Su Pollard on one-woman show heading to Darwen: 'I've got nothing to hide'

Su Pollard heading to Darwen Library Theatre
Su Pollard heading to Darwen Library Theatre

AN interview with Su Pollard is exactly how you might imagine it would be - she’s funny, her words tumble out at an alarming rate and she can quickly change subject in mid sentence as another thought pops into her mind.

It’s a classic case of what you see is what you get. Not for her any actor-ish pretence or hiding her real personality behind a facade. Indeed there probably isn’t a facade big enough which could do the job.

Now theatre audiences are getting the chance to share an evening in her company as she presents her first one-woman show And Another Thing ... talking about her life and career.

“Oh darling,” she says, “I’m hoping that it will be a cornucopia of pleasure - do you like that,I’ve just learned that word?

“But I’ll be looking back on a few things I’ve done, sharing a few anecdotes, treating the audience to a few songs - and that’s just in the first half of the show. In the second half I’ll be throwing it open to a question and answer session. That’s quite a lot to fit in isn’t it?”

It certainly is when you take a detailed look at Su’s career.

She’s probably still best known for playing chalet maid Peggy Ollerenshaw in the classic BBC comedy Hi-de-Hi set in a holiday camp which ran from 1980 to 1988 but her CV reveals a performer who has been much in demand.

Her first stage role was in Godspell in 1974, the same year that she appeared on the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks where she performed a number from the musical Oklahoma and finished runner-up behind a singing Jack Russell”!

From there roles in various musicals followed including Grease in the West End.

Su Pollard about to go onstage in her one-woman show
Su Pollard about to go onstage in her one-woman show

Su Pollard about to go onstage in her one-woman show

Following the huge success of Hi-de-Hi, Su became an instantly recognisable star - she released a single Starting Together in 1986 which reached number two in the singles charts - and was even voted Rear of the Year in 1988.

Numerous theatre and TV appearances have continued ever since ranging from West End shows to Shakespeare and from guest slots on quiz shows to being a contestant recently on Celebrity Masterchef.

So there’s plenty of material for her to go at, but why now?

“I realised that if I don’t do this now, in eight years time I’ll be 80,” said. “I might not be here then so it’s time to get it done. I never want to be carried into a venue.”

For And Another Thing ... Su has worked hard on the look of the show.

“I told the promoter from the start ‘I can’t do a show that’s just got a plant pot on a table’,” she said. “Whenever I’ve seen shows like this before there’s always a geranium just sitting there so we’ve got a lovely set and hopefully that will make it an interesting experience and people have something to look at.”

With such a successful career, getting the show into a manageable length could have proved tricky.

“Hopefully the show will feel unscripted but it is quite tight,” she said. “There are certain elements which have to be in there. I’d be mad not to talk about Hi-de-Hi for example but it’s all about spending the time as wisely as possible.

“Much as I loved Ken Dodd, I don’t want my show to be like one of his and go on into the wee small hours.

BUBBLY: Su Pollard
BUBBLY: Su Pollard

BUBBLY: Su Pollard

“I have framework to work to but I can be spontaneous and I won’t be able to stop myself from saying all sorts of things that just come into my head.”

One of the highlights for the audience will be a rapid tour through Su’s pantomime career - she’s been in 40 festive productions and counting.

“You know how the Reduced Shakespeare Company managed to cut down classic plays?” she asked. “Well my arranger has done something similar for all the pantos I’ve been in which should be fun. It’s all about giving the audience value for money, I’m a great believer in that.”

In devoting the second half of the show to a Q&A Su promises that nothing is off limits.

“I don’t want to sift through all the questions in advance,” she said. “I have a couple of assistants who may pick out a few choice ones which they think could be fun but mostly I don’t mind being put on the spot and just doing it. I don’t think I’ve got anything that I don’t necessarily want to share.

DRAMA: Sue Pollard in Harpy (Picture: Andrew Searl)
DRAMA: Sue Pollard in Harpy (Picture: Andrew Searl)

DRAMA: Sue Pollard in Harpy (Picture: Andrew Searl)

“Obviously if someone gets a bit too cheeky I’ll let them down gently but I certainly don’t want to offend anyone.”

One of the attractions of the tour is that Su is heading to venues she’s not played before - like Darwen’s Library Theatre.

“I’ve done all sorts of stuff in my career and now for me the time is right to branch out and do stuff I really want to do.

“I’ve just done a one-woman play, Harpy, and I loved that and now I’ve got this to take to audiences. It’s very much a try-out to see how we get on. Something like this you can build on.

“It is a bit of a challenge because I always want to be entertaining.”

Su Pollard, And Another Thing, Darwen Library Theatre, Wednesday, February 16. Details from www.bwdvenues.com