From Who? to Dr Who: Billy Piper to share her story

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Billie Piper, the former pop singer who stars as Doctor Who's assistant in the BBC show, has signed a six-figure contract to write her autobiography at the age of 23.

Piper is the latest in a line of young celebrities to embark on the self-promotional literary trail. Once regarded as Britain's answer to Britney Spears, she has promised to reveal all about her journey from Swindon to infinity and beyond.

"It may sound ridiculous being just 23 but I've a few good stories I'd like to share," said Piper, who promises to lift the lid on her early years, marriage to the broadcaster Chris Evans and the transformation from pop teen to award-winning actress. "I'm hoping the book will be honest, funny, insightful and, above all, life-affirming.

"This is a chance for me to talk openly about other areas of my life.Things that people won't know. Things that I'm hoping lots of people can relate to and maybe even be inspired by."

Piper was born Leanne Paul Piper in 1982 in Swindon. Her parents Paul and Mandy Piper changed her given name from Leanne three weeks after registering her birth. Brought up in the Nine Elms area of the town with her younger brother, Charlie, and two younger sisters, Harley and Ellie, Piper had her first taste of fame while at school.

As a pupil of Brookfield Primary in Swindon, followed by Bradon Forest Secondary in Purton, and a supporter of Swindon Town football club, her life was pretty uneventful until the age of 15. It was then that she was selected for a television commercial promoting the pop magazine Smash Hits in which her role was to run up to the camera, blow a bubble and shout "Pop!"

Soon afterwards, she was signed by record bosses and her debut single, "Because We Want To", topped the chart in 1998, making her the youngest artist to debut at No 1 in the UK chart.

The follow-up "Girlfriend" also went in at No 1 while her first album, Honey to the B entered the charts at No 14. Two further singles off the album, "She Wants You" and "Honey to the Bee" both reached No 3.

In 1999, she was nominated for two Brit Awards and was named best female star at the Smash Hits Poll Winners' party.

However it was her appearance in 2000 on Chris Evans's show TFI Friday that led to the biggest headlines becasue the couple began dating and, despite a 16-year age gap, married in Las Vegas in 2001 when Piper was just 18.

The couple split up three years later, generating another round of celebrity gossip headlines for the newspapers and magazines that have reported almost every turn of her life, her insecurities, her career and even a brush with a stalker.

In 2003, coinciding with the end of her marriage, Piper decided to reinvent herself and dropped the pop career to return to her original ambition of acting.

A series of critically acclaimed roles in a number of television plays and a couple of films led to her being cast as Rose Tyler in the new revamped series of Doctor Who.

Last year, she was named most popular actress at the National Television Awards.

Nick Davies, editorial director of Hodder & Stoughton, said: "Billie has done more in her 23 years than most of us will do in a lifetime and she is ready to talk about it with honesty and humour. I have no doubt that we have a bestseller on our hands." The book is expected to be published in the autumn.

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