Best known as Hi-De-Hi’s Peggy, Su Pollard has actually carved out a far longer career as one of pantomime’s finest and funniest wicked queens. Anna Morell caught up with her to find out just how wicked she really is.
AM: You’ve been doing wicked queen roles since 2002…
SP: Yes, I ‘spose I must have been doing them for at least ten years. Blimey, is it? Oh! Ooh just a minute… I must have been doing them for at least ten years… Ooh it must be true then!
AM: Do you get more wicked every year?
SP: Now that’s an interesting question, that, to be honest, because, I think the more you do a role, because, whatever the dialogue is, mostly the story’s the same, you’ve got to stand in front of a mirror, be really mean to Snow White and try to seduce the prince, so you do kind of… you can, say: ‘oh that’s good, but I reckon you can change that line’, and you can make it a little bit more nasty. If you work on a show two or three times, you can get the perfect format for the dialogue. I’m happy with what the wicked queen says.
AM: When you say you’re happy does that mean you’re going to be ultra mean?
SP: Oh yes, probably!
AM: Will there be crying children…?
SP: Oh I do hope so! Otherwise, I’ll think I’ve failed!
AM: Are you going to sing ‘Starting Together’?
SP: No! No I don’t sing that because really, I think Snow White and the prince would probably sing that. I mean, they won’t sing it, but I enjoyed that. I still get asked to go to weddings and sing that.
AM: I’ve heard the dwarves have a reputation for hard partying. Do you take the lead or keep up with them?
SP: Keep up with them. But maybe not when we’re doing the 10.30 shows in the morning, because that’s probably, you know, that’s probably an ask too far, cos I mean you’ve got to be ready in that theatre by say, nine o’clock, half past nine, made up. You’ve got to be up at seven or even earlier. You need to give the same performance at ten as you do at seven.
AM: What is really in your poisoned apples?
SP: I would imagine it’s probably, codeine, laced with, um, what’s those herbs that taste horrible? It’s eye of toad, and then a glob of snot, all mixed up, because I do this poem, and then I say, um, Beckham’s boots, and Posh’s face, I try and make something up all the time.
AM: How method are you going with this role?
SP: Oh, Lee Strasberg. Definitely. Basically, I like to be as sincere as I can in a role like this. People need it. They deserve it. For example, I don’t mention Hi-De-Hi til the end. We’re not doing Hi-De-Hi. We’re doing Snow White. I get quite strict about that, to be honest.
AM: So you becoming a wicked queen has nothing to do with failing as a yellow coat?
SP: You might be right! Actually yeah! She might have thought, this is the second best thing! I could be a queen and get my own back on people!
AM: My little girl wants to know, do you have bad dreams being so wicked?
SP: Errrm, no! No I don’t! Because I don’t think I am wicked, you see. She mentions that she is, but in her eyes, she thinks Snow White is such a prissy little madam, you know, that all she thinks she’s doing is shouting at her.
AM: What do you, Su Pollard, love most about panto?
SP: Absolutely taking that audience on a journey. You can really see… you know, you can hear a pin drop. Every element in it, you can see the audience enjoying. They love shouting out and saying things. It’s just a lovely interaction, watching them join in. They can’t do that with Shakespeare. It’s really nice, that is. I love that.
Su Pollard is in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves at the Tunbridge Wells Assembly Hall from 9 December to 2 January.