Three little words. Thats
all it takes to get a reply from comedy star Su
Pollard. Three little words that for eight years
were the war cry of any good Maplins
Yellowcoat . . . oh, and also of one
mild-mannered chalet maid, Peggy
even as the Nottingham-born actress put the
holiday-camp sitcom behind her way back in 1988
with one last defiant "Hi-de-hi" yelled
Julie Andrews-style, moments before the final
credits rolled, she knew escaping the character
that had made her a household name would be
the past that has caused her to reflect that:
"The only time it gets on my nerves is when
people are too shy to speak and they wait until Ive
passed and shout: Hi de hi after me.
Of course, I shout: Ho de ho back.
And then I think: well, thats the voice
gone for tonights performance!"
now that performance is part of the national tour
of the hit musical Annie, in which she plays the
wicked orphanage manageress.
gives audiences a chance to see Pollard in a
whole new light . . . as the bourbon-swilling,
hard-cussing, man-hunting harridan, Miss
star, famous for her OTT specs and dangly
earrings, says: "Its fantastic to be
able to play a part you dont have to glam
up for and a marvellous challenge because she has
to be absolutely real.
she hits the girls (she always takes it out on
the kids), she hits them on the bum with a
paddle. And all the orphans have to wear padding
because I said to them: Its no use
Miss Hannigan tapping you, shes got to look
like she is merciless. But you cant
help feeling sorry for the woman as well because
she has a terrible drink problem."
a role the 53-year-old is relishing, and with a
scream of laughter she adds: "When I first
got the part I actually said to the director:
I think I need to go out on a bender to
research the role! He said: No."
the Festival Theatre next week, its not
just the kids that Pollard has to cope with in
the musical tale of Annie, the 12-year-old orphan
whose dream finally comes true when she is
plucked from the orphanage and welcomed into the
warm and loving home of billionaire Daddy
Warbucks. By working with not one but two canines
(Sandy played by Danny and Mutt played by Sparky)
Pollard breaks the first golden rule of theatre -
never work with animals or children -
dogs are a little excitable," she admits.
"But the children are superb and the music
is so great. Ive always wanted to be in
Annie because I just love the music so
musical, which co-stars Sixties chart-topper Mark
Wynter (he had nine Top 20 hits including Venus
in Blue Jeans) includes old favourites like The
Hard Knock Life, Easy Street, Youre Never
Fully Dressed Without A Smile and the
show-stopping tear-jerker, Tomorrow.
got a brilliant cast. Every single person seems
to be absolutely suited to their part. Mark
Wynter is just fantastic as Daddy Warbucks, hes
very warm and still has a great voice. He was
probably the Will Young of his day. Young and
beautiful to look at," she enthuses.
in Annie brings the outrageous performer back to
her musical roots. Her career began at the age of
16 when, while working as a secretary, Susan
Georgina Pollard started singing in charity shows
and working mens clubs - her proud claim to
fame from that time being that she was the first
woman to "sing Ave Maria in hot pants in a
working mens club."
reveals: "That was the campest thing. I used
to have these thigh boots, and hot pants with a
bib on (almost like dungarees) that said on the
front I love Mr Pink because I was
going out with a bloke called Andrew Pink at the
time. We thought wed get married and said
if we had a little girl we would call her Saffron
- can you imagine, Saffron Pink. The poor cow,
shed never dare leave the house.
nobody ever expected me to sing Ave Maria and I
think they were pleasantly surprised when I did
because I had a soprano voice then."
an apprenticeship at the Arts Theatre in her home
town, Pollard famously came second to a singing
Jack Russell terrier on Opportunity Knocks -
although her first taste of the spotlight had
actually come at the age of six when, as an angel
in a school nativity play, she stood on a box to
announce the arrival of the Angel Gabriel and
promptly fell through the lid - "I remember
crying," she confides.
the tears, it was her first experience of making
an audience laugh and although she has since
become known for comedy, it is singing that
remains her passion. "I actually started
singing in the school choir," she recalls.
"And have tried to take it as seriously as I
could - I had lessons for years - because I
believe that if you have some talent in that
direction its nice to fulfil its
why I try to do roles that combine the comedy,
the drama and the music. To be honest, Ive
really enjoyed the work Ive been doing over
the last couple of years."
with a twinkle in her eye, she adds:
"Between you and me, Im never going to
see 27 again and because of that I seem to be
getting a lot more challenging roles now,
characters that are a bit more meaty, and thats
things for sure. They dont come more
meaty than Hannigan.