PUBLISHED: 15:45 30 January 2008 | UPDATED: 11:30 01 July 2010
LIKE Morris dancing, the Monster Raving Loony Party and cheese rolling actress Su Pollard, with her distinctive voice and trademark giant glasses,
LIKE Morris dancing, the Monster Raving Loony Party and cheese rolling actress Su Pollard, with her distinctive voice and trademark giant glasses, is something of an eccentric British institution, writes Jason Goodyer.
Since making her start in show business singing in Nottingham working men's clubs as a teenager she has lent her Labrador-like enthusiasm and distinctive personality to a bewildering variety of TV and stage roles.
Her latest part sees her transported back to the heady days of her youth in 1960s-themed musical Shout! The show is set in a swinging London hair salon and follows a group of ladies on a journey that captures the rebellion, liberation and free spirit of the time.
"It was such a fabulous time. It's nice to have been a part of an era that was so exciting," she enthuses, "There was so much freedom, you had girls taking the pill for the first time, hippies and the ban the bomb business. There were lots of life-changing things going on really."
Despite nearing 60 Pollard still speaks with the wide-eyed excitement of a child on Christmas Eve and gesticulates like she has just downed 9 double espressos each containing 4 sugars.
Perhaps unsurprisingly given her own unique take on fashion she confesses to being fond of the bold retro prints and bright colours the actors wear in the show.
"I remember wearing all the so-called kinky boots and the peaked caps. It was marvellous. It was so much better than wearing the boring 50s stuff. Colourful clothes brighten up the streets up a bit and cheer people up.
"In a way it was quite daring and rebellious. Suddenly you had a bright green or orange mac that nobody had seen in their life before. It was great to be able to walk down the street and to be able to shock and the men on the building sites would whistle. It was fabulous."
Pollard is equally fond of the show's groovy soundtrack and says she remembers many of the songs from her youth.
"We've got Dusty Springfield and Petula Clark, all the old classics. It just shows you how the songs have stood the test of time. Even people who have never heard them before because they weren't even born then say 'oh, I love that music'. Because it's so feel good and so up beat."
Despite being most widely known for her role as the ditzy chalet maid Peggy from 1980s sitcom Hi-de-Hi the actress is no stranger to the stage and has starred in successful runs of countless musicals and plays.
"I started in theatre and musicals so it's always been a part if my life really.
Actually, I could have been better known for musicals. Elaine Paige and I both used to go for the same auditions but I got my break in a sitcom and she got hers in a musical.
"I'm really pleased I can do musicals because they are a special part of me. The ideal is to do a musical with singing, dancing and a good story to make people laugh and make them cry a bit and I think there are a few elements of that in this. It's good stuff."
With the rehearsals in full swing the actress has plenty to keep her busy but says she is itching to get out there and do what she loves best - performing.
"It's quite intense. I learned a dance yesterday and I've got another to do this afternoon so it's full on. You have to focus and I haven't really got any time for anything else but all the tunes are good and I do have fun singing them so I'm enjoying it all.It's great to work with some younger girls with all their enthusiasm and stuff. They are all so talented there are some great voices and I can't wait to get cracking now."
*Shout! runs from Friday February 8 to Saturday February 16 at The Churchill, Bromley. Tickets are priced from £21 and are available by calling ticket sales on 0870 060 6620.