Hi-de-Hi! Su Takes To Tragedy

Best remembered as dizzy chalet maid Peggy in sitcom Hi-De-Hi!, Su Pollard has just been bitten by The Bard. Victoria Tagg reports

Breathless from visiting a friend, Su Pollard is about to exercise her bedside manner as Nurse in Romeo & Juliet. But before stepping on stage at Wolverhampton Grand Theatre, the former Hi-De-Hi! star found time for a chat with the Express & Star in her dressing room.

Talking is definitely her strong point - she never stops.

"Hi darling, look - there are the party poppers for our big bash. This is our last week - we've been doing it for three months," Su says.

"I'm not used to Shakespeare, but I've loved it. Before this I was being the wicked queen in Snow White and before that it was The Vagina Monologues. It's an eclectic period for me."

Su reaches for a cough sweet. No, she hasn't got a cold - apparently they are good for "getting the saliva going," which helps when you're talking all the time.

Despite being 56, Su feels like a spring chicken and is bursting with energy.

"I should have tried getting away with 47. Actually I feel 19 and-a-half. Yes, that was a great age because I was in love with somebody and mini-skirts were all the rage."

In fact, Su was wearing a very short skirt and her legs are certainly in good shape. So how does she stay so slim?

"I try to be healthy and always get my five fruits a day. I love bananas, satsumas and apples. Oh and I'm mad on porridge - it's good for slow-release energy.

"I also work out three times a week. I have a pilates routine for stretching and toning and do 100 skips a day for my cardio. I couldn't bear it being doddery - I need to be nimble, darling."

Sue was born and brought up in Nottingham, but home is now London and has been for the past 32 years.

"Who said 'when you're tired of London, you're tired of life?' I love London, apart from the traffic - that drives me insane. You can fly to New Zealand in no time but it takes four hours for me to get to Heathrow. I don't drive, so I either get a driver or get on the Heathrow Express. It's a very good service."

New York, Bombay and Bangkok are among her favourite holiday destinations, along with Huddersfield and Skegness.

"I'm not fussy. I go with a couple of mates or my sister Jeannie. She's a human biology lecturer and very brainy."

Like a true party animal, she raves about going clubbing, drinking and eating out. 

"I'm not into champagne or spirits, I like Chardonnay or a pint of lager. I'm a mad keen lunch and dinner woman - it's my biggest extravagance.

"Going out for lunch is best because it's more relaxed and they can last forever."

Su reminisces about her longest lunch to date, spent with 'Allo 'Allo! star Carmen Silvera at Le Gavroche in Mayfair. "We started at 1pm and were still there at 7.30pm. The maitre d' came over and asked if we were staying for dinner.

"By then we were starving again, so said yes. We had fish, salad, ratatouille and cheese to share. I love cheese. Of course there were a few bottles of wine thrown in. It was all fantastic."

Su also drinks plenty of tea. If there was enough time in the day, she could easily get through 30 cups. 

"It's a totally ridiculous amount. But usually I'm too busy working. I never refuse anything, as long as it is a good quality script."

Her other indulgence is, of course, glasses. She owns about 70 pairs of specs of all shapes and sizes.

"I get them from the Anglo-American Optical Company - I've got some brilliant butterfly ones and another pair that are like guitars.

"The most I have spent is 525, which was a bit of a shock. They are the sexy secretary style with leopard skin print frames."

And she still has the owlish glasses, worn for her most famous role as scatty chalet maid Peggy Ollerenshaw in the hit TV comedy Hi-De-Hi!

"I've got the whole costume, darling. They were happy days." 

No stranger to the Grand Theatre, she last played orphanage matron Miss Hannigan in the musical Annie three years ago and is very pleased with her current role as Juliet's nurse. In fact she has been looking after the entire cast.

She said: "I'm a bit of a mother hen. I started bringing in sweets for them all, but now it's grapes and satsumas to be good.

"There are lots of young ones, so I've taken them under my wing."

As for having her own family, Su is resolutely single. She divorced Australian school teacher Peter Keogh in 1992 after eight years of marriage.

"I finished with men ages ago. I can be more productive without them. I'm just happy being everyone's aunty."

And with that she disappears backstage.

"Bye darling, lovely meeting you. Are you coming to the show?"

Wolverhampton Express & Star
March 2006