Rebecca Tyrrel: 'At least Billie Piper never threw a cat in a wheelie bin'


Who knew that, before she became a child pop sensation at 15, Billie Piper's guilty pleasure was throwing animals? For a while in the early 1990s, it was literally raining cats and dogs in Swindon. "I used to pick up animals on the street," she confessed in a questionnaire, "and launch them as far as I could."

Why did she do this? Perhaps she had a fixation with the javelin thrower, Fatima Whitbread, which has recently been sated by watching Whitbread on I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!. Alternatively, she may have been laying down a long distance marker for the day, many years in the future, when a British film studio might be looking for its Cruella De Vil (though there is no suggestion that she then skinned the unsuspecting household pets she was launching and wore them as boob tubes).

The likeliest explanation is that she did it, to paraphrase her number-one hit, because she wanted to. Children are cruel little beasts, cutting worms in half and pulling the legs of frogs – at least she never threw a cat in a wheelie bin and at least she has now confessed.

Her admission pleased the animal rights group Peta, which says it " very happy to hear that Ms Piper regrets the casual cruelty" (as if propelling a Yorkshire terrier over a sweet shop roof was some sort of absent-minded mistake). "That's the difference between a person with the real potential to be kind and someone who denies wrongdoing." Peta now intends to invite her to be a spokeswoman for a campaign to promote compassion.

In fact, she has already done this. As Christopher Eccleston's Tardismate, she showed extraordinary compassion to a wounded Dalek. In another episode of Doctor Who, her character, Rose, travelled back in time to save her father who died when she was a baby, from being fatally run over. If only life were like science fiction, the household pets of Nineties Wiltshire could be retroactively spared the trauma. Sadly it isn't, and what with being immovably trapped in this timeline, Ms Piper will probably pay for her honesty by spearheading worthy campaigns aimed at dissuading children from tormenting their four-legged friends. Serves her right.