8 Dec 1973 – Series One (11)

Charlie James. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Back on the judging panel for this episode was Clement Freud who was joined by Clifford Davis and Mickie Most.

They were treated to the following six acts;

  • Foggy (folk duo)
  • John Milner (magician)
  • George Smith (vocal/guitar)
  • Charlie James (female vocalist)
  • Bernie Thompson (comedy ventriloquist)
  • Rodell Sanders (vocalist)

Petite 4 ft. 7¾ in. cabaret singer Charlie James was judged to be the winning act by Clement Freud and his fellow panelists so would return for the Grand Final just a few weeks later.

Charlie performed a relatively new track, When You Smile, written by Ralph MacDonald and William Salter. The song featured on Roberta Flack’s LP Killing Me Softly, which had only been released four months earlier, and the following year the song was recorded and released by Shirley Bassey. Being a band singer in Birmingham meant that Charlie knew a lot of the members of the ATV Johnny Patrick Orchestra and believes that the song had been arranged by Colin Campbell.

Charlie recalls that her win came as a big surprise for show producer Les Cocks. She puts this down to her just going through the motions in rehearsals and saving that big performance until the lights come on. This sudden lift in performance plus Charlie’s lack of nerves clearly made an impression on the judges and they gave her the highest score of the night. Speaking to me about her lack of nerves Charlie said, ‘it was just a job and being nervous is just distracting from the job one’s paid to do.’

Charlie now sings just for her own enjoyment and a few years ago she released a number of tracks of her singing jazz on her SoundCloud page.

The father of two from Skelmersdale, Bernie Thompson (stage name Georgie Whatsisname),  had been in show business for nine years before his big break appearance, but it didn’t all go to plan.  To settle his nerves before his performance he drank a glass of water and dislodged his false tooth which he also swallowed so he had to do his ventriloquist act with a missing tooth.

25 year-old magician, John Milner, received some very positive comments from the three judges. Clifford Davis, a magician himself of course, said John “should get TV dates.” Clement Freud thought John had a presence commenting, he “should go far.” While Mickie Most honestly admitted, “I don’t know much about magic but he certainly fooled me.”

Credit: Special thanks to John Milner for providing the details of the three judges and their comments on this show.
Huge thanks to Charlie James for providing some extra information about her appearance on the show.

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