Su Pollard Interview

Actor SU POLLARD may be well into her 50s but she has lost none of the frantic energy she used to great effect as the potty Peggy in Hi De Hi. She whirled into Melanie Wallington's life 

SU Pollard answers the phone like a whirlwind. Her sing-song voice is full of energy and warmth and instantly transports me back 20 years to a happy time when Hi De Hi, Ho De Ho was the coolest comedy catchphrase ever.

Pollard, 54, first burst onto our screens in Opportunity Knocks and after her legendary stint as Peggy Hi De Hi's downtrodden chalet maid the versatile actor has turned her talents to roles in hit TV and theatre shows such as You Rang M'Lord, The Vagina Monologues and Annie.

The Nottingham-born performer, who is renowned for her somewhat manic personality "enthusiastic," she insisted, "let's not say manic" comes to the Orchard Theatre, Dartford, this week.

A Happy Medium is a comedy about a woman who dabbles in the spirit world but Pollard says she has shied away from researching the role.

"I have been tempted to go to a medium myself but I haven't yet. I don't know why. Maybe I'm scared of what is lurking," she said.

"I would definitely ask if there was anybody there I know. I think most people would, whether they believe it or not. There is a certain curiosity there. A lot of people like to be comforted when they have lost somebody. They want to ask Are you all right?' and Where are you?'"

The affable star has only recently finished stints in The Vagina Monologues and Annie, both of which bought her to Dartford. Is she a workaholic?

"I call myself a work enthusiast. I do like touring. It is nice to get out of London and get away from the traffic and meet your friends around the country. I have been down south for about 30 years now. I love it.

"Sometimes you don't go to a theatre for years and then, for some reason, you are back three times in a year so I am looking forward to it."

Pollard cut her teeth in the working men's clubs of the Midlands and, after an apprenticeship at the Arts Theatre, Nottingham, got her big break on Hughie Green's popular talent show in 1974.

In her time the industrious Pollard has provided the voice of Penny Crayon, released several singles and an exercise video and appeared in numerous pantomimes and Royal Variety Galas all light-hearted fare. Would she consider doing something more serious?

"I would if I felt it was a good part. People say I could play the nurse in Shakespeare but it has been done by every single person who is considered a comedy performer.

"I don't want to go down that route just for the sake of it but if something serious came up which was good and I felt it was worthwhile I would certainly give it a great deal of thought. I like to pick and mix work, if you know what I mean. I like to have a go at all kinds of things if I feel it is interesting."

So, in the spirit of Only Fools and Horses and Auf Wiedersehen Pet, would Pollard consider doing a new series of Hi De Hi?

"I don't think so, unless it was stunningly directed and produced or it was done by David Croft one of the series' writers who knows it inside out because it would be a shame to do something which wasn't as good quality as the original.

"I wouldn't like to feel I was going backwards. People want to say, oh it was so good, it was just as good as it ever was, but look what people said about Ab Fab."

Pollard laments the fact some of the old gang and friends such as John Inman will be attending a book launch by Croft without her. "Work comes first on this occasion," she said.

But she is out making new friends and, after a fabulous cameo on Kathy Burke and Jonathan Harvey's cringe-worthy comedy Gimme Gimme Gimme, she is "in talks" with Harvey to appear in a spin-off.

"I love it when you say I'm in talks," she enthused.

Pollard is almost exhaustingly energetic and follows this run with a Christmas season of Annie in Manchester.

She looks great for her age. How does she do it? By getting sweaty to her own fitness video perhaps?

"I have gone off that now, I have moved on. I do three 40-minute sessions a week and I do a lot of skips. It is marvellous. I do really good floor exercises and try to walk wherever I can. I am really careful about what I eat but I like the odd biscuit I do love a biscuit!"

And then the whirlwind is gone and the line goes dead. So I go straight to the biscuit tin in homage to one of Britain's most likeable and enduring performers.

By Mel Wallington.

News Shopper
May 2004