It was too tempting to resist when she spotted Hi de Hi! star Su Pollard sipping tea at a Wellington cafe.
"Hi de hi," Helen Chell said leaning in, apologetically interrupting this interview.
Pollard's reaction was instant: "Ho de ho."
Those of the right age will recognise the exchange as the catchphrase said to campers at a fictional campground in the popular British comedy Hi de Hi!.
Pollard, the star of the long-running sitcom, in which she played Peggy Ollerenshaw, is in town to promote Annie, the touring British stage show she stars in, which is coming to Wellington next year.
But despite Hi de Hi! wrapping in 1988 after eight years, all roads lead back to it and, particularly "Hi de hi, ho de ho."
The greeting - and response - has become part of Pollard's day-to-day life, but a part she takes with joy.
"You have to say ‘ho de ho'. Can you imagine if I didn't say that? They would be a bit upset I think."
Failure to acknowledge people's recollections of Hi de Hi! would be to invalidate their own memories, she said.
But she is here to talk about Annie, a musical about an orphan in which she plays the character Miss Hannigan, described as the "dastardly gin-soaked" orphanage principal.
The British production will be auditioning for New Zealand girls to play Annie and the other orphans in the rags-to-riches tale.
Hopefuls needed to have a "magic voice", acting ability, aged roughly 11, and the ability to "break your heart", Pollard said.
Annie's trademark red, curly hair was not a must as a wig could be worn.
"Someone dyed their hair but it didn't work out, it went green."
Annie is on at the St James Theatre in Wellington from May 23 to June 8, then heads to Auckland where it is at The Civic from June 13 to July 6.
- The Dominion Post
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