5 July 1975 – Series Three (41)

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International Illusionists Paul Vernon and Glen (Holmes). Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Joining Derek Hobson for this heat were judges Jack Parnell, Jimmy Henney, Martin Jackson and making his New Faces panel debut was Norman Vaughan.

Looking to impress were the following seven acts;

  • Paul Vernon & Glen (illusion act) from London
  • Peter Eden (vocalist) from London
  • Ofanchi (six-piece group) from Liverpool
  • Jacqueline Renay (female vocalist) from Warwickshire
  • Steve Cockburn (vocal / guitarist) from Essex
  • Robbie Dee (comedian) from Liverpool
  • White Gold (comedy / impressions group) from Warrington

Show winners Ofanchi, who sang Bridge Over Troubled Water, were were originally billed as Blackwater and had only formed six weeks before the show. They featured brothers Edmund and Joe Ankrah and Joe’s wife, Leslie. Their name was chosen as it was the Edmund’s middle name and a West African name meaning ‘forgiveness.’

Ofanchi had formed from the split of the Liverpool group The Chants. The Chants singer Eddie Amoo joined another Liverpool soul group, The Real Thing, who finally found UK chart success with You To Me Are Everything.  Ofanchi would be reunited with their former bandmate when they were chosen as the support act for The Real Thing when they played the Hammersmith Odeon in November 1978.

Ofanchi secured a recording contract with Pye Records and New Faces judge Tony Hatch produced their first single Sweet Surrender in 1976. Later in their career they supported Gilbert O’Sullivan when he played at Newcastle City Hall in February 1978.

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Cabaret group White Gold were the replacement act for the listed act The Millionaires. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

In a change to listings in many publications at the time the act The Millionaires did not appear on the show, however it appears that the comedy impression group White Gold replaced them.

Vocalist and guiarist Steve Cockburn (real surname of Somers) had started out as a singer/songwriter in the London Folk Clubs in the 1960s. He was spotted by a show scout and invited for an audition to appear on the show.   After appearing on New Faces Steve joined British hit pop/folk group ‘The Settlers’ and appeared on national