Master Of All Trades
The Stage: Su Pollard Interview

Look who's talking; Performances on stage, screen and radio, tours to New Zealand and even a couple of appearances aboard the QE2 - Su Pollard has done it all

Su Pollard claims she was the first girl to sing Ave Maria on the club circuit wearing hotpants. She is probably the only one.

The effervescent actress has literally turned her hand to every kind of performance from cabaret to pantomime and television to summer seasons.

Perhaps best known for her role as Peggy in Hi-De-Hi! Pollard is currently reunited with two of the hit comedy's stars, Jeffrey Holland and Paul Shane, in the BBC's Oh Doctor Beeching!

She plays Ethel, the booking office manageress at a sleepy, rural railway station in the sixties. And although the character has a different, slightly more glamorous, physical image to Pollard's usual roles, the basic trait is still there - she is on the lookout for a man.

"Ethel's husband disappeared during the war and she was left with a lad to bring up, so really she could do with someone to look after them," explains Pollard. "It was fabulous fun to film, though. The outside location was marvellous. It was a little village near Kidderminster where The 39 Steps was filmed and was so lovely it was almost like going on your holidays for three weeks."

Pollard also enjoyed getting back to work with some old chums. She starred alongside Shane and Holland in You Rang M'Lord, another David Croft project, and said it was just like old time.

"Altogether it has been three months of very concentrated work, learning a lot of lines and doing lots of comedy, but you don't mind hard work when it is such fun. We all like each other and have a brilliant working relationship, so it has been such a nice experience."

Next month Pollard is off to New Zealand for a 20 week tour of the Good Sex Guide with You, which she describes as a mix between the Benny Hill Show and saucy seaside postcards.

"It's full of sketches and parodies of well known numbers, more structured than a cabaret, though, with plenty of dialogue. It is most certainly not soft porn, just a bit of fun," she stresses. "Most people in the world are curious about sex, especially when it involves other people. So it should go down well especially in New Zealand where they don't have any theatrical overkill."

Pollard has toured New Zealand before, in the cast of Don't Dress for Dinner, and says she is looking forward to returning to such a friendly place. But adds: "Life there is so slow and laid-back. After a while I just needed some stress and angst!"

The lively entertainer began her career in touring musicals and more recently starred in a nationwide tour of The Little Shop of Horrors. However, seasonal work has always remained a favourite of Pollard's and she recently completed a summer season at Blackpool's North Pier.

"I'll be pulling on my tights again for panto this Christmas," says Pollard, one of the country's most popular principal boys. This time it will be as Jack in Jack and the Beanstalk in Cardiff. Her cabaret acts have taken Pollard from the London Hippodrome to two stints aboard the QE2. She has also performed in New York and toured with the Su Pollard Show all over the UK.

"I would like to start doing more cabaret," she admits. "I really enjoy the work and would love to fix up some dates at venues as diverse as the Green Room and Halifax town hall."

Another area Pollard would like to dive back into is recording. Her single Starting Together reached No.2 in the charts and she is proud to admit that the accompanying album went silver.

"The trouble is sometimes it is so difficult to have parallel careers," she says. "But I don't like to limit myself. I have always been up for anything and believe that one of the great things about showbusiness is the diversity and the fact that you can take a chance."

Pollard is about to begin recording a fifth series of For Better or for Worse for radio along with Gorden Kaye. Radio is a medium she really enjoys but, if pushed, the actress confesses that live work gives her an unbeatable buzz.

"I think I really do prefer the theatre because you get more than one stab at a job. If you lose a laugh one night you can get it back the next time. Although the experience of working in front of a live television audience is exciting, you always know there will be the opportunity for one or two takes. I suppose it boils down to the fact that there is more responsibility on a performer to get it right the first time."

By Lisa Vanoli

The Stage
18th July 1996