There's just no stopping Su
Pollard. The actress, who found fame with her
portrayal of drab chalet maid Peggy in the
sit-com Hi De Hi!, takes on life with such
energetic exuberance she's like an express train
leaving you breathless in its wake.
got such a warm, sunny personality it is hard to
imagine her as drink-sodden harridan Miss
Hannigan, who rules the orphanage with a rod of
iron in the musical Annie.
Su is now on the road in her third tour of the
show and has got all the niceties - or rather the
nastiness - of the role down to a fine art.
explains how she puts her heart and soul into her
big numbers Little Girls and Easy Street. "I
really, really feel it when I'm singing Little
Girls. Some kids - not necessarily the ones
playing the orphans - can be a bit precocious and
you can really get it all out of your system. I
love it when I have to tear the arms and legs off
this doll. Then I tear its head off. It's
after experimenting with various drinks, she has
settled on cold tea as her alcohol substitute.
"I tried cola and that's too gassy and the
wrong colour. Ginger beer is the wrong colour too
but cold tea works. And it has no bubbles. You
can't have Miss Hannigan burping all night
--though I have done once or twice. Timing them
in the right places can be difficult but it does
make people laugh."
is a practised comedienne who got her first taste
of making others giggle when she was just six and
played an angel in the school nativity play.
standing on a box announcing the arrival of the
angel Gabriel the lid gave way and Su plummeted
through it. Everyone hooted with laughter and
from then on she was hooked.
16, in her home town of Nottingham, she began
singing in charity shows and at working men's
clubs. After an apprenticeship at the local
theatre she made her debut in 1974 on Hughie
Green's talent search Opportunity Knocks.
for Su it didn't knock quite loudly enough. Her
rendition of I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No
from Oklahoma! saw her come second to a singing
Jack Russell dog.
an indignity might have deterred lesser mortals.
But Su went onwards and upwards, appearing in an
assortment of stage shows which included The
Desert Song, Rose Marie, Godspell and Grease.
big chance came with the role of daffy Peggy
Ollerenshaw in the now classic Jimmy Perry and
David Croft BBC comedy He De Hi!
the holiday camp comedy ended the writing
partnership dreamed up a new series set in the
20s, You Rang M'Lord, in which Su appeared as
maid Ivy alongside old Hi de Hi! chums Paul Shane
and Jeffrey Holland.
the mid 1990s David Perry reunited some of the
team for Oh Mr Beeching in which Su played Ethel
the box office clerk and resident gossip.
is known to young TV viewers as the voice of
Penny Crayon and Noisy in the animated series
always been happy to combine television and stage
work. But having been involved in some of TV's
finest comedies refuses ever to settle for second
best. "At the moment I'm discussing a pilot
for a sitcom about an eccentric private
investigator a bit like Miss Marple," she
gushes. "But if a script is not good I won't
entertain it. I don't want to do something
mediocre. I'm not from the school of thought that
anything will do. You know me, I'm a bit like
Pick & Mix at Woolworths: I like doing a bit
of this and a bit of that."
committed to appearing in Annie for several
months, including a Christmas season in
Manchester instead of her usual panto, but is
talking about dusting down her one-woman show
again sometime soon and touring it to studio
venues round about. "It's called Lady in
Waiting at the moment. It's more than just
singing and chatting. I'm doing some sketches
about my career, playing myself and Shaney (Paul
Shane) and Ruth Madoc with wigs," she
recent project which suited Su's zany personality
was a comedy called A Happy Medium in which she
portrayed a latter-day Madame Arcati. "I
really enjoyed that. It was a great vehicle for a
female performer and I was only off stage for
five minutes - apart from the interval! - for the
whole show. It was a marathon but it was
marvellous. I thought to myself if I can learn
all those lines in a fortnight I can do
on the cards that Su might return to the role.
"It's got a real shelf-life. It's new and it
needs a bit of tweaking but it would be great for
a summer season. I'd love to do it again as it's
got so much potential."
now Su is thoroughly enjoying breaking that old
showbiz law which dictates you should never act
with children or animals.
horrid Miss Hannigan she shares the stage with
both - a new bunch of orphans each week and a dog
which has been known to refuse to make its grand
entrance so that the human actors were forced to
move swiftly on to the next scene.
54, single again after her divorce from husband
Peter, has no children of her own but loves
acting alongside a new bunch of little girls each
week. "I get new orphans each Monday. Most
of them are marvellous. Our choreographer goes on
ahead to drill them and they have rehearsed the
routines three or four times a week with their
dancing schools. Sometimes I get carried away and
manhandle them a bit! I tell them I am only
acting as I don't want their mothers saying that
Su Pollard is an old bag who hits their