Su Pollard was the first – and possibly only – woman to sing Ava Maria in hotpants in a working men’s club.

On Opportunity Knocks she sang I’m Just A Girl Who Can’t Say No, and came runner-up to a performing dog.

So when she says she’s had more embarrassing moments in her career than most people have had hot dinners, I’m inclined to believe her.

This was the girl whose first taste of the spotlight was standing on a box, aged six, to announce the arrival of the Angel Gabriel in the school nativity play.

She fell straight through the box, the audience howled with laughter and Su has been hooked on entertaining audiences ever since.

She returns to Bradford this summer, starring in rags-to-riches musical Annie.

The family show, about an orphan girl who is taken in by a billionaire, all the while holding out hope that her parents will one day return for her, started out as a Chicago Tribune comic strip in the 1920s and went on to be a Broadway hit.

Su returns as dastardly Miss Hannigan, gin-soaked mistress of the downtown New York orphanage who treats the children in her care like slaves.

“Hannigan likes a drink, but then she doesn’t have much joy in her life,” says Sue. “This was the time of the Great Depression and people resorted to desperate measures. I don’t think she’s all bad, she’s just desperate.

“I love playing her because I get some big numbers. Every time I go on stage, I just love it.”

Su stars opposite David McAlister as Oliver ‘Daddy’ Warbucks, the mega-rich businessman who takes Annie under his wing. The show’s lively score includes It’s A Hard Knock Life, Easy Street and showstopper Tomorrow.

Su describes it as cartoon-like. “It’s like panto really. It’s about good and bad – Annie is Cinderella and I’m the Wicked Queen – and triumph over misery. It’s timeless,” she says.

Born in Nottingham, Su started out in amateur theatre, aged 11. She was appearing in a production of Desert Song when she spied an advert The Stage newspaper.

“It was for people to appear in Desert Song. I thought, ‘I must go and do that’, so I went up to London and got a part. I was in the chorus though, and was very disappointed because I thought I should have got a part. I had all the parts in the amateurs! But I suppose I had to start somewhere.”

She got her break in BBC sitcom Hi-De-Hi, playing Peggy, the heart-of-gold holiday camp chalet maid who dreamed of becoming a Yellowcoat.

“Hi-De-Hi was ten years of fun,” says Su. “It had a lovely post-war innocence. People identiftied with it because they’d been on that kind of holiday.

“We’d start the day with a cup of tea from a big urn, and we’d be killing ourselves laughing as the scripts came in.

“I suppose we knew it would do well because (writers) David Croft and Jimmy Perry were already a success.”

Think of Su Pollard and you’re likely to think of someone in zany specs, wearing all the colours of the rainbow.

But she’s more than just a larger-than-life TV personality. Her long and varied career has included shows such as Me And My Girl, Sweet Charity, Pirates Of Penzance and Alan Bennett’s Habeas Corpus. She has recorded albums, performed as a cabaret artist and toured one-woman shows.

“What I’d really like is to do a fabulous musical with a fabulous story that makes you cry and laugh, one that everybody is going to be gobsmacked at,” says Su. “In my opinion the only person that ever achieved that was Barbra Streisand.”

Su cut her teeth as a singer performing for tough crowds in working men’s clubs. “There aren’t many of those left now. Kids want to be celebrities overnight,” she says.

“I thought the saddest thing was that more people voted for X Factor than for who was going to run the country. Where does that leave us?”

Down-to-earth and chatty, Su credits her greatest achievement as “being grounded”.

“I like to think I’m approachable, I allow myself to be because if it wasn’t for them (the public) I wouldn’t have a career,” she says.

“I think people like the idea that they can be just like you, they’d like to do what we do and bring people pleasure. People bring me a lot of pleasure just by talking to me.

“I think everyone should have kindness, it goes such a long way.”

* Annie runs at the Alhambra from September 6 to 10. For tickets, ring (01274) 432000.