Than Just A Fashion Statement
FAMED for her flamboyant fashion sense
and larger-than-life personality, Su Pollard is
one of showbizs most colourful characters.
STEVE BURBRIDGE caught up with her ahead of her
stop-off at the Sunderland Empire to find out
what gives her that insatiable zest for life.
YOULL have to excuse me if Im a
bit verbose, you know what Im like, I
dont just answer yes or no.
Its a little unconventional for an
interview to begin with a warning, but
unconventional is an adjective that is often
associated with the 59-year-old former Hi-De-Hi
The actress who made her name as scatter-brained
chalet maid and wannabe Yellow Coat Peggy
Ollerenshaw, in the award-winning sit-com, is
once again starring as Miss Hannigan, the
hard-faced, drunken orphanage boss in Annie.
As whacky as ever, Su sparked a sensation earlier
this year when she was photographed wearing a
denim ra-ra miniskirt, fluffy jacket, pink
patterned tights, fluorescent yellow leg-warmers,
leopard-print shoes and a studded dog collar.
And I was only popping to the shops for a
pint of milk! she laughed.
My bold fashion statements are an extension
of my confident personality, said Su.
You see, I have always been adamant that
everyone should be free to present themselves
however they want.
I would be totally naive if I didnt
expect to raise a few eyebrows. But if I brighten
someones day I feel really chuffed, and I
love it when I get whistled at by builders. If
they dont, Ill walk past again until
Her unique sense of style has also contributed to
She vividly remembers meeting David Croft and
Jimmy Perry, the creators of Hi-De-Hi, for the
I went in a bowler hat with a feather in
it, a long skirt, a fabulous sheepskin coat, and
smelling of patchouli oil. I think they thought I
That fateful meeting led to her being cast as
Peggy Ollerenshaw in the BAFTA award-winning
comedy series that ran for eight years.
I loved Peggy. She was a very vulnerable
character who would do anything for anybody and
just wanted to get on in the world. The
opportunity to play a character like that was so
nice and a privilege, really.
Su was born in Nottingham and, in her youth, sang
in working mens clubs before completing an
apprenticeship at the citys Arts Theatre.
In 1974, she appeared on Opportunity Knocks and
was pipped to the post by a singing Jack Russell
Her interest in acting developed at an early age
and when she was six she performed in the school
nativity play, which also provided her first
taste of comedy.
Whilst standing on a box, to announce the arrival
of the Angel Gabriel, she fell through the lid.
Although nobody was laughing maliciously,
they were laughing at the incident, said
Su. I thought: Oh, that makes me feel
quite nice and warm. That was probably
quite a catalyst really.
The response of a live audience is one of the
main reasons why Su prefers stage work to
television. She has played leading roles in many
great productions including Godspell, Grease, Me
& My Girl, Sweet Charity, Little Shop Of
Horrors and, most recently, Shout!
Her latest stage appearance sees her reprising
the role of mean orphanage manager Miss Hannigan
in the musical story of the worlds
favourite orphan, Annie.
Its great being in Annie because I
just love the music so much and its
fantastic to be able to play a part you
dont have to glam up for.
Miss Hannigan doesnt like the kids at
all, she cant stand them and they
cant stand her. But, poor cow, shes
not got a lot going for her and shes taken
to the drink because her life is
Shes desperate to find a man but
she got no chance, so you do feel sorry for
In a career that has spanned thirty-five years Su
has been consistently busy, encompassing West End
runs, national tours, cabaret, pantomimes and end
of pier summer seasons.
But her upbringing has ensured that her feet
remain firmly on the ground.
My Dad has always been one to say If
youre going to do something then do it with
I think thats particularly apt in
showbiz. You hear horrendous stories about fans
waiting outside theatre stage doors for ages to
see celebrities and then they just sweep past and
ignore them. I mean, thats appalling.
You see, I just like people in general and
most people are very kind and I just want to have
fun with people, to be honest.
to Steve Burbridge