drop her singing career to focus on acting instead.
From Doctor Who to Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Piper has more than proven her acting abilities. Moreover, she’s now become a certified theatre darling, winning the 2017 Laurence Olivier Award for best actress in a leading role in a play.
So, why is it that the only time I see Piper’s name trending on X or TikTok, it’s somehow in relation to a man? This is a serious problem that needs addressing. There are three men I’m going to speak about in this article and I want to make it plainly clear that one of them is by far miles worse than the other two (Laurence Fox, I’m looking at you), nevertheless, they’re all relevant to the conversation.
Now, I thought I’d ease us in and start this journey with a man who most of us actually really love: David Tennant. Piper and Tennant had incredible on-screen chemistry as The Doctor and Rose and for the most part, a lot of us dreamt of the day that the two would fall in love in real life. Sadly, this never happened.
Moreover, I think I can speak for most of the UK when I say that the episode where we saw The Doctor and Rose say goodbye to one another on the beach was potentially one of the most traumatising scenes in British television history. I’m practically welling up thinking about it now.
While I don’t blame Tennant whatsoever for eclipsing Piper’s success, it does often feel as though her own breakthrough role and entire acting career are always tied to him in some way that minimises the work Piper has put in. Moreover, the intense shipping narrative attached to Piper and Tennant—aka netizens remaining convinced that these should couple up in real life—further trivialises her work.
Next up is Chris Evans. And no, before you start thinking ‘How does Billie Piper have a connection to US doofus/Captain America?’, it’s a different Chris I’m talking about here.
Evans, a British radio DJ and TV presenter, and Piper got married when she was only 18 and he was 35. The relationship lasted for about three years and, due to the sizeable age gap, received massive media attention.
While this relationship ended amicably, over the years it’s been made quite clear that the public is still much more interested in Piper’s romantic life than any of her other accolades:
And while I’m not trying to claim that the concept of women being judged for the men they choose to marry is particularly new or fresh, Piper does seem to bear the brunt of this curse ever so often.
Last but not least, we have Laurence Fox, or as I like to call him ‘the biggest mistake Billie Piper ever made’. The pair were married for around nine years, having tied the knot in 2007 and then ultimately getting a divorce in 2016.
We all know that when you have a public relationship, people tend not to let things go very easily and the mere existence of that partnership will often rear its ugly head online now and again. That being said, it’s quite astonishing how whenever Fox is in the news—which is practically every other day—Piper’s name is dragged into things.
For context, Fox is an incredibly divisive individual whose brand of political activism is reflective of the worst aspects of far-right extremism in the UK right now. Fox has been publicly condemned by a number of organisations for forms of hate speech, suspended from GB News, and, quite hilariously, went through a ridiculous campaign to become Mayor of London. He walked away with 1.9 per cent of the vote. Sad times.
Most recently, Fox lost a defamation lawsuit against RuPaul’s Drag Race UK contestant Colin Seymour, who goes by Crystal, and Simon Blake, deputy chair of the LGBTQIA+ rights charity Stonewall. The lawsuit began after a decision by Sainsbury’s to provide a safe space for Black employees during Black History Month, resulting in Fox calling for a boycott of the supermarket. Shortly after this, Crystal and Blake accused Fox of being racist to which he then called the pair “paedophiles.”
Appearing on a Sky News broadcast on Tuesday 30 January, Seymour called the ruling a “victory on all counts.” Seymour added that after more than three years of ongoing legal disputes over the matter, “it’s incredibly liberating and satisfying.”
The thing is, when this news was released, it wasn’t Fox’s name that was trending on X, it was Piper’s:
Again, this pattern might not seem like the biggest imposition or disrespect, but it’s representative of a really frustrating constant in society: that women have and will always continue to be marked and measured against the men they interact with. It’s getting boring, and it needs to change.