Northern Ireland news

Renowned Belfast actress Eileen Pollock best known for 'Lilo Lil' role remembered as 'extraordinary woman'

Eileen Pollock pictured on set during filming of BBC comedy Bread 1991 where she played Lilo Lil. Picture by Don Smith/Radio Times/Getty Images
Seanín Graham

A BELFAST actress catapulted to stardom for her portrayal of 'Lilo Lil' in the 1980s hit television show Bread has been remembered as an "extraordinary woman" following her death in London.

Eileen Pollock (73), known as 'Polly', was also a giant in Northern Ireland theatre both on and off stage and was part of the trailblazing Field Day, Charabanc and DubbleJoint companies.

But it was the role of the 'harlot' in Carla Lane's comedy series about the Liverpudlian Boswell family - which drew audiences of 21 million - between 1986 to 1991 that led to overnight fame as she played "the other woman".

Veteran actor Dan Gordon, who was her co-star in the hugely successful Marie Jones play, Women of the verge of HRT - he played her pin-up Daniel O'Donnell - said there was much more to the actress than her "tremendous" talent.

"We used to call her 'Polly's People' because she picked up all the waifs and strays along the way and would never see them stuck. She'd meet someone in the town when we were on tour and say, 'they're down on their luck' and would bring them to see the show and buy them a drink afterwards," he said.

"I worked with her a lot of over the years as our paths crossed - there was another Marie Jones The Government Inspector with Sylvester McCoy - but Women on the Verge was great as we toured so much.

"She was great fun and the one thing I remember is that I never saw her angry. I never once seen her cross with anyone. She was an extraordinary woman, a beautiful person."

Born in Belfast, Pollock studied languages at Queen's University and had a rising career as a technical translator in London.

"I could have been a Eurocrat with a porsche in every European capital city," she told The Northern Echo in 2004.

A prolific stage actress, her multiple credits and extensive touring took in Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, Three Sisters, Saint Oscar and Peter Gill's As Good a Time as Any.

After a stint in the political theatre company Belt and Braces, she felt it provided too few roles for women so founded Bloomers and later Camouflage, writing several plays.

And she became part of a storytelling and painting project with the artist James Foot, which was staged in Athens in the early 1990s.

Film work included Angela Ashes with legendary director Alan Parker as well as Far and Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, while television work also flooded in with numerous appearances from Taggart to The Bill.

However, it was as the mistress of Freddie Boswell for which she will be forever synonymous and one that she relished.

"I disbelieve actors who say 'I want rid of that image' because people will always remember me as Lilo Lil and it's wonderful. I like it when someone says in a supermarket 'you know who you remind me of, don't take offence, that tart from Bread'."

She died peacefully in her London home on December 19. She is remembered by her family as an "actor, writer and storyteller" and "dear sister, loved aunt and great aunt".

"Your beauty, laughter and loving eyes gave joy to all," her family wrote.

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