Wacky, comical, eccentric even, but daft is one thing Su Pollard certainly isn’t.
Su exudes an infectious energy that keeps her constantly moving. In fact, she finds it extremely hard to keep still. Her hands gesticulate as she talks, seemingly conducting the chinking coming from the plethora of faux diamond necklaces, cascading down her chest. It’s a warm day, she’s wearing shorts and a plain white t-shirt, marguerite rimmed glasses and dangling diamond clusters from her ears. Strangely it’s only her odd socks that look out of place as she puts the kettle on in her North London home.
“I’ve always liked things like this,” she says tugging at her necklace, “and I mean this is just to wear round the house!”
“When I went to the interview for Peggy, I saw Jimmy Perry at his house in Westminster. He answered the door and said, “No thank you!” He must have thought, good god, who the bloody hell is this. I thought I looked fabulous but I must have looked a right sight; covered in patchouli oil, scarves tied round my wrists because I liked all that at the time and a bowler hat with a feather in it. That’s quite imaginative I suppose. I just have an eye for the bizarre. Even if it doesn’t look fabulous, I don’t care.”
Su is inevitably remembered as dithery chalet maid “Peggy” from the 1980s sit-com Hi De Hi!, but the show which ran for 58 episodes represents but a fraction of her thirty year career. Since it ended in 1988 she’s recorded two albums, written a book, made a video, toured with her one-woman show and starred in countless theatre productions up and down the country.
“I’m definitely a perfectionist. I always think if you can get 100% that’s fabulous, but you must try for 110. I do like to prepare though, preparation is everything,” she says, waving her hand towards an extensively tagged script.
For the past month Su has been in Lincoln starring as the wicked queen in the pantomime Snow White, just one of many theatres she has performed in over the last year playing “Miss Hannigan” in Annie and Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance. In many respects Su prefers the theatre to television; there’s more freedom, it’s a work in progress and offers the chance to improve on previous performances. There has been talk of her returning to our screens but she’s turned down numerous sit-coms because she feels the scripts aren’t up to scratch.
“I just like to do what I feel is a good vehicle, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a star vehicle but it’s got to be good work. I don’t like doing rubbish. I still get offered things I did thirty years ago and I think, I’ve been there, done that, what satisfaction am I going to get?”
Now 53 but looking much younger, Su takes care of herself by skipping and taking vitamins although this doesn’t entirely account for her boundless energy.
“I’ve been dead lucky. I’ve always had a zest for life simply because I’ve always lived for the now. It’s no good getting excited about something that’s happening in November if it’s only August. I’ve got to enjoy every single day I have because they don’t come again.”
Su is equally unequivocal when it comes to her personal philosophies.
“Work hard, play hard in equal measures and be responsible for yourself. If you feel you’ve done everything that you could for yourself in your own life, you’re doing a good job, but you do have to establish some sort of route or growth with yourself otherwise you just dither. If you don’t stretch yourself you don’t know how you will tackle things. You don’t know your own strength or what you’re capable of.”
Su hasn’t any children but she’s never regretted her decision. “Absolutely not; drive me nuts! I know people say you can have it all if you plan, but being a mother is a full-time job. You’ve got to give that child all the support and security and let’s face it, if you have a funny childhood, you’re stuffed up. So many people are dysfunctional. I didn’t want that sort of responsibility, I wanted a career. I don’t think its being selfish, I’m just trying to realise my potential with the talent I’ve been given. Let’s face it, more and more people get divorced and then what happens to the kids? Too hard, I think, no thank you. I baby-sit for anybody anytime because I enjoy that, but that’s all the involvement I want.”
Unsurprisingly, Su’s life has been full of capers. Her stage debut in a school nativity play saw her fall through the box she was standing on as she announced the arrival of Angel Gabriel. She came second to a singing Jack Russell in her first television appearance on Opportunity Knocks and her ex-husband, Peter Keogh proposed to her whilst she was dressed as an insect, filming an episode of Hi De Hi.
“When he asked me to marry him I said, “Don’t be so ridiculous!” Then I had to go straight on, dressed as a centipede, banging a pair of bongos. I came back and said, “What did you say?” It was weird, but it was great. Bless, I thought, that’s a funny proposal. I’m glad I got married. It’s one of those things isn’t it, sometimes they last, sometimes they don’t.”
Su hasn’t had much luck with men. “I’m hopeless, hopeless, hopeless at choosing blokes. I always have been. Suddenly I think to myself, what am I doing with him, this is ridiculous. So I’ve decided to give myself a break and maybe I’ll suddenly meet somebody marvellous. I don’t seem to have met anybody I feel is equal enough, in terms of liking the same things. It’s very difficult to meet somebody unless they’re an actor and I’ve never gone out with actors. Their egos are right out here, but at the moment it’s nice not to have any involvement that takes me away from my focus, especially when I’m touring.”
“I’ve been very unfortunate with the chaps I’ve met. Sadly, two of them have kissed and told which I can’t bear. I just hate that, so I think I’ve got to be really careful, but you’ll be the first to know if I get ensconced in a romance. I might stick it on my website and say hey, guess what guys! Mind you, I might not. I might just keep him under wraps.”