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Billie's death threat terror.

SHE'S only 16. But pop star Billie Piper already knows there's a flip side to having the world at your feet.

Billie has been sent death threats over her romance with a boy band singer - by girls as young as 13.

The jealous teeny-boppers are furious that she has been dating their idol, 19-year-old Rich Neville of hit group 5.

Billie says: "The backlash from Rich's fans has been absolutely unbelievable.

"We knew it was a risk but when it became public knowledge I got some nasty letters and a few death threats.

"Anyone would find that hard to deal with and it was rough for a few weeks. Really scary.

"They saw me as some kind of threat. They were just mixed-up."

The poison-pen letters started arriving after the couple got together at Christmas.

Billie says: "Since then I've met a lot of Rich's fans and we've talked and now everything's cool."

Billie revealed her ordeal at Alton Towers during a break from recording the Disney TV Channel's Kids Awards.

She is nominated in the Best Female Artist category - which her heroes the Spice Girls won last year.

Winning would be another feather in her cap. Billie, who hit the big time at 15, has already notched up two No 1 singles and is currently working her second album. She has travelled to Europe, Japan and Australia and is now trying to crack the US market.

But the heavy workload has taken its toll and three times last year she pulled out of events because of illness.

Billie is quick to play that down: "It was just 'flu and tonsillitis and it came at the wrong times.

"I fly a lot and I'm always kissing fans and holding their hands. I'm not suggesting they're full of germs but you're bound to pick up everything going.

"There is also a lot to cope with - it's emotionally and physically draining.

I SPENT the first year worrying about what people thought and concentrating on 'How To Be a Pop Star'. I forgot about my own needs.

"Now I'm just plodding along. I've decided to learn my craft and just enjoy my job."

Billie's job is very much her priority, even over boyfriend Rich.

The couple - forced apart by long foreign tours and busy schedules - spend the time they do have together at the cinema or theatre. Billie calls it doing "normal things".

She certainly has no plans to follow in the footsteps of celebrity pair Posh Spice and David Beckham.

"I'm not going to have babies and get married," she says. "That's a long way off!"
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Disley, Jan
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 24, 1999
Previous Article:Holiday 99: Rush to eclipse.

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