|People Have Slagged Off My
Clothes, But My Style Reflects My Personality:
in Annie in Belfast This Week, Su Pollard Tells
Maureen Coleman Her Eccentric Fashion Secrets and
Why She'll Never Play That Chalet Girl Again
not everybody who could handle coming second to a
singing Jack Russell dog in a television talent
search. But then Su Pollard's not exactly the
type to throw a diva tantrum or let a
music-loving mutt hold her back from pursuing her
the age of six, when she played an angel in the
school nativity play, Su knew she wanted to act.
Even when she fell through a cardboard box while
announcing the arrival of the Angel Gabriel, the
laughter of the audience didn't put her off.
Quite the opposite - - she loved the attention
and was certain she'd found her calling.
10 years later, she began singing in charity
shows and working men's clubs, before landing an
apprenticeship with the Arts Theatre in her home
town of Nottingham. Then came her now-infamous
appearance on Opportunity Knocks, when her
rendition of I'm Just A Girl Who Can't Say No was
upstaged by a certain pup.
Su went on to make a name for herself on both
stage and screen. Her first comedy role was in a
BBC series called Two Up, Two Down, which in
turn, led to the role for which she is best known
-- chalet maid Peggy Ollerenshaw in Hi De Hi!
has fond memories of her time on that show and
doesn't mind that the public still confuses her
with her scatty alter-ego.
I still get called Peggy to this day," she
fact, I was just outside WH Smith yesterday and
someone called out 'Hey, Peggy'. It happens all
get some of the young ones who've maybe just
watched the show for the first time on repeats,
calling to my house. They've found out where I
live and they want to meet Peggy. It's hilarious.
They come up to my door, ring the bell and when I
answer they'll ask me 'Is Peggy in?'.
tell them Peggy's away cleaning the chalets. Then
they start to tell me 'I'm six and three
quarters, you know'. Isn't it funny the way they
are always something and three quarters? Then
they'll ask me to let them know when Peggy comes
home. Ah, bless them."
Su finally comes up for air, she tells me that
it's the 30th anniversary of Hi De Hi! this year
and the cast are planning a big reunion.
was lovely being part of the show," she
says. "And we're going to have a big bash in
Dovercourt, where Hi De Hi! was filmed.
keep in touch with quite a few of the cast,"
she tells me. "I spoke to Jeff Holland
(Spike Dixon) and Barry Howard (Barry Stuart
Hargreaves) just recently and I saw Ruth Madoc
(Gladys Pugh) about a month ago and Paul Shane
(Ted Bovis) about two months ago. So yeah, we
still see each other quite a bit."
easy to see why some people confuse the real Su
Pollard with the likeable, excitable Peggy
Ollerenshaw. The chances that they'll find
similarities with the current character she's
playing are much slimmer.
the next few months Su will tour with Annie,
appearing at Belfast's Grand Opera House this
on my second tour with this musical, playing
orphanage matron Miss Hannigan," she says.
thinks she's an evil old bag, but it's when the
drink is in that she turns evil. And she drinks
because she's had a difficult life.
in charge of some terribly wayward girls, who are
awful to her. They tease her, they torment her,
they wake her up in the middle of the night, they
scream and shout at her. And Annie is the worst
of them all.
poor woman. She tries to blot it out with drink.
She's on the Jack Daniels constantly. She just
about manages to keep it together. And she
desperately wants a boyfriend.
manages to run away one night -- well, she
escapes in a laundry basket. The police have to
bring her home. Miss Hannigan's been on the drink
again and she tries to seduce the policeman.
after all the trials and tribulations, it has a
happy ending. It's not just a sentimental show,
it also has great music. And it's a fantastic
night out for both kids and adults."
thrilled to get the chance to sing in this show.
No stranger to musicals, she relishes the
opportunity to perform Little Girls on her own,
and Easy Street with two other cast members.
the songs are very uplifting," she says.
"Nothing is mimed, everyone has great
voices. The scenery is lovely, there's the 'aw'
factor and all the cast work really hard. A lot
of the little girls come along to the shows
dressed as Annie. I know I'm biased, but it is a
very good family show."
