|Su Is Not A
Lady To Be "Pegged" Down!
Peggy in Hi-De-Hi! wanted was to be a Yellowcoat.
Su Pollard is rather more ambitious - she wants
to be a superstar! And it looks as if she has the
talent, energy and determination to do it...
Special Interview By Stephen Hunt
Pollard's lifelong ambition to be a famous face
has already been fulfilled through playing the
hapless Peggy in TV's Hi-De-Hi!. Yet
following the announcement that the next series
will definitely be the last, Su has now set her
sights on achieving something much bigger and
bolder - to become the next Shirley Maclaine!
you think that such an ambition is about as
feasible as poor Peggy's fruitless attempts to
become a Yellowcoat at Maplins, then be prepared
to be proved wrong! If there is one quality for
which Su is renowned, it is her dogged
all, you would have to be pretty persistent to
overcome falling through the lid of a cardboard
box as a six year old in your first school play,
or coming second to a performing dog on Opportunity
Knocks! And Su certainly knows what it is
like to suffer for her craft, having persevered
through 13 years of amateur theatre in her home
town of Nottingham while working as a secretary
by day and a singer in workers' clubs by night,
to make ends meet.
that she is a star and in demand, Su is not going
to be caught napping. Her shrewd outlook has
reaped great rewards in the past few years.
that time she has reached number two in the
singles charts, released her debut album and
scored great success with her cabaret act in
Britain, Australia and aboard the QE2. She also
appeared on a Royal Variety show singing 'The
Lady Is A Tramp' from the musical Babes In
Arms, in which she toured the provinces with
actor friend Matthew Kelly.
she starred for seven months in the enormously
successful Me And My Girl, made an hour
length musical special for the BBC and last
summer received excellent reviews in a short tour
of Sweet Charity - the classic musical
that in 1969 was made into a memorable film
starring...yes, none other than Shirley Maclaine.
at one of her former professional homes, the
Adelphi Theatre in London, 38 year old Su looked
typically zany in a pink & yellow tracksuit,
tweed jacket and sporting a parrot shaped earring
as she told me about her admiration for Shirley
I've always loved her," she enthuses.
"I think she's a really strong and honest
performer. She always looks as though she is
enjoying what she is doing rather than just
pretending to - and there is nothing she cannot
do. She's got the lot!
like to think I could be as good as her or any of
the all time greats like Streisand or Minnelli.
They don't have to make holes in their jeans to
remain popular! I was thinking the other day
about how few female performers there are around
to take over from these people. I found myself
saying, 'Go for it!' and now I'm really excited
Su will not be content with anything short of
success on an international scale! Already she
has conquered Australia having popped up on all
the chat shows there following the great success
of Hi-De-Hi! down under. And in April she
will return for her second concert tour there in
as many years.
want to do more and I believe that if you can get
the offers then you must not hang about.
You must get up and go," she declares.
Su hopes to make it big in the United States and
perform a week of sell out concerts at her
favourite venue - the legendary London Palladium.
In the meantime, Su will be putting the finishing
touches to a new album and a
semi-autobiographical book - intriguingly
entitled 'Love Hurts' - before opening in the
London premiere of the hit Broadway musical show Jerry's
features the songs of Jerry Hayman, composer of
'Hello Dolly!', 'Mame', 'Mack And Mabel' and 'La
Cage Aux Folles'.
change of direction is not only fuelled by her
ambitious nature but is also due to the lack of
good new television shows being written.
scripts that I get sent are really quite
appalling and I have often said that I will never
do another sit com unless it is of the excellence
of Hi-De-Hi! or even better. I have turned
down about half a dozen lately because there is
no point, when you have worked so hard to achieve
a high standard, in accepting mediocre stuff just
because you want to be seen on the box again.
lot of my friends have made that mistake. They
have taken the first thing that has come along
thinking that they will be able to make it work.
Well, they haven't - it's hopeless. So therefore
once you have made your name, you have got to
keep up a high standard or else your reputation
goes down the dip."
the transition from comedy to music has been a
very easy one for the inexhaustible Su because
she admits singing has always been her first
can put everything into a song. The words and
music are there ready to be interpreted into a
whole, well rounded performance. As soon as I
hear a song I like, I sing it around the house
all day and it is lovely to be able to think that
something comes out of your mouth that is neither
flat nor sharp!
haven't had a proper singing lesson for ages.
However, I practise every day with an instruction
tape which I listen to on my portable stereo with
mention to Su that, although her first album
contained a number of pop songs such as 'Band Of
Gold' and 'You Never Done It Like That' I
consider her to be closer to a torch singer than
a pop star.
I know what you mean." she smiles. "In
fact, somebody mentioned that to me once before
and I said, 'What do you mean? I don't run off
batteries!' I didn't know what a torch singer
always thought Judy Garland was terrific and she
was never a chart artiste, was she? She was more
of a torch singer. Yes, I think that is
eventually how I would like to see myself - a
concert performer. But if I happen to make
records that sell and get in the charts then that
I do love all those emotive songs that really
stir something up inside you. I feel that I
deserve for myself to sing songs that have got a
lot of soul to them and are not just five note
jobs. So I have decided that my next album will
consist totally of show songs."
it was the simple ditty, 'Starting Together', the
theme from the BBC documentary The Marriage
that provided Su with her first major hit,
reaching number two in the singles charts. She
was kept from number one by the Diana Ross hit
'Chain Reaction'. I ask Su if she was
disappointed at being runner up.
yes! I nearly slashed my wrists, overdosed,
jumped out the window, put my head in the
oven!" she laughs mischievously. "No,
I'm only joking. I just thought, That little
upstart Diana Ross - she's only been going
twenty-five years! But of course it was
disappointing but I was just glad to make the Top
in future I would like my records to do really
well without the presence of a TV programme
which, to be frank, acts as a weekly nationwide
plug for the record."
you like the song?" I ask.
enough, I did. I mean, obviously it was not the
type of thing I would have chosen but I did it
because I knew it would get maximum exposure and
bring to people's attention that I can do more
than just Peggy in Hi-De-Hi! I'm not
knocking her - she is brilliant and the whole
show is - but you have got to show people that
you can do other things.
be honest, though. I must admit that the words of
the song are very schmaltzy and much more so for
me, but I don't care. I would like to thin that
in ten years time people will be playing it at
BBC series for which the song was the theme
proved to be even more controversial, with many
claiming that its study of a young Welsh couple's
first year of marriage was patronising and
boring. What was Su's opinion of The Marriage?
only saw two episodes," she admits,
"but I thought it was an informative
programme about an average couple. I think that a
lot of viewers could identify with them and say,
'It's just like us two. We do that, don't we?'
in a way, it was an eye-opener for people who
were interested to see how their marriage was
working out in comparison to someone else's. I
think the young couple were very brave to do it.
of people think it is undignified for ordinary
folk to want to be seen on television, but for
many people it is a big dream."
herself has been happily married for three years
to Australian teacher, Peter Keogh - that is,
unless you believe some of the stories that
regularly appear in gossip columns. Su answers
doubts on the state of their marriage wit typical
humour and self assurance.
have agreed that the best way to deal with it is
to tell each other everything so that we can
expect the gossip. We have seen that a lot of
celebrities get very upset by the gossip columns.
read certain things about each other and then
start bickering with each other. They are just
not close enough to handle it. But Peter and I
are - we just say, 'here we go again.'
you, I'm very glad of the notoriety. I have had
practically more publicity than anyone else in
the last few years! And it has not affected my
popularity atall. In fact, I received a lovely
letter today from a lady telling me to 'take no
notice of the gossipmongers, my dear!'
problem is, as soon as you become well known, the
slightest thing that appears in your past is
immediately front-page news."
overwhelming success in the role of Sally Smith
in Me And My Girl changed a great many
people's perception of her as a performer. Since
then she has been inundated with offers of
further stage work, which means she can now wave
goodbye to Hi-De-Hi! without having to
fear the kind of bleak future that awaits many
stars who have been so strongly associated with
just one character.
preparation for Me And My Girl, she not
only had to develop a Cockney accent, but also
took tap dancing lessons for months in order to
be proficient enough for a sequence that lasts
is only a very small part of the show, but it is
very intricate if you are not used to tap
dancing, so I had to learn it literally step by
step. But the singing did not worry me at all and
I picked up the accent quickly and just had to
really was the most enjoyable piece of work I
have ever done - absolutely brilliant! And the
best thing about the show is that it attracts
many people who have never been to the theatre
before. It's the sort of show you can go to see
and, for an evening, forget that you owe a
thousand pounds or that your house has burned
down - brilliant!"
after Su left the show in August 1986, it opened
to rave reviews on Broadway and is likely to
still be running on both sides of the Atlantic
when Su returns to the West End stage in Jerry's
Girls in the spring.
picking up fresh skills with every new part she
tackles, is there any area of show business that
Su is prepared to leave untackled?
yes, I don't do impressions because I am not very
good at them and also feel that they have been
done to death already. I think that the top
impressionists are very clever, but I want them
to impersonate me, thank you very much. I think
that is an accolade!"