Information for this episode was pretty scarce, until I made contact with contestant Wendy Barsley.
On the panel for episode three were John Smith, Clement Freud and Evie Taylor. Mr Freud’s qualifications as a judge were questioned by one viewer, Mrs. Catherine Lynch from Kilmarnock, who wrote to The People to complain her entertainment had been spoiled by his ‘wounding criticisms of the entertainers’.
She finished her letter questioning ‘why is he there?’ and pleaded for a ‘qualified judge [to] take his place’. For taking the trouble to write she won £5.
The six acts looking for some encouragement from the judges were;
- Art Nouveau (five-piece group) from Manchester
- Anthony Waters (vocalist) from Birmingham
- Wendy Barsley (male impersonator)
- Del Cortez (guitar / vocalist)
- Velvet Night (group)
- Rebecca Knight (opera singer)
36 year-old Anthony Waters was judged to be the winner of this episode, appearing dressed in a full King Arthur costume, a role he had played in an amateur production of Camelot and delivered tender rendition of How To Handle A Woman which suppressed the usually acidic comments of Clement Freud. It’s reported that Anthony’s use of scenery and artefacts were frowned upon by some as they thought it put him at an unfair advantage, in fact to some it seemed he was destined to win the show given the attitude towards him in the studio.
Evie Taylor said he could do well in the business as a second Keith ‘Mitchell’ and her mispronunciation of the Australian actors surname amused Clement Freud. He corrected her by dryly commenting that ‘He may become a second Mitchell, but he will never be another Keith Michell. The pair also had words backstage after Evie referred to her fellow judge as ‘Clemmie.’ He took great exception to this and asked she didn’t do it again. Evie retaliated by calling him a ‘condescending Charlie’ – or at least that that is what was published.
Some years later, in an interview in the Newcastle Journal (12 March 1977) fellow judge John Smith recalled sitting between the the bickering judges, he said, ‘there was friction between them and everyone could see it on screen.’
He had auditioned for New Faces at the Birmingham Hippodrome back in August 1973 and had used part of his role as King Arthur from the musical Camelot, which he had previously played for the amateur Worcester Operatic and dramatic Society, as his audition piece.
Anthony was a Birmingham fish merchant by trade, and worked in the Birmingham fish market with regular 5am starts for the family firm of fish merchants, J Vickerstaff and Co. In the evenings he hung up his smelly, striped apron for his theatrical costumes, and starred alongside professional actors such as Alfred Marks, achieving great acclaim on the amateur stage. His day job saw him travelling extensively, seeking out new sources of fresh fish supplies in Scotland and Scandinavia and it was here he found a lasting interest in Nordic folklore.
Anthony was spotted by Crossroads’ Noele Gordon when he appeared in Brigadoon in a show in Worcester, and she persuaded her good friend, entertainer Larry Grayson to offer him a part in Aladdin at the Birmingham Hippodrome in 1974/75. Anthony began by playing the Genie of the Lamp in rehearsals, then was promoted to the role of Vizier but he finished up playing the Emperor.
On the same bill, where Anthony played the Emporer, were Larry Grayson (Wily Wishee Washee), Alfred Marks (The Wicked Abanazar), Dilys Watling (Aladdin) and another newcomer in ventriloquist Keith Harris with Cuddles the monkey.
Anthony developed a good friendship with Noele Gordon, who referred to him as ‘my Viking’, and the two were regularly seen together. Noele reportedly watched this show being recorded and their friendship may have helped him secure the role of Bill Miller in Crossroads.
Throughout his professional acting career Anthony was still the full-time chairman and managing director of J Vickerstaff and Co, often refusing roles outside the West Midlands because of his commitment to the fish market role.
Anthony married in 1986 and started a family with the first of his three children born when he was aged 51. After his retirement from the fish market, he relocated his family to Majorca but retained his links with Birmingham as well as his apartment in the city centre, just a short distance from the wholesale markets.
It was at his Birmingham apartment that Anthony died of a suspected heart attack on 10 April 2005, aged 67.
