A group of showbiz legends are given one last shot to put on a show in the variety capital of the world in new ITV show, Last Laugh in Vegas. Here, Su Pollard lifts the lid on what happened in Sin City...
Hi-de-Hi legend Su Pollard on joining a host of showbiz favourites to perform the gig of a lifetime in Las Vegas…
Every entertainer dreams of performing under the bright lights of Las Vegas. And that’s exactly what’s happens when a group of British showbiz legends head to Sin City, in Last Laugh in Vegas, starting on ITV tonight.
The five-part series follows eight of our best-loved acts as they're given one last shot at putting on a spectacular show in the variety capital of the world. The famous faces are comedy duo Cannon & Ball, entertainer Bernie Clifton, comedian Mick Miller, pianist Bobby Crush, singer Kenny Lynch, Sixties' idol Jess Conrad, singer Anita Harris, and actress and comedienne Su Pollard.
"I first went to Vegas about 30 years ago and loved all the tall buildings and bright lights but never thought I'd ever go back," says Su, best known for playing chalet maid Peggy in classic sitcom Hi-de-Hi. "When I heard we'd be putting on this fabulous show, I signed up straight away!"
Cameras follow the stars as they depart from the UK and touch down in Vegas, where they’ll live together, explore The Strip and rehearse for their one-night-only show (which will air on ITV3 at the end of the series) at The Orleans Hotel & Casino.
Here, Su, 68, reveals all about preparing for the big night…
How did you find rehearsals for the show?
"We had this lovely choreographer, who initially wanted to see what we could do and it was almost a form of bonding. Anita had great poise and Bobby Ball was mincing around. I'm not a brilliant dancer but you have to do your best. I did feel vulnerable in there because there's nothing to hide behind. You've got all your mates cheering you on but you’re thinking: 'I'm absolutely dreadful!"
Su with her showbiz pals Bobby Crush and Anita Harris
Vegas drag act Frank Marino was the producer on the show. What was he like? And what pointers did he give you?
"I thought Frank was the epitome of showbiz. He does a drag act in Vegas as Joan Rivers and he's fantastic! He knows exactly what the Vegas audience wants and he gave each of us constructive criticism – he said I needed a translator because I speak too quick!"
In between rehearsals, you get to experience what life is like for the locals in Vegas. Didn't you all have a go at pole dancing?
"Yes! We had a lady, Tanya, who would show us something different every day and, this time, she showed us how to do pole dancing. Well, Tommy Cannon was fabulous. He's got a core as strong as you like and he's nearly 80! He could pole-dance anybody into the ground – whereas the rest of us just fell on the ground!"
How did you feel about being filmed 24/7 for this show?
"We had a fabulous time but there was no let up; the cameras want to capture any kind of expression, so they were always there and only off when we were asleep. Mind you, how do I know? They could have found me snoring!"
The stars were filmed 24/7 sharing a house, in rehearsals and enjoying the sights of The Strip
And how did you all cope living together during filming?
"I wouldn't say that any of us were particularly messy. Me and Kenny were in charge of the sink, which was always full of washing up. Generally, I think we all looked out for each other."
Did you get much time in between rehearsals to see the sights?
"We were let out once and went to the gay club, which was fan-bloody-tastic! I just love that environment. All the male dancers there wore bunny ears in honour of Hugh Hefner, who'd died that day. It was marvellous."
And, as you were in Las Vegas, did any of you have a gamble?
"No, never! We had to walk through the casino to get to the theatre but we usually didn’t have the time – or the money – to stop. I was rather glad, though, because Jess had a run-in with one lady, who come up to him and said: 'You're in my seat, I've been coming here for years!'"
You were filming in Vegas when the shooting took place at a music festival near the Mandalay Bay hotel, leaving 58 dead and 851 injured. Did that have an impact on filming?
"Frank came straight round that following morning after the news broke and said he understood if we all wanted to leave. It was a very sensitive situation and very upsetting for the people of Las Vegas, who'd never seen anything like it. But we all discussed it and decided that, in situations like this, people want to be cheered up and entertained. So we knew we had to continue."
Viewers will get to see your final performance at the end of the series. How were the nerves on the night?
"I just remember it being a very long day in the lead up to it and you've got to keep the momentum going. But when you're waiting to go on and thoughts come into your head, it's tiring. And, of course, the cameras are there all the time with people asking you how you're feeling. I'd always say: 'Oh, there's excitement but it's obviously very tense'."
How would you sum up your Las Vegas experience?
"If I never go again, I have the memories for the rest of my life. I’d tell anyone to go to Vegas if they can. It was a great adventure."
Last Laugh in Vegas starts on Tuesday April 3 at 9pm on ITV.
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With over 20 years’ experience writing about TV and film, Vicky currently writes features for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week magazines plus news and watching guides for WhatToWatch.com, a job which involves chatting to a whole host of famous faces. Our Vicky LOVES light entertainment, with Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent and The Voice UK among her fave shows. Basically, if it’s got a shiny floor, she’s all over it! When she’s not watching TV, you might find Vicky in therapy… retail therapy that is!