Well known for playing Peggy the chambermaid in Hi-de-hi! and the voice of cartoon character Penny Crayon, Su Pollard has had many interesting experiences in her life.
Born in Nottingham, England on the 7th November 1949, the eldest daughter to Don and Hilda Pollard, who worked at the John Players tobacco factory. They named her Susan Georgina Pollard, and didn't have another child until seven years later when they had Su's younger sister, Jean who was later to star in a BBC documentary called Me and My Town about Nottingham which Su was presenting.
Pollard attended Berridge Infant School where she played as an angel in the school nativity play. Whilst on stage she fell through a box she was standing on, which made the audience howl with laughter which thrilled Su, and inspired her from a early age to make a career out of comedy. By the age of 11 she had joined the Co-operative Arts Theatre, a small independant theatre group positioned in Hockley in Nottingham. She made it a big part of her life, as she did Nottingham Forest football team which she spends time supporting.
She left school at 16 and became a secretary by day and a singer at working mens clubs by night where she occassionally sang Ave Maria in hotpants. She had the occasional difficulty though, on one occassion being asked to leave due to unladylike behavior as she was drinking a pint of beer.
Su's television debut came by her appearing on Opportunity Knocks with Hughie Green. She was however beaten to the first prize by a singing Jack Russell. After her first appearance on television she went on to sing in many musicals including Godspell, Big Sin City and Grease in the same production as Tracey Ullman. Other theatre productions followed, with her comedic skills and outgoing personality helping her along the way. She starred in Not Now Darling with Tim Brooke-Taylor, and Philately Will Get You Nowhere which was written by Andrew Sachs, better known as Manuel from Fawlty Towers.
Her first television comedy role was in 1978. This was Two Up Two Down where she played a hippy called Flo who was squatting with her husband, who was played by Paul Nicholls. This only lasted one series but was soon to be followed the next year by a pilot episode for Hi-De-Hi.
Here Pollard played the part of Peggy Ollerenshaw, a cleaner at the Butlins-style holiday camp who was desperate to become a performer on the stage but kept getting setbacks. This legendary comedy ran for 58 episodes until 1988 on the BBC and had up to 15 million viewers per episode in its prime. During this time, there was a stage production of the show called Hi-De-Hi - the holiday musical. Pollard starred in this with all of the cast from the television show and played very successful summer seasons in Bournemouth and Blackpool. Her music career carried on throughout her acting career and still does to this day. She reached number two in the UK charts with the theme tune to a BBC documentary called The Marriage, which resulted in the music video being shown on Top of the Pops. This led to an album being recorded for K-Tel which went silver whch she follwed up by touring with the Su Pollard Show in 1987. It was so successful that she toured again the next year with a one woman show which she entitled A Song, A Frock and Tinkle.
When Hi-De-Hi ended in 1988, Pollard was offered the role of Sally in Me and My Girl which she played for a year at the Adelphi Theatre in the west end of London. After this she played Bunny Byron in Babes in Arms by Rodgers and Hart with Matthew Kelly.
You Rang M'Lord?
Another television series written by Perry and Croft was next for Su. It was called You Rang M'Lord? and starred the majority of the cast who were in Hi-De-Hi, but this time was set in the twenties with Pollard starring as Ivy Teasdale, a maid to Lord Meldrum. This series, with Paul Shane and Jeffrey Holland, ran from 1988 to 1992, only for the cast to be reunited yet again in another comedy by Perry and Croft called Oh Doctor Beeching!. This was set in 1963 at Haltry railway station with Pollard as the ticket office clerk who was also the station gossip. This series, to which Su sang the theme tune, wasn't as sucessful and lasted only 19 episodes before it was cancelled.
In between these two series, Su made a pilot show for a comedy called According to Daisy in which she played a journalist called Daisy Lane-Coursier who has two children who misbehave regularly. In the first episode she advertised for a home help who turned up in the form of Mr Pym, played by Gordon Jackson. Unfortunately, shortly after the recording of the pilot show, Jackson died, and the pilot was never shown, even though another actor was lined up to play his part if the show was commissioned.
Little Shop of Horrors
Since then Pollard has concentrated on her musical career. In 1994 she starred as Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors in a national tour which went to the west end of London and to New Zealand. Whilst in New Zealand she starred in a stage version of The Good Sex Guide with David Griffin. She has also stared in pantomines too numerous to mention as principal boy and as principal girl.
On the 8th of April 2002 she starred as Heidi Honeycombe, Tom's singing teacher in Gimme, Gimme, Gimme alongside Kathy Burke as Linda's doppelganger. The show was more surreal than ever which was quite an achievement for the series. The same year, Su starred as pirate maid Ruth in the Pirates of Penzance in a nationwide tour alongside Gary Wilmot. This show was going to go to the west end due to its popularity, however all the theatres were booked so it came to an end. This meant however that Su is available to star in Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues at the Ambassadors Theatre starting in May 2002.
As for her private life, Su married Peter Keogh in 1984, but is now happily single and living in Islington, London in a converted warehouse which she bought for £90,000 in 1985. Whilst on tour her mum, Hilda, who now lives in Skegness comes to clean it once a month. The decor of the house is very showbiz having the walls covered with posters of performances which Su has starred in, and even having a playroom filled with old stage costumes.
Television and Film Credits