Su enjoyed much television success in shows such
as Hi De Hi!, You Rang M'Lord and Oh Dr Beeching,
it's theatre where her heart really belongs.
love the immediacy of a theatre audience,"
she says. "You take them on a journey with
you, from curtain up to the show's ending.
we are very lucky that we get applause for what
we do. I'm very respectful of that. Not everybody
gets immediate applause for what they do. Take
the man who works at Gregg's Bakers. Does he get
that type of immediate response for his
doughnuts? I don't think so. That's why I always
tell the younger ones to give a show their very
made her television debut on Opportunity Knocks,
Su says she understands the need for reality
television programmes such as The X Factor --
even if she does think they are too long and
drawn out. "Opportunity Knocks was more like
the Britain's Got Talent of its day, with the
number of novelty acts taking part," she
guess there has to be some way of finding new
talent and Simon Cowell certainly knows what he
is doing. But I sometimes think The X Factor has
just a bit too much padding -- I don't think
there's a need for all those preliminary rounds.
And I don't like that humiliation of the
contestants that goes on. It's like throwing
someone into a Roman colosseum for the amusement
of the jeering, booing crowds.
a bit too much like the Jeremy Kyle Show meets
American Idol, with this new live audience
format, but I suppose they have to keep
reinventing the format to keep it fresh and
show she is adamant won't be reinvented is Hi De
Hi! Despite the plethora of hit television
programmes that have been reworked or brought
back to life on the big screen, Su says she would
never reprise the role of Peggy Ollerenshaw.
not. I'd never do Hi De Hi! again. That show
could never be replicated," she says.
can't resurrect characters like that, it just
wouldn't work. Anytime they've tried to replicate
sitcoms, they've always been a disaster. It was
good to say goodbye when the show was still going
Belfast, Su is off to Bournemouth for a run of
Snow White, yet Belfast has a special place in
her heart. She tells me she always looks forward
to visiting Northern Ireland.
been over a few times. I did panto with the
wonderful John Lenihan once and then I came over
to see my friend Ray Meagher (Home And Away) in
panto too," she says.
of course, I was over with Annie before as well,
maybe five or six years ago.
love Belfast. I had one of the best meals ever in
a restaurant that looked a bit like a library --
oh, Deanes, that's what it was called. Lovely.
And I was amazed at how many Spars there were.
city has great art galleries and shops, too, and
I'm looking forward to having a browse around
your new shopping centre, Victoria Square.
know you probably hear this all the time, but
Belfast is one of my favourite places to come to.
The people are very stoical and great fun, too. I
hear there have been a lot of changes in the last
few years, but I hope it hasn't changed too
may be best known for her role as the loveable
chalet maid, but there's another reason why she
regularly features on the pages of newspapers and
women's magazines -- her colourful and eclectic
had my fair share of criticism but I've had
plenty of positive feedback, too," she says.
some people have slagged me off for wearing a
mini-skirt or a fascinator, I don't care.
mean, look at Vivienne Westwood. She went to see
the Queen with no knickers on! Fair play to her.
don't think style should be related to age. If
you have a certain look and are happy with it,
then why not stick with it?
not a huge fan of designer clothes really. I'm
not big into, say, Dolce and Gabbana, but I do
like Giles Deacon. I tend to wear clothes by
people who aren't well known, like maybe a design
student from Central St Martin's.
don't wear couture stuff. I'm really into buying
basic stuff, something that might catch my eye in
a shop window, then I add my own little touches,
like a lovely fascinator to finish it off.
think my style reflects my personality. I haven't
gone down the route many women have, so I guess
my attitude to life is slightly different. I'm
fortunate enough to have my freedom -- and to
enjoy it. Maybe that's what keeps me young at
Annie and Snow White, Su plans a few weeks off to
recharge her batteries. But she has big plans for
looking at doing a stand- up singing tour in the
new year," she reveals.
are no women doing that kind of thing anymore.
Remember Marti Caine? She was great. I've written
some material for it and hope to do the tour in
spring. I'm also in talks to do the comedy show
Benidorm, which is fantastic, because I'll get to
go to Spain as well.
a feeling next year will be a good one and
hopefully, there'll be plenty going on to keep me
interview coming to an end, Su pauses to take a
ask her if she's ever come across that Jack
Russell dog who stole the spotlight from her all
those years ago.
I hear the poor thing died," she says.
"But he has a brother who's taken over from
him, I've been told. I hope I don't come up
if she does, I don't think she'll have any cause
for concern this time.