31 May 1973 – Midlands Trial Episode

Crossroads star Noele Gordon joined the judges panel for this pilot show. Image: TV Times 1973

An article in Television Today (published jointly with The Stage) first announced the arrival of New Faces on 10 May 1973 under the headline of ATV give chance to new talent.

TV Times asked, ‘what happens to all those people who deserve a break into show business but never get the chance?’

The one hour pilot show aired at 7pm on Thursday 31 May 1973 on the ATV network in the Midlands. Slotting the show into the television schedules just after the popular soap Crossroads virtually guaranteed a large audience.

The panel for the original pilot featured a good show business mix with composer Tony Hatch, Crossroads actress Noele Gordon, club owner John Smith and author and critic Clive James joining host Leslie Crowther to cast their eyes over ten acts looking for that one big break.

Some of the ten acts featured were;

  • Mini and Maxi (Mick and Carol Peters) from Exhall
  • Patsy Powell and the Playboys from Coventry
  • Jennifer Jones from Wales
  • Lee Clark who played the recorder
  • and a man who blew up a hot-water bottle until it burst and then sang a few lines of “Spanish Eyes”

The show’s first ever winner was Jennifer Jones, the singer from Wales.

ATV Midlands Pilot show host, Leslie Crowther. Image: TV Times 1973

The Johnny Patrick Big Band accompanied the acts in font of a live studio audience in a show produced by Les Cocks, who also spotted the talent for the show, and was directed by Dicky Leeman. The writer for the pilot show was Bryan Blackburn, who would later make several appearance on the judges panel for the network shows.

Coventry based Country music act Patsy Powell was playing shows as far back as the late 1960s with a variety of bands including the The Chaperells and The Honky-Tonk Playboys but her appearance on the show was just accompanied by The Playboys.

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