Su's Really In The Pink

Su Pollard has an awesome presence. She bounded into our interview full of life, a vision in pink, covered in sparkly accessories and clutching a frog handbag.

I was struck by her infectious, if a little exhausting, energy and I instantly knew that our interview would be anything but dull.

The 57-year-old is taking a well-earned break between performances of the Birmingham Rep touring production of Romeo and Juliet, in which she plays Nurse.

"It is so nice to be taking a break - I have been working hard on the part, and it has taken a lot out of me because I have to really concentrate on getting all the flowery language right.

"I wanted to do Shakespeare for a while, and the part of Nurse has been a great for me because she is a great comic figure - her character has been easy to ease into because I feel like I'm in familiar territory."

Cast members had just two weeks to rehearse for the four-month show, and perfectionist Su spent hours preparing with the show's director to ensure she got the part spot-on.

"I make sure I warm up properly before every performance. I am a firm believer in the five Ps - which are proper preparation prevents poor performance."

But despite the headaches, Su is having a ball.

"I consider the show to be one of the highlights of my career - the cast is fantastic and we have a lot of fun together."

Su grew up in Nottingham, but has made London her home for the past 32 years.

She is a self-confessed hoarder, and her town house garage is packed with treasured momentos of her career - from her original Peggy costume, to a Noel Edmund's Gotcha Oscar.

She loves the glitz and glamour of the showbiz scene and has had a firm presence on the celebrity circuit during her 30-plus years in the limelight.

She counts the likes of Michael Parkinson and Gloria Hunniford among her famous friends but does not believe in spending a lot on flashy items.

"But I do have my little luxuries like taxi rides - I never learned to drive."

She thrives on challenges and it seems she has tried her hand at everything - having attempted a film career, achieved chart success, and even penned a novel.

Su is perhaps best known for her role as yellowcoat wanabee, cleaner Peggy Ollerenshaw, in the 1980s hit sitcom Hi-De- Hi!

However, she has been performing since the age of five, when she made her acting debut in a school play and found she adored the attention.

"I just love making people laugh. To me the greatest sound of all is when you hear people practically being sick because they are laughing so much!"

But Su seems to have favoured theatre over the small screen in recent years.

"I do love television, but many shows are not as well produced these days, and are far too reliant on reality show formats. I find these shows ghastly - I have turned down three offers to appear on Celebrity Big Brother because I do not want anyone to control my actions."

But what are her thoughts on the good old days?

"I remember filming episodes of Hi-De-Hi! as if they were yesterday, and I do still miss it.

"The scripts were of such good quality, and there was a fabulous sense of comradeship on the production - we had a lot of fun and I am still in touch with cast members.

"The show is now being enjoyed by a whole new generation, which is great, and I get kids knocking on my door asking for Peggy - I tell them `She's not in at the moment because she's doing the chalets, but she'll be back tomorrow'!"

But does Su mind that she is best known for a character she played more than 20 years ago?

"I think that all stars are known for one significant point in their career, for example look at Alec Guinness - all those great performances and he is still best remembered as Ob-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars!"

As she re-applied her bright pink lippie, Su pondered future goals.

"I would love to do a musical comedy film with Barbara Streisand who I think is a fantastic actress. When I was last in California, I put a note through her door suggesting that we work together - her secretary politely declined the offer."

The tour of Romeo and Juliet finishes next month at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton, but Su's workload will not be easing.

Future projects include a revival of her successful one-woman show, a voiceover for a new series of BBC children's animation Little Robots, a reprise of her role in the Vagina Monologues, and a return to a favourite panto role of hers, the Wicked Queen in Snow White.

Huddersfield Examiner
March 2006