Playing Brona in Penny Dreadful brought a few challenges for softly spoken, plummy-toned Billie – not least learning the much harsher Northern Irish accent. Shooting the show in Dublin didn’t help, as she found the variations confusing at times. Billie said: “I had a hardcore dialect coach. It’s Northern Irish but it was hard being in Dublin with loads of Dubliners on the set.

“It’s really unhelpful because lots of us are doing different accents, so she was a permanent fixture. Sometimes, I’d practise round the house and we’d listen to a lot of it in my car. My kids would find it really funny. We’d all do it together in my car to a CD and, yes, they loved it.”

In fact, Billie got so good at the harsh Northern Irish accent, she had to tone it down for fear viewers wouldn’t understand her. “Because it’s a very strong accent, as you know, and a hard accent as in how it sounds, it’s sometimes hard to understand. I think we had to be very mindful of it being too Belfast. It was that battle of making everything you say heard but also being true to the accent. Everyone can judge it, now they can see it. God!”

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The Doctor Who star played high-class hooker Belle de Jour in the hit show, and she is set to strip off on screen again in her new series, Penny Dreadful, co-starring Josh Hartnett.

However, despite accepting a string of sexy roles, Piper is adamant she would prefer to stay fully clothed on set.

She tells The Sun newspaper, “I’d rather not do sex scenes but I’m always interested in characters with wild spirits so I think sex scenes are inevitable.”

Piper also reveals she was the envy of all her female pals after signing up to star alongside Pear Harbour hunk Hartnett, adding, “Do I fancy Josh? I did when I was younger… He’s totally gorgeous – I had a lot of jealous girlfriends.”

Penny Dreadful, which also stars Timothy Dalton and Eva Green, is a horror series produced by Sam Mendes and inspired by lurid 19th century weekly publications.


Speaking at last night’s UK premiere of Penny Dreadful, Piper said the things she faces in the new Sky drama are much scarier than Doctor Who’s tank-like villains.

“As much as [Penny Dreadful] has all these supernatural elements [like Doctor Who] I think it’s largely about mortality,” said Piper, adding: “It’s about lots of people existing on the outskirts of society and becoming one and living with demons and darkness – and I think all of that is pretty scary. Far scarier than a Dalek!”


Billie Piper is talking about “special effects” and “action sequences” with all the enthusiasm you would expect from someone who has signed up to make a multimillion-pound TV series airing on both sides of the Atlantic. She can riff on the show’s main themes and the script – and we are just getting on to the point about the “dexterous text” when she says: “I’m sure this is all really boring. I play a prostitute. I’m just in it for the sex!”
Piper has an excellent sense of humour: a mischievous giggle, a willingness to sacrifice her point for the sake of a good joke. It’s why she’s so brilliant on chat shows – the last time I saw her, on Alan Carr’s Chatty Man, she imitated a dance move popularised in the Channel 4 series My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding for laughs. She also told of how she had recently found a “filthy nightclub” on a night off from looking after her sons, making me wonder if Billie Piper is still quite the wild child.

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