The panel providing their expert opinion for heat four were Ted Ray, Clifford Davis, Mickie Most and John Smith.
The week this show aired, producer Les Cocks, published a plea for comedians and speciality acts to apply to appear on one of the future shows of this series. He stated there had been a shortage of quality acts in those two categories from the country-wide auditions.
The seven new acts making their television debuts that the judges critiqued and scored were;
- Victoria Wood (comedy songwriter)
- Chas & Annabel (vocal duo) from Bournemouth
- Carol Christmas (vocalist) from Liverpool
- Eddie Buchanan (vocalist) from Manchester
- Wytchwood (six-piece harmony group) from Ripon
- Davy Wanda (venriloquist, unicyclist and vocalist) from Maltby
- Unknown Act (comedian)
Also listed as appearing was Eric Fields, a comedian from Blackpool, however Malcom Sweet (Wytchwood) contacted me to confirm that Eric didn’t appear on this show.
The winner of heat four, who would be seen again in the All Winners Final on 9 November 1974, was University of Birmingham drama student Victoria Wood, who impressed the judges with, Dorothy, her comedy song performance.
Victoria had been helped at the audition stage by her friend Louise Fisher, who was the make-up girl on New Faces and who knew the floor manager who was running the auditions.
She asked him to put Victoria’s name to the top of the pile which we did. Victoria’s name was called next and she nervously took to the audition stage, sang her song really quickly and ran off again, but it was enough to secure a place on the show.
Judge John Smith seemed a little confused about Victoria’s performance, stating that he didn’t think she had an act at all and then proceeding to award almost maximum marks.
Ripon harmony group Wytchwood were managed by John Holegate, who had previously managed the group Pickettywitch. Wytchwood received a great volume of postal votes, but they were not quite enough to stop Victoria Wood winning the show. After their appearance Wytchwood secured a great amount of work for John Smith of the Baileys Night Club Organisation.
The group consisted of a drummer, Hammond organ player, bass, lead and rhythm guitarist and a lead vocalist and from the show production notes it originally seemed they may have performed The Supremes hit song Reflections, however, Wytchwood group member Malcolm Sweet has confirmed the song was actually Reflections Of My Life, a cover of the Marmalade song.
25 year-old Liverpool singer, and ex-beauty queen, Carol Christmas was born on Christmas day which is where she got her stage name from, her real surname was Garside. Two years before her appearance on New Faces Carol had won the 1972 Command Show Trophy for Personality Girl Vocalist and had been touring England with her music shows.
Carol had just returned from performing in Algeria, where many UK acts were entertaining in clubs and hotels and had recently performed with series one finalists Yakity Yak at a show in Gateshead. Her performance on the show, of the song I Close My Eyes, drew a confusing comment from one judge with Mickie Most stating, ‘It’s not whether you sing in or out of tune or not, it’s what you sound like on record.’
Despite the judges comments Carol’s performance gave her a career boost and she had a full diary of booking for several years after her TV appearance. She was fulfilling month long engagement at venues like Amsterdam’s Blue Note Club but she was denied a season in Alaska entertaining oil-rig crews when her career had to take a break in 1975 for the birth of her daughter Krystal.
35 year-old Manchester singer Eddie Buchanan was also comedian and he used to manage and perform at The Windmill Club, Rotherham. He gave up his role at The Windmill in 1970 to concentrate on his solo career.
Following his appearance on New Faces Eddie released the Neil Sedaka track Going Nowhere as a single on the Dino Records label. He later secured a recurring role as a singer and actor in Benny Hill’s TV show, performing in numerous comedy sketches as well as singing with the rest of the cast.
In 1976 he represented the UK at the seventeenth International Song Festival held at the Vina Del Mar in Chile where he sang the Sheila Roberts composition Let It Be Spring.
After leaving the Benny Hill show, he toured overseas with a travelling comedy act, accompanied by his wife Susan Wilson. He also recorded a cover of the song My Special Angel and released an album of the same name, which he recorded with his wife in 1981.
Eddie sadly died at the age of 47 on April 24, 1987 in Newcastle-on-Tyne after a long illness following a heart operation. He was survived by his wife and their son, Robert.
16 year-old Davy Wanda was a young man of many talents, he could sing, ride a unicycle and perform a ventriloquist act, although it’s not clear that he did all three at the same time. Four years after his TV appearance Davy had secured a job as the children’s uncle at Warner’s Corton where he performed his ventriloquist act as well as his trick cycle show.
Davy was still performing in 1988 at a showcase in Lincolnshire where he raced up and down steep gangways on a unicycle, put the fear of death into the audience with his aggressive-looking bird and created the sort of eccentric off-beat atmosphere that audiences loved.
Vocal duo Chas & Annabel sang an ‘old time melody’ while sitting on a stool each and using hand-held microphones.
Six foot tall and weighing in a 22 stone Eric Fields was billed as Blackpool biggest and funniest comedian, but while he was scheduled to perform on the show I have been informed that he didn’t actually appear, despite his name appearing on the ATV show production notes.
Credit: Thanks to Louise Fisher for confirming the audition story and to Malcolm Sweet (Wytchwood) for details of the show, the song they performed and their appearance.
Thanks also to Jemima Laing and Paul Stewart Laing for sharing valuable information on this show.