Clean Break From Maplins

With a CV littered with tea-time TV comedies and panto appearances the last thing you would expect Su Pollard to turn her hand to is Shakespearean tragedy.

Only three days ago she was playing the Wicked Queen to packed audiences but already Su is throwing herself into rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet - and loving every minute of it.

"This will be my virginal appearance as far as Shakespeare goes," she laughs. "I have read things and seen lots of productions, of course, but this will be the first time I have taken to the stage.

"I have been asked to do other productions but have never seemed to find the time. But this production has a great director and obviously a fantastic writer so I thought it would be a good job to do."

Su's bubbly character and kind-hearted nature make her perfectly suited for the part of Juliet's nurse - one of the more humorous parts in the play.

"I thought the role of the Nurse would suit me. It is a fun thing and she is a kind soul who tries to do her best," she says.

"I suppose Shakespeare can be a bit of a shock, I have had to just forget I have ever done panto. But it is just the same as doing any kind of job even if it is not the same sort of silliness. You just take on board what you have to do and you do your best. I will just take it in my stride."

And Su is not short of varied projects to keep her busy. With plans for a one woman show, radio sketches and voice-overs for a new series of children's programme Little Robots in the pipeline, it is a wonder she ever gets time to herself.

But she still makes sure she has time to stay in touch with her fellow survivors from her Hi-De-Hi days.

The popular sitcom set in post-war holiday camp Maplin's dominated TV screens throughout the 1980s and made Su, who played cleaner Peggy Ollerenshaw who dreamt of being a Yellowcoat, a household name.

"If we don't get the chance to see each other we will always stay in touch by text," she says.

"I have just seen Ruth Maddoc - she was playing the same part as me in panto in Blackpool. We went out for dinner and had a great time. I am also hoping to see Paul Shane soon in Derby.

"When we first started out together hardly any of us were known. We all learned from each other how to handle it. There was a great camaraderie.

"We went wine tasting so we could learn to be more sophisticated. We had competitions and I would always get it wrong - I'd call something a Hock when it would be some wonderful concoction from Chile."

Now as a refined Shakespearean actress such carefree days must seem a long time ago but as long as Su is doing work she can be proud of she is content.

"I like to do anything I feel is good stuff - you should not limit yourself and try anything within your scope. I try to take on all sorts."

Joe Maplin would be proud.

IC Croydon
February 2006