Billie Piper says childhood friend Amy Winehouse was bullied at school “because she was always doing her own thing”

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Billie Piper has reflected on her childhood friendship with Amy Winehouse, recalling how the singer was bullied because “she was always doing her own thing”.

Piper and Winehouse both attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School in London in the 1990s, and became friends during their time there. Now, in an interview on Jessie Ware’s Table Manners podcast, the former pop star and Doctor Who actor has shared memories of what Winehouse was like during that period.

“She was always cheeky,” Piper said. “She was always like that, you know. She would do abstract stuff, and I really loved it.”

“She could do everything. Super clever, super bright, unlike any other girl at that school.”

She went on to reflect on some of the difficulties Winehouse faced at the school: “She got bullied quite a lot at school because she was doing her own thing, and she liked to push buttons, and do weird stuff.”

“And I had a lot of space for that, but not many of the girls did. It wasn’t the easiest ride.”

Singer Amy Winehouse performs onstage at Lollapalooza in Grant Park on August 5, 2007 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Roger Kisby/Getty Images)

Winehouse is about to be the subject of the biopic Back To Black, directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson. The film stars Marisa Abela (Industry) as the late singer and charts her vibrant years living in London, as well as her intense rise to fame. It is due to be released in the UK and Ireland on April 12, 2024.

It was revealed this week that despite playing a pivotal role in her 2006 album ‘Back To Black’, the character of Mark Ronson will not be included in the upcoming film of the same name.

The actor Jeff Tunke claimed in an interview with the Daily Mail that the scenes he had filmed as Ronson had all been cut from the final movie.

However, Taylor-Johnson has since responded via a spokesperson, saying: “The character of Mark Ronson has never appeared on screen in the film, so it would not have been possible to ‘cut all the scenes’ involving Mark Ronson as they do not exist.”

Alongside Abela, the biopic also stars Jack O’Connell as Winehouse’s ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil, Eddie Marsan as Mitch, Juliet Cowan as her mother Janis, and Lesley Manville as her grandmother Cynthia.

Last month, details of the official soundtrack to Back To Black were shared – featuring songs by the singer herself, as well as tracks by other iconic artists. These include three tracks from 2003 debut album ‘Frank’, another three from ‘Back To Black’, as well as five songs from artists who were an inspiration to Amy: The Shangri-Las, Billie Holiday, Minnie Riperton, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan.

Titled ‘Back To Black: Songs from the Original Motion Picture’, the compilation album is set for release on May 17 via UMR/Island Records.

This week, Dale Davis, Winehouse’s former musical confidante and the current leader of The Amy Winehouse Band, spoke to NME about the moment that he realised that Winehouse was special.

“It was my third gig with Amy, at Powis Square, London [during The Notting Hill Carnival in August 2003]. I thought this would be a difficult gig for her – a young white girl in a predominantly Black environment, but within half of her set, the square had completely filled up. I thought she didn’t need a band because her voice was so powerful. She was on fire.”

Piper, meanwhile, has recently spoken about her divorce from the actor and controversial political commentator Laurence Fox, saying: “Of course I have feelings on that, I’m not dead inside.”

“I’ve had to make some choices and a divorce speaks for itself,” she continued, and then added: “Or at least it should!”

 

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