Currently starring in Dr Who, Billie is set to play the title role in a BBC adaptation of the Sally Lockhart mysteries
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10 JANUARY 2006

Dr Who actress Billie Piper's star is certainly on the rise – she's just landed her first lead role, playing the title character in an upcoming adaptation of Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries.

The 23-year-old blonde, who launched her career as a teen pop singer, is said to be earning a £250,000 paycheck to play the heroine in The Ruby In The Smoke, the first novel in the acclaimed four-book series, to air on BBC1.

Dubbed an "extremely versatile actress", by the BBC head of drama serials, Billie recently played a role in a modern-day version of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing and received the most popular actress honour at the National Television Awards.

Meanwhile, Billie and her estranged husband, media mogul and presenter Chris Evans, remain close friends. His soon-to-be ex-wife continues to live "next door but one" to the 39-year-old radio star. "It's a very strange situation, which I don't expect you to understand because I don't understand it either," he said in an interview. "We do get on extraordinarily well and we love each other."

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