A hard knock life for Pollard?

As Su Pollard prepares for her new role as down-trodden Miss Hannigan, Francis Batt reviews her career.

We live in the age of television talent shows. But even a tongue lashing from Simon Cowell could not equal the humiliation suffered by Su Pollard when she made her debut on 'Opportunity Knocks', coming second to a singing Jack Russell terrier.

It did not hold her back though and now the star of legendary television sit coms 'Hi-Di-Hi' and 'You Rang M'Lud', can be seen swilling gin and terrorising helpless little girls nightly. She is of course playing the horrible Miss Hannigan in a new production of the musical 'Annie', which comes to Windsor's Theatre Royal all next week.

She is no stranger to musicals having taken the title role in 'Sweet Charity' and toured in 'Grease', 'Godspell', 'Little Shop of Horrors' and 'Me and My Girl'.

Su first appeared on the BBC playing hippy Flo in 'Two Up, Two Down' with Paul Nicholas. But it was the role of Peggy Olleren-shaw, the down-trodden maid in nine series of 'Hi De Hi!' that made her a British institution.

Peggy spent all nine series trying to be accepted as a holiday camp yellow coat, despite the mean-spirited attempts of Gladys Pugh to keep her in her place cleaning the chalets. The show's writers, Jimmy Perry and David Croft, turned it into a sell-out musical which played seasons in Bournemouth, Blackpool and at the Victoria Palace in the West End.

When they then wrote the very popular 'You Rang M'Lud', Su was cast again, as down-trodden domestic servant, Ivy, for four series. Su was reunited with her friends, Paul Shane and Jeffrey Holland, in David Croft's railway comedy 'Oh Doctor Beeching!' playing station busybody, Ethel.

In addition, Su has guest starred on virtually every notable light entertainment show of the last 25 years. She is very proud to have taken part in five Royal Variety Galas - in the process meeting nearly all the members of the royal family. In 1989, she was honoured as the subject of 'This Is Your Life'.

Pantomime is also a great favourite with Su and she has appeared as a principal boy in 'Babes In The Wood', 'Pinocchio', 'Aladdin', 'Dick Whittington' and 'Jack and The Beanstalk'.

She has toured nationally with 'The Su Pollard Show' which was followed by a season in the Donmar Warehouse in her one-woman show 'A Song, A Frock And A Tinkle'. This was so successful that once more Su toured throughout the country. The Daily Express described her as '"The best one-woman show comedienne since Joyce Grenfell".

Renaissance woman Su has written a book called 'Hearts and Showers', a light-hearted look at romance, and has even made a keep-fit video entitled 'Sensible Slimming' (although she says it's hard practising what she preaches!)

She is loving the role of the wicked Miss Hannigan in 'Annie', who bears no relation to 'Hi-de-Hi's' downtrodden Peggy at all!

By Francis Batt

IC Berkshire
30th October 2003