Twelve years ago today, the BBC officially revealed that Billie Piper had been cast in the modern revival of Doctor Who, as The Ninth Doctor’s new companion – Rose Tyler.
At this point previously known as a former pop singer, Piper was described by BBC Wales Head of Drama Julie Gardner as a “unique” and “dynamic” actress who “fits the bill perfectly” alongside Christopher Eccleston’s regenerated Time Lord. Aged only 21, Billie was fresh from receiving critical acclaim from her one-off role in BBC Two’s Bella and the Boys, as well as starring opposite Orlando Bloom in film The Calcium Kid. Of her new role, Piper said she was “thrilled” to be a part of such an “iconic” television series.
It would not be until 2005 that Billie made her on-screen debut as Rose Tyler (in the first episode of the new series, named after her character) and it is safe to say that the young blonde from the Powell Estate more than made her mark on the programme. During her first series, she boarded the TARDIS and battled against Daleks, Slitheen, and the Autons, all before absorbing the time vortex to become the Bad Wolf entity – an event which led to the regeneration of the Ninth to the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tennant. Still the Time Lord’s companion, Piper’s character would become more romantically entangled with the intergalactic traveller in her second series, before being trapped in a parallel universe following a war between the Daleks and the Cybermen – to this day, the beach scene at the end of Doomsday remains one of the most famous in all of Doctor Who history.
Rose’s popularity led to Piper returning as part of the 2008 series’ story arc, helping The Doctor and his other companions to save the Earth from Davros and the Daleks, before once again being left in her parallel universe – this time, with a half-human Doctor in tow. While this is the last we have seen of Rose Tyler to date, it did not prevent Billie from returning one more time for the show’s 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor, in which she played a Bad Wolf representation of The Moment to aid in The War Doctor’s terrible dilemma.
Over a decade on from her initial reveal, Billie Piper stands tall as one of the fan favourite companions from any era of Doctor Who, modern or classic, and will go down in history as the actress who helped to propel the show back to stardom.