Peter, Peggy And Potty Pollard!

It was the marriage that seemed destined to hit the rocks - daffy Su and quiet Peter. The snipers said it couldn't possibly last. But it has. Three years on they're still together, still smiling and still very much in love. And they've got great plans for the future.

Five minutes was all anyone gave it, and they weren't talking about boiling eggs. Even as show business marriages go, this one seemed weighted with concrete, and all ready for the divorce lawyers to get rich on. The celebrity and the primary school teacher - it didn't seem like much of a match, more like a walkover. Su Pollard, mad Peggy of Hi-De-Hi! Daft, daffy, gorgeous, loveable Su and...Peter Keogh. Peter who? Ten weeks they'd known each other and then they were married.

Everyone laughed. Then the troubles started and they were living with the curtains drawn, the draw bridge up.

It wasn't much of a start to a marriage, hiding from the newsmen and reporters, but a very good beginning for a divorce, with him standing in the dock, his past raked over in a daily dose of headlines, while she looked pale and exhausted, as though she were about to break into a thousand pieces.

And then it was over. He was in the clear, his gay past was out in the open and no longer news, but what lay ahead?

They cuddled and slimed and went home to open the curtains and lower the drawbridge, while everyone waited for the split. And they're still waiting - two weeks ago, on April 22, they celebrated their third "impossible" wedding anniversary.

Not long back from a seven week holiday, which included a spell in Bali, the "unhappy" couple were clearly getting on as "badly" as ever, chatting, laughing, smiling, teasing and touching. Although, to be absolutely truthful, she was doing the talking, while he was waiting for her to draw breath and get a couple of words in, before she rattled off again.

We all know Su and we all know what she's like as Peggy. And, let's face it, it's hard to spot the difference. They both talk an awful lot, and they're both overflowing with energy and enthusiasm. But we don't know, and we don't see, what she's like when she's with Peter, nor what he's like and how their marriage ticks.

So much has been said about him without his ever saying a word, you can't help but wonder what to expect. And then when you do see them together, you wonder just who all these stories were about. He's tall, broad and good looking and, most obvious of all, deeply in love with our Su. As she chatters on, leap frogging from one subject to another, changing conversation faster than Peggy causes chaos, he looks at her with complete warmth and affection.

And she's fiercely protective of him. "Please try to leave the past and all that stuff about the trial out of it," she says. And you want to for her sake - for both of them - because they're such a happy, lively couple. But you can't because what happened in those tough, early days of their marriage had such a profound effect on their relationship.

"Three years, can you believe it?" asks Peter, smiling. "It was the marriage that nobody gave a chance, and I admit that I had my doubts, too, yet we couldn't be happier. After all, we'd only known each other for a few weeks. I was 39 and Su was 34, and after being independent for so long, both of us had to learn to share.

"When all that business happened with me in court," he says, referring to when he was charged with - and cleared of - stealing 4200 to pay for a boyfriend's holiday, "it put our relationship under a lot of pressure. Afterwards I think we both felt that as we'd got through that we could handle anything life threw at us."

Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the whole affair was that instead of the publicity wrecking her career, as many had expected, Su included, the upshot was the exact opposite.

"The demand for her services doing personal appearances, advertising, in fact, almost anything - increased dramatically. There was a very obvious and sudden change," Peter recalls.

Su still finds the support she received from her fans, and the general public, touching. Suddenly she was more than just potty Peggy, the chalet maid. And from such an awkward start, marriage too, became easier and more comfortable. Their recent seven week break was the longest time they've spent together - what with Peter working in school and her touring and travelling.

"I suppose we were just like any couple spending a lot of time together. We had our disagreements. It was quite hard to adjust at times, but it was lovely having the time together, just being able to relax," Su recalls, with all the wriggling, jiggling and frantic mannerisms that make her both so appealing yet so exhausting. Quite simply, there's never a pause or quiet moment when she's around.

She's dressed in her usual chaotic ensemble. Mismatched earrings, a skirt which she keeps hitching up to the top of her thigh to show off her mosquito bites, shoes colour co-ordinated to absolutely nothing, bright yellow rimmed glasses, and her only recent concession to convention, matching socks worn outside her tights rather than the clashing colours she used to go in for.

It's how you expect Su to dress - or even Peggy if she got it together to wear anything apart from her uniform. Peggy, dear Peggy, Su looks sad at the mention of her name. Sad because soon, Peggy will be no more. After this autumn's filming of Hi-De-Hi!, there'll be no more Maplins, no more holiday camp capers.

Even though she's had people shrieking "Hi-De-Hi" at her from Perth to Miami, Los Angeles to Scunthorpe, and even though she groans when people shout it at her in streets, shops and restaurants, she sounds gloomy when she talks of the show's demise.

"It's such a shame, I've adored everything about the programme," she says. "the safety of working with people you know, Peggy herself and, of course, knowing that whatever happens you still have that contract.

