07 Jul 1973 – The Network Pilot

The Mighty Atom (Maureen Moreland). Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

On 7th July 1973, ATV decided to try New Faces with a wider TV audience, but this time with a new host. Out went Leslie Crowther and in came ATV Today presenter Derek Hobson, however the regional TV stations decided to air the show at a time to suit their schedules;

Southern – 10:45pm
Midlands – 7:45pm
London – 5:15pm
Anglia & Granada – 9:40pm

So if you lived in the Midlands, you still had time to call a friend or south coast relative on their new grey and white Trimphone to help them decide whether to stay up late to watch the seven new acts that competed in this revamped pilot episode.

The panel was reduced to just three but managed to retain Noele Gordon and Clive James from the original pilot and they were joined by Theatrical Producer Dickie Hurran, a fine mixture of television, theatre and critique if ever I saw one, or so you would think.

The panel failed to impress TV reviewer John Stirling (The Stage, 12 July 1973) who thought Hurran was disappointing, Noele Gordon was gave little in the way of useful advice and James was totally irrelevant. With Hurran being cheered, James being booed by the studio audience, Noele Gordon was stuck in the middle being professionally charming.

So who were the seven lucky acts to face the ‘pantomime’ panel hoping to make a name for themselves on this fine Saturday evening;

  • The Country Cousins (Country & Western group) –  from Kent
  • Finn and Jones – (musical comedy impressionists) –  from Leeds
  • Doris Gill -(jazz singer) – from Wigan
  • Danny and Dereth – (vocal duo) – from Liverpool
  • Peter de Wint – (magician) – from York
  • The Mighty Atom (Maureen Moreland) – (musical comedy singer) – from Nottingham

And the show winner was;

  • Trevor Chance – (singer) from Newcastle, who sang in the style of Jack Jones.

28 year-old Trevor had been spotted by Michael Grade, son of theatrical agent Leslie Grade and nephew of ATVs managing director Lew Grade, and he had injected a £10,000 promotional drive into launching his career.

The musical backing was provided by the Johnny Patrick Big Band. The show was produced by Les Cocks and Directed by Dicky Leeman.

The acts were allowed to take their cheering supporters into the recording and viewers were invited to phone-in with their choice of best act.

An article from The Stage (6 September 1973) makes reference to Peters & Lee appearing on New Faces to receive a Gold Disc from comedian Mike Goddard. This gold disc would have been to recognise the 800,000 sales of their debut single Welcome Home (UK number one in July 1973) and based on the date of the article I can only assume that they were the guest act on this pilot show.

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