Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Because we want two! Because we want two! (Or zero, if you can manage it)

Billie Piper has upset the grande dame of stage schools, Sylvia Young over claims in her autobiography that alongside tap and diction, the school trains you in self-image problems and eating disorders 101.

Piper remembers her time at the school:

"My nonchalance for my own appearance soon changed. I noticed after about a week of being there that the girls just didn't eat.

"In fact they'd go to the toilet to escape the smell of food wafting out of the canteen. There were kids walking around with ankle weights strapped to their legs and no-one would say anything."

The former singer said she was stifled by the school, where parents told their children to eat carrot sticks at lunch and where many pupils had super-rich parents who were living vicariously through their children.

Young has hit back through that most serious-minded of mediums, Heat:

"I am very worried about Billie. I really wonder if there's something wrong, because to me, my staff and even Billie's former classmates, this sounds nothing like the girl we knew, nor the experiences we know she had here."

She adds: "She made references to being a poor girl among lots of 'stinking rich' kids, but 80% of the pupils in her class were given assistance from us to attend."

She says: "Most of them had cockney or northern accents, especially in her class. Besides, Billie herself was quite middle-class, with excellent diction. Any suggestion that she was working class is pure fantasy."

She tells Closer: "I know a teacher suggested ankle weights for a specific ballet exercise, but they were never walking around the school as she describes.

"There was one girl who had a thing about carrot sticks, and we actually used to feed her up.

"Billie writes that she was constantly told she should be lighter, smaller, thinner'. I don't believe it. The size of our pupils have never been important".

Yes, since amongst the other graduates of the school are Denise Van Outen, Emma Bunton and Nicole and Natalie Appleton.

Of course, it says a lot about Sylvia that her placing on Billie on the social scale is down to her accent rather than what her parents did. Her Dad was a labourer, albeit one who worked his way into owning his own business. Which would seem to disprove Sylvia's assertion that "any suggestion she was working class is pure fantasy".

It's not entirely clear how true it is, but sources claim Piper has reported hearing the gathering sounds of tiny tap-shoes tip-tapping outside her front window at night.