"But I think it's right to go out at the top. You can't have Peggy cleaning chalets when she's 60 and Gladys still trying to chat up the men. I'll be sad when it's over because Peggy changed my life. In the first episode I only had 10 lines. I was so nervous, I'll always remember them" - and to prove her point she goes on to recite every word of those 10 lines.

"I didn't become like Peggy, you know, I made Peggy into me. The scriptwriters used to listen to us chatting in the canteen and slip something they'd heard you say into the next series.

"I'll always be typecast as Peggy because I talk like her, I look like her and I'm half like her anyway. I think that whatever you do, you'll always be known for one particular role and there's nothing wrong with being remembered for someone who was really liked. I'd sooner be known for Peggy than unknown."

This is going to be a year of change for Su, and a time of upheavel for Peter. She's trying to build up a reputation for her one woman show - doing a bit of dancing, a bit of singing, and a bit of this and that - while Peter, after a year of supply teaching in different schools, is going back into full time work in a Roman Catholic primary school.

He might only earn in a year what she can pick up in a week, but he's clearly happy to be returning to full time employment.

"I was helping Su a lot, and I got very involved in her career, too involved in fact. I was getting very tense and uptight about it. I didn't realise it at the time, but it put a lot of pressure on our marriage because all we ever talked about was work. In bed, in the kitchen, the conversation was always work. It certainly doesn't do anything for the relationship if in the end everything is just business."

Su nods in agreement. "In the end you stop talking about one another. Your feelings towards each other, everything, are based around work." It was a mistake but, fortunately, not a disaster, and certainly something they have no intention of repeating.

So she'll keep appearing in front of millions and he'll be in front of 20 children.

"I feel very good about going back to teaching," he says, "because the way things were going I was in danger of losing my identity, just being in Su's shadow. I have to have my own career. It doesn't matter that it's low key compared with hers. Schoolteacher or window cleaner, it makes no difference, I learnt that I could never be Mr Pollard or Mr Manager.

"It's quite strange, and rather disconcerting, when you discover that people are only being nice to you in the hope of getting through to Su. Well, now I'm out of it and back teaching and I'm very happy to be Peter Keogh again."

And just by the enthusiasm he has for being back in the classroom, you can tell he won't miss hanging around backstage one bit.

The only part of teaching he doesn't enjoy is games, particularly football. "Can't stand it," he says. And Su, who's gulping down her third cup of tea in half an hour, laughs at the thought of her husband on the sports field. "Can you imagine him in shorts chasing after a football?"

As a matter of fact, yes I can. Whatever his past, there's nothing remotely limp wristed about Peter. But football, he underlines with a firm voice, is not for him. Neither is the idea of having children. "I get quite enough of children at school. I like them very much but I don't need them at home."

Su, who begins by saying that she doesn't really want them either, softens when pressed. "I'm getting a little old for it," she says pointing out that she's 37. "If it happens then great, but at the moment I'm busy with my career. I don't think that I could keep my career going and have children. I've seen some people do it, bringing their children on set, they do it brilliantly, but I think that's a miserable place to bring children up.

"But then I never wanted a cat. Yet now we've got one, I wouldn't be without it. She's completely neurotic, just like the rest of the family. So, who knows, perhaps it would be nice to have children..."

Peter shakes his head and gazes at the ceiling while quickly chipping in that it's not a good idea atall and, anyway, there are all those things she still wants to do.

"Yes, dear, but I think I'd be a very good mother and I do love children..." and Su's voice trails off as she considers the prospect.

Her face, which is already feminine and friendly, and warmed still further by her tan, softens a little more. "I think I'd like to have children. It would be nice, but not yet, we're not ready."

Although Peter will never be ready if he can help it, you get the feeling that if it's what Su wants, then it's what he'll want, too.

A couple of teenage girls tap on the window and shout "Hi-De-Hi!" and Su waves back and mutters "Hi-De-bloody-Hi!" under her breath. One more series, but how many years of having the world thinking of her as Peggy?

As for what she might do apart from her one woman show, the future's a bit vague. She says she'd like to appear in a musical like South Pacific.

"I always want to play someone who has fun," she says, jiggling some more, hitching up her skirt and pouring another cup of tea at the same time. "I don't think that I could play someone like Alexis because I don't think it's fun clawing someone's eyes out and ripping everyone to shreds. That's not me. And if I was going to be Hilda Ogden then she'd have a new wardrobe immediately. I'd not wear those clothes!"

Su, as Hilda or Peggy in a soap, what fun! She could save Crossroads single-handed. It's not going to be the easiest of years for her, trying to make her way on the cabaret circuit with her one woman show, trying to prove there is life after Hi-De-Hi! and Peggy. But with Peter back at school, at least there's one thing she can be sure of, one piece of consistency in her life, and that's her "five minute" marriage!

Celeb Magazine 1987