Here’s a collection of half a dozen screen caps featuring Billie Piper as Sally Lockhart in Philip Pullman’s “The Ruby in the Smoke” which premiered on 27th December on BBC1. It passed without illustration in a previous post so am rectifying that oversight with this small group of stills. Billie looked good in period corsets though I don’t think she was as emotionally stretched as in “Doctor Who”, which is perhaps surprising. There were odd glimpses, too, of a very contemporary smile though it didn’t intrude on her performance. I’m looking forward to seeing her soon as Fanny Price in ITV1’s new adaptation of Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park”, which also features Douglas Hodge and Maggie O’Neill. I remember Sylvestra Le Touzel in the role, whose first acting job, coincidentally, was in the Patrick Troughton “Doctor Who” story “The Mind Robber”, in the BBC’s version broadcast in 1983. I’m also looking forward to seeing more of Sally Lockhart in “The Shadow in the North”, already in the can for transmission later next year.
As well as her television work, Billie is about to take to the stage, touring the UK with Christopher Hampton’s play “Treats” prior to making her West End debut at the Garrick Theatre towards the end of February. Set in London in 1974, “Treats” examines a love triangle between Ann (Piper), a young professional at a struggling newspaper, her new lover Patrick, who is a colleague from work, and her ex-boyfriend Dave. The play was originally produced at the Royal Court, where it starred Jane Asher, Stephen Moore and James Bolam. On this occasion, the men in Ann’s life are played by Kris Marshall, best known for “My Family” but recently seen on BBC3 as Sarah Smart’s husband in “Funland”, and Laurence Fox, third son of actor James Fox and Kevin Whately’s sidekick DS James Hathaway in the upcoming “Inspector Morse” spin-off series “Lewis”, following a successful pilot. Almost a month before opening in London, there will be an opportunity to see “Treats”, reasonably locally at the Malvern Theatres, during the week beginning Monday 29th January.