reaction to her show. it is less a
measure of arrogance than of sound commercial knowledge ofher worth. She trumpets a raspberry of laughter at the idea that her talents might extend to straight acting. perhaps a Lady Macbeth. ‘Oh. you can forget her. no—TRRRRRRRP!’
In her hook. at least. there are the ‘posh actors called lahdies’ and the light entertainment people known as ‘turns‘. ‘And if you want to do both. we call ourselves turdies!‘ she crows. ‘Don‘t get me wrong. I respect anybody in this business that does a good job whatever facet of the theatre it is. I just feel that for Shakespeare there‘s enough people to do that now and enough great devotees ofit like Judi Dench. Kenneth Branagh. people like that. I‘ll leave it to them. And ierver want to do it I've got years yet.‘
The actress does however nurture an ambition to be taken a little more seriously. While it seems hosting the gameshow Take The Plunge counted as being taken more seriously (according to remarks she made to the press). she says now that she is prepared to wait around for a really juicy part — once she‘s sorted out the authors‘ names. ‘I‘d like to do a Talking Head. you know. Alan Ayckbourn. it is Alan Ayckbourn isn‘t it'?‘ ‘Alan Bennett.‘ I prompt. ‘Alan Bennett. beg your pardon. there‘s so many bloody Alans!‘
As she likes to think: ‘Every comic person has got that sensitive streak in ’em. Otherwise they wouldn‘t be able to do the sad bits.‘ and the
With a laugh like a drain and legs the length of Leith Walk. Su Pollard is a godsend to tabloid punsters. But is this the height ofthe hyena in a mini-skirt’s aspirations? Stephanie Billen turns the tape on the Hi-De-Hi.’ heroine.
40-year-old who has starred in musicals such as Me and My Girl and as a maid in the series You Rang. M'Lorcl. hopes to graduate to something meatier by the time she is 45.
Given these ambitions. I can‘t help
wondering why she seems to pander to the tabloids. providing screeds of quotable trivia. The headlines from a selection of recent press-cuttings will give you an idea of her serious status among hacks. ‘Su-Paghetti!‘- that one is about Su testing out some ‘low cal (spag) bols‘ for the Sun. ‘Slimline Su's going salad mad‘ — just how does she keep those great legs so long and thin; ‘She's a scream says Su‘ — a picture of Su with her wacky mother: ‘Saucy Su Pollard’s Hi-De-Hi.’ Love Life — extracts from Su‘s kiss-and-tell autobiography Hearts and Showers in which she kissed and told about her love-life.
The high-kicking. bottom-pouting pictures that accompany these pictures — and the plethora of remarks about her legs — are easy to explain. Indeed. as we speak, Su is looking a bit sexy with her short blond crop of hair and big white glasses setting off black and yellow ﬂowered cardigan. black mini-skirt with tassels. and sheer black tights. ‘1 used to think Peggy, poor cow. was always dressed so dowdy, it was such a relief to go to clubs and wear short skirts and stuff. Because I always think. ifyour legs can stand it. why not?‘
She defends the spaghetti tastings and the tackiness: ‘I love all that because primarily I am quite well aware of how important the press are. They are important because they give you publicity. but you also do likewise for them; they are not going to have a picture ofyou looking bland. They don‘t put anything in unless it is a silly. nice, funny picture. so I am quite prepared to meet them halfway on that.‘ But she admits to being more discriminating now about who she talks to: ‘Once you get known for a certain part. they think you‘re totally thick. and I object to interviewers that want to go on that tack. They don‘t give you credit for having a brain. so I don‘t speak to them any
A PRPE SPEC TA 0L E l
more. . . And ifthey want to start probing and prying. I say. sorry I‘ve got the next appointment now. But I‘ve been in danger of saying too much over'the years - because I do you see; I‘m me own worst enemy.‘
At this point. I embark on the thorny subject of the tabloids‘ sensationalist treatment of the fact that her husband is a former homosexual. ‘They do sensationalise. I‘m afraid. . .‘ But we are interrupted by a knock on the door. revealing a timid PA who. it turns out. recognises me from high school. Su is delighted to change tack and take on a kind of Cilla/This Is Your Life role. ‘I bet they do know each other! Uh oh! Oh, I don't believe it! Oh. isn‘t life funny. Oh. I can‘t bloody believe it. You‘ll have to have a good chinwag. . .'
Still. she does me the honour of returning to the subject swiftly if only to say somewhat firmly - and her next appointment is not far away — ‘That‘s in the past now and I never refer to it.‘
Su Pollard’s shrewd handling of the press is symptomatic of her clever marketing of herself. She is fun. friendly. nice to fans and. to look at. positively bird-like in her frailty. But one detects a certain steely determination there as well. and a businesswoman’s realisation that what she was born with is what will sell. She is proud to be eccentric. As she says: ‘There are no characters left these days. Years ago. when I was about twenty, back home in Nottingham. it used to be. because it was — er— a different way of life and you made your own entertainment. you had all these sing-alongs and you entertained each other. You didn't have a resident comic coming in who you paid. Not like these days. You had to create your own fun. And it was all sorts ofcharacters. little men who used to come in kilts and put swords on the ﬂoor. Brilliant. You don‘t get any characters these days. Everyone tends to be a little bit safe. a little bit bland.‘
The message is clear. Don‘t mind her. you can call her wacky anyday. Su Pollard '5 A Song, a Frock and a Tinkle is at the King’s Theatre. Edinburgh on Sun 22 Apr at 7.30pm.
‘I used to think Peggy, poor cow, was always dressed so dowdy, it was such a relielto go to clubs and wearshort skirts and stuff. Because I always think, ilyour legs can stand it, why not?’
The List 6— 19 April W909