The previous week’s ATV Strike delayed the broadcast of this heat by one week, but when it finally aired the panel finally got to cast their critical eyes and ears over seven new acts. The list of panel members for this show is in question due to some publications listings being confused by the recent strike and a forced rescheduling of shows around this date. A review of this show in The Stage the following week refers to a comment made by Mickie Most and also specifically mentions Arthur Askey, so it’s certain that they appeared. Other judges that may have appeared include John Smith, Alan A. Freeman and Jack Parnell, but this cannot be confirmed.
The acts appearing in this heat were;
- Tom & Jean McGuiness (vocal duo) from Liverpool
- Ken Stuart (vocalist) from Wigan
- Sweeney (five-piece group) from Leeds
- Talli Halliday (female vocalist) from Manchester
- Ron Martin (comic) from Bournemouth
- Michael Barrymore (comedian) from Torquay
- Toby (six-piece group) from Bristol
Young comedian Michael Barrymore produced a performance that needed to be seen to be believed. Performing his version of ‘Whicker down under’ he stood on his head and gesticulated wildly with his legs and the panel were amused and impressed enough to award 115 points, with one final act to come. He would go on to make a name for himself on TV, regularly appearing on Blankety Blank as well as Who Do Yo Do?
Michael Barrymore later became well known through his catchphrases of “Awight!”, on making his entrance, and on Strike It Lucky, “Top, middle or bottom?” and “What’s a hot spot not?”, to which the audience would reply “Not a good spot”. In 1991 he hosted his own show, Barrymore, with a mix of guest interviews and comedy routines and in 1993 he headlined the Royal Variety Performance.
Six-piece group Toby closed the show with a performance of excellent pitch and rhythm that the panel gave a unanimous ‘perfect’ rating that shot them to the top of the scoreboard with an impressive 117 points to snatch victory at the eleventh hour by just two points.
Tom and Jean McGuinness presented a nice line in country and western, however, Mickie Most complained that they were ‘untogether’ and Ken Stuart almost matched their performance with his low-key Howard Keel style of singing. The Sweeney were pop group featuring five Leeds policemen.
With at least three of the featured acts scoring 100 points or more it was a heat full of quality entertainment. Fresh from her tour of South Africa at the end of 1974, the highly professional, yet rather breathless, 26 year-old Talli Halliday impressed the indulgent panel to score a round century.
Talli, real name Lesley Rae Bancroft, adopted her stage name in 1966 shortly before undertaking a tour to entertain American military personal who were based in West Germany. Shortly before appearing on New Faces she had undertaken a successful tour of Romania and appeared in a television spectacular in Bucharest with Jose Feliciano. She was married British heavyweight wresting champion Tony St Clair.
Ron Martin, was a very polished young comic, who had a fantastic gift for creating audience participation and in his early career was billed as ‘Mr. Happiness.’ He had previously appeared alongside puppet Sooty, as a temporary stand-in, when Matthew Corbett was taken ill during the 1970 summer show season in Bournemouth.
His own 1979 summer season was cut short when fire destroyed the ground floor of the Gaiety Theatre, Bournemouth but in 1984 his popularity earned him the sole support act for The Nolans concert tour.
In 1988 one of his jokes backfired on him. He was on his way to perform in Westward Ho and during a refuelling stop, while his driver took a comfort break, he went to pay for the petrol. The attendant asked him for the registration number of his car, to which he replied, “I don’t know, I’ve just nicked it from Sheffield and had to pull in her to fill up with petrol.” When his driver reappeared he added, “And you see that man there, well he is a burglar.”
Three hours later the joke went sour as at the end of the show, as Ron set off homewards in his BMW, he was stopped by a police blockade, and blue flashing lights surrounded him. The cashier at the petrol station had taken him seriously and had reported me to the police.