Pollard reveals a hunger for pantomime... and champagne!

Meeting Su Pollard is like catching something that could be dangerous like dying of laughter. She is the epitome of the joy of living, and that she revels in it is extremely apparent.

Even though she and I had never met, there I was, chatting to an old friend and having the time of my life.

I started out by asking her how she was enjoying the tour. She is currently on the road with a production of The Pirates of Penzance with Gary Wilmot. Her answer was typical and almost childlike. "I love it very much. I particularly love staying in hotels, because if it's a town you have never been to before, there is so much of interest to discover, such as local places that are unique areas, landmarks, grand historic buildings and so on. I find all that exciting."

She was equally disarming when I asked what she most disliked about it. She answered "Nothing". However, she did add that in this particular show, she has to sing in a bonnet and that makes it quite hard acoustically. It is particularly difficult to make sure you are being heard.

I have often been told that the true professional stage artiste can gauge the quality of the sound of his or her own voice by listening to its echo as it were.

Regarding television, having appeared on it more times than she can remember, it was, she said, difficult to say which current programme was her favourite. These days she hardly has time to watch TV anyway because she's always on the go. On her own favourite television performance she had to admit that it always depended on the team she worked with, but she was definite to confirm that she loved every single one of the episodes of the sitcoms in which she appeared.

Her family, by the way, did nothing to influence her choice of career at all, but they did not dissuade her and, naturally, they are delighted at the result.

Su Pollard prefers the stage to television. It is, she avers, infinitely more rewarding. When touring and arriving at a new theatre she finds it actually exciting discovering the situation and whereabouts of the dressing rooms and the acoustics of the theatre. Acoustics? There's the mark of a professional.

One of her favourite forms of entertainment is pantomime. I had a record of six she had appeared in but she told me she had actually appeared in twenty-seven.

Her favourite by miles is Aladdin, but she likes Dick Whittington and Jack and the Beanstalk. She loves playing Principal Boy and is particularly pleased when the kids cotton on to something that leaves the adults bewildered. That, she said rather wickedly, is great.

In the West End she created the role of Suzette in the comedy Don't Dress for Dinner, and subsequently took the show to New Zealand as well as number one dates in this country.

Along with recordings and the numerous and well known television shows, she has appeared in radio comedies, for example with Gordon Kaye in For Better or For Worse, and is the voice behind the popular children's cartoon Penny Crayon.

One of the highlights of her career was a night at the Royal Festival Hall singing with the eighty-strong BBC Radio Orchestra. The concert was broadcast live on Radio 2 and she received enormous acclaim for her performance. You can add to this her CD of Little Shop of Horrors, her single, Starting Together, which reached number two, and her first album which went silver.

She is no stranger to cabaret either and has her own show, A Song, a Frock and A Tinkle and she has appeared in cabaret on the QE2, the London Hippodrome and in New York.

This all brought me to asking whether she preferred musicals to plays. She told me that she really didn't have any preference but the dread is that something could be mediocre and that could make life very difficult.

As to preference for songs or composers, her only thought is that the song should have a good hook, by which she meant a tune, a lyric or a basic idea that drives the song along its way and makes it memorable. The outline of her cabaret act illustrates this. In it she is able to do anything. There is no strict rule. It could be a song from a show, or a good Barbra Streisand number for instance. "As long as I enjoy the song I'll sing it".

Regarding her future singing plans, there is an idea for a new musical for next year on the cards, as yet top secret, and she is thinking of taking material from a show she appeared in last year, Viva La Diva, and adding it to songs from her cabaret. "Nothing big, just a trio perhaps, and me. You can't beat a live band."

As I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Su Pollard, I asked her what was her idea of having a good time. The answer was direct, charming and intelligent.

"Enjoy the Now! Enjoy knowing you're not hankering after anything. Going out at lunchtime with a friend and having a good time and not getting home until about 8pm.

"I remember about four years ago going to the Escargot restaurant with Carmen Silvera for lunch and we had two bottles of champagne. At the end of the day, it was quite late, we didn't remember much except what a good time we had!" 

In the beginning, trying to break into show business, she took part in Opportunity Knocks coming second to a singing Jack Russell dog. I asked what did the dog do?

"The dog was on the man's shoulder and he sang Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and the dog yapped to the tempo of the music.

"They were obviously looking for novelty acts. I met the man much later and asked him how he had progressed from there. He told me the dog had died but that he now had another one, which was just as good.

"Later I also found out that the headmaster of a school persuaded 1200 pupils to write in, voting for the dog, and much later I met the headmaster too. He apologised to me, but then I told him the dog had died and I'm still here."

So what did Su Pollard do on Opportunity Knocks?

"I sang I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No, and they believed me."

I still believe it, in a strictly professional way.

Indie London 2002