The strong harmony vocals of Manchester based group Art Nouveau performed The Lightning Tree, the theme for the television series Follyfoot. The song would become the flip side of their only single release, See You Ma, which was published by Decca Records in 1974.
The groups vocals were provided by Susan Baines (vocals / keyboards) and Howard Barber (vocals) and their music came from John Murray (drums), Terry Walsh (bass), Jerry Birch (lead guitar). They were the viewers vote winners of the show and would appear again in the first show of series two.
The group Velvet Night, who were being touted as the British Osmonds, recorded the single, Judy, for the Decca record label in 1973. The song was written by Tony Hiller, who wrote a string of hits for Brotherhood of Man and Harold Spiro, who wrote Olivia Newton John’s Eurovison hit Long Live Love.
London born cabaret, television, pantomime and musical comedy performer Wendy Barsley had been in the entertainment business since the age of about two or three years-old. In August 1970 Wendy had been the leading lady and choreographer in the Cecil Fortune/Robb Wyatt production of Wayout West at the Westerner, The Pier, St. Annes-on-Sea and in 1974 she was in pantomime appearing in Robinson Crusoe in Whitehaven.
Wendy recalls that, as an Equity member, she was paid overtime during the recording of the show due to a camera breaking down and the recording being delayed. She performed to the song The Midnight Son made famous by another male impersonator, Vesta Tilley, who performed in Music Hall for over fifty years until retiring in 1920.
Appearing in Cinderella in 1981 at the Grand Opera House in Belfast the programme notes for Wendy, who was playing Dandini alongside Frank Carson as Buttons, stated that Wendy started her career as an escapologist and also tackled bareback riding and rope spinning in her entertainment repertoire.
Wendy had also achieved great success in cabaret and Old Time Musical Hall as a male impersonator and was seen in this guise on ATV’s New Faces. After her New Faces appearance Wendy appeared on television in Dixon of Dock Green, The Goodies and Z Cars and often doubled for stars who were unable to ride.
Wendy has very kindly shared details of her fee she received for appearing on the show. Interestingly, the show is listed as show four, when it was the third show broadcast. This backs up the recollection of Pete Conway, who suggested that the show he appeared on was filmed second but aired as the thirteenth and final heat of the series, meaning that the show numbers would be one out for the rest of the series.
Wendy’s fee was paid based on regional broadcast, with the initial ATV (Midlands) broadcast earning £10 and four other guaranteed areas, also transmitting the show (London, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Rest of the Country), boosting the fee by an extra £30. Added to this contracted fee was a £12 rehearsal fee, £6 production day fee and the extra £12 overtime fee mentioned above. Wendy was also allowed to claim expenses and subsistence which added £11.90, plus second-class rail travel from London to Birmingham. Once the small 71p National Insurance was deducted this left Wendy with a show fee of £81.19. While that value today seems quite small the equivalent of the fee at today’s prices calculates at just over £1,000 for the two days work in the ATV Studios.
Vocalist and guitar player Del Cortez, real name Barry Laine, was influenced by the music of Trini Lopez and was causing considerable interest around the club circuit in the late 1960s with his act which earned him critical acclaim around the world, including Las Vegas and particularly in New York night clubs. Barry Laine was born in the Seychelles and in the early 1960s moved to England for further education and worked in Telecommunications, but in his spare time he played in Rock ‘n’ Roll bands at various venues.
Wendy Barsley remembers that Del performed with some flamenco dancers, recalling there was certainly more than one person performing. The running sheet for the show has three songs, all previously recorded by Trini Lopez, written against Del’s name, they were If I Had A Hammer, America and La Bamba. It’s not certain if all three songs were performed on the show, but clearly they were featuring during the recording and it is highly likely they were given the link to Trini Lopez.
Credit: Huge thanks to Wendy Barsley who confimed the act line-up for this show as well as providing other key information, show fees and images. Additional thanks to Jemima Laing and her Dad, Paul Stewart Laing, for providing some extra details on this show.
3 thoughts on “13 Oct 1973 – Series One (3)”
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