14 June 1975 – Series Three (38)

19710729_PanchoVilla
North-east clubland favourite, Pancho Villa. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

It was a case of four familiar faces on the judging panel for this episode of New Faces. Host Derek Hobson invited Arthur Askey, Jack Parnell, Alan A. Freeman and John Smith to cast their critical eye over the following batch of seven new acts;

  • Audrey Squires (singer) from South Wales
  • Pancho Villa (comedian) from Teeside
  • Kirsten-Price (male duo) from Norfolk
  • Mike Wade (vocalist) from Kent
  • Robbie Lee (comedian) from Liverpool
  • Sparrow (five-piece group) from London
  • Owl (six-piece group) from Leeds

The winners of the show were the group Sparrow, who would appear again in final All Winners Show on 28 June 1975.  Shortly after their debut TV appearance they, in August 1975, released the single Oh Doctor.

Thirsk comedian Pancho Villa, with his slow movements, authentic-sounding Mexican voice, his lazy-paced yet hilarious quick fire humour laced with lightning punchlines and his leather suit and sombrero delivered a comedy act that was more unusual than many others seen on the show before.

19750614_MikeWade
Chatham vocalist Mike Wade, pictured with his French girlfriend, Francoise, who also appeared in the Paris show. With thanks to Trinity Mirror. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited. All rights reserved.

28 year-old Chatham vocalist Mike Wade had already released four singles by the early 1970s and had spent a year at the end of the previous decade performing in the Far East.

Having been Murray Head’s understudy in the London production of Hair he go this chance to shine when Murray was taken ill.  Producer Robert Stigwood was impressed and offered him a role in Jesus Christ Superstar in New York.

In 1972 he was to reprise the role of Saint Peter for the London production, but that was unexpectedly postponed and he took up an offer to perform the same role in Paris. His only problem was that he didn’t speak French so he had to learn the role phonetically.  He later returned to the theatre in a production of the tribal love rock musical Hair in 1974.

Just a few months after New Faces Mike was back on stage again, this time in Southsea in the Frankie Howerd show Tittertime, which also starred Lynn Paul.

19760226_AudreySquires
Welsh singer Audrey Squires. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

In May 1972 the Ammanford singer Audrey Squires decided to go it alone, breaking up the double act she had performed with her sister Margaret. Instead of working to a set routine she was able to choose her own numbers, and sang songs in the style of Shirley Bassey and Dorothy Squires.

Following her appearance on New Faces Audrey released a number of LPs  on different labels which included covers of classic such as Killing Me Softly, You Are The Sunshine Of My Life, Love Is In The Air and Can’t Smile Without You.  Her success on the club circuit during the 1970s also gave her the great honour of providing the support acts for the Harry Secombe Show and also later toured with Vince Hill.

Her huge success and many appearance north of the border resulted in Audrey winning the 1977 Scottish Club act of the year award.

19750614_Owl
Owl were Lee Jackson backing vocals, Theresa Deakin backing vocals, Bob Deakin lead guitar and vocals, Pete O’Grady Keyboards and Lead vocals, Ron Kelly and Ian Booth bass guitar and vocals. Image: Chris Norman

The group Owl remain a bit of a mystery. An interview with Ron Kelly on the Chris Norman website states they were based in Leeds and active between 1977 and 78 but that does not match with their appearance on this particular show in June 1975.

Ron states that they “entered the national TV Talent Contest New Faces and won our show and finished second on the Grand All Winners Show.” However, there is no news archive record that confirms Owl appeared in the series three Grand Final or won this heat.

He also remembers that one of the Judges on the show was a certain Mickie Most, although TV listings for this show do not list Mickie as being on the panel.  He recalls that they won the show with a cover of Steely Dan’s “Reeling In The Years.” Unfortunately no recordings or TV footage exists to resolve the anomalies between the news archives and Ron’s recollections.

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