The thing about actors is that you always think you know them. Usually you are wrong. The laugh-a-minute TV gagster is a misery off-stage and the rent-a-thug villain turns out to be a pussycat. But with Su Pollard. you can rest assured -you do know her.
In fact. you have probably even met her, for ifshe is anywhere within shouting distance. you will have heard her shouting. I first saw her in the ﬂesh at a press screening of The Color Purple. where she attempted stage whispers — both while arriving. crashing into knees and bags as she squeezed through (‘ooh sorryl‘) — and during the film. which is admittedly very emotional. far too emotional to keep our Su quiet.
Su Pollard is ofcourse the one from
Hi-De-Hi.’. and in person just the same — bounce personified. although with a surprising veneer ofglamour. Su is unconcerned by her unshakeable identity as holiday camp chalet maid. Peggy. in the hit series. ‘I think. er. I think anybody that makes a success of a character. in whatever show. like even Penelope Keith as Margo in The Good Life years ago and now To The Manor Born. you‘ve always got that tag for the rest ofyour life really. and I don‘t mind that because I think. if you acknowledge the thing that made you a success. . . you can‘t just not ever mention that again. because if you‘ve been in people‘s homes on average six times a year for ten years and made an impact in a show. you‘re a fool to yourself if you
pretend it never existed. It‘s just that some people don‘t want to mention it because they fear that they‘re never going to get any other work.’
Su. allegedly nicknamed Polly Parrot at school. talks at breakneck speed and is consequently amazed at my attempts to get it down on paper. ‘You look like you're doing bloody braille. you!‘ Luckily my tape-recorder is sympathetic to her speech patterns: ‘I find that ifl talk very. sort of. pedantically. it lasts for hours and hours and I lose my momentum. I can't get very excited in a very slow delivery.‘
It is hard to imagine Su ever in a quiet moment. and this certainly isn‘t one ofthem. (‘ramming as much free publicin as she can into a week. she hasfitted me in fora half-hour at Noel (iay Artists' agency in London‘s West End and. having got me within spitting range beside her on the sofa. she isn‘t going to pause for thought unless she has It).
Foremost in her mind is the one-woman show which she is taking up to Scotland. Yes fans. Peggy will make an appearance. but there is a lot more to Su Pollard‘s performance than that. A lot more dresses for one thing. Su is delighted to explain the title ‘A ’iong. a Frock and a 'I‘inkle'. ‘Most people say “()h. is it to do with a toilet?” . . . Well. it's nothing to do with indoor plumbing. . . the title straight away emphasises the content ofthe show. I mean. it‘s. let me see . . . some are comedy songs. some are specially written for the
show and some are golden oldies that we know. So that‘s the 'song' taken care of. The frock represents two wonderful gowns that I'm wearing cos there‘s two halves — it‘s almost a two-hour show. So I‘ve got these two fabulous gowns. I mean one‘s a sort ofshort shift but glittery. and one in the second half is a sort of longer frock with slits up the side etc. so in a way I‘m after a sort of— er — theatre/Leis Vegas-type look. not just coming on and doing it in a suit
or a pair ofjeans cos I think. you know. that‘s not a show. And the . tinkle refers to the pianist playing beautifully.‘ l
She aims to give nothing short of ‘value for money‘ — ‘I don‘t think a : lot ofother people do. I really don't' — and that means audience I participation. panto banter and l planning. ‘I want it to be a nice structured evening. and it is. There's 5 a proper script. whole dialogue. I apart from the occasional ad lib that. : you know. you do throw in.‘ Undisturbed by the possibility of Scottish audiences throwing things back. she is quick to launch into her version of Glasg-nost appreciation of a much-maligned people. ‘No bullshit. I love Scotland. . . the audiences are really warm. I mean. I know we say. “The Glasgow people are out to kill you” but. but. but why slzouldn '1 they? Ifwe are rubbish they‘ve got every right to say “(ierroff". you‘re crap!” You know. I mean why not'."
Scotland is a ‘tough city‘ as she puts it. But ifshe is confident ofa friendly
81116 List 0— 19 April l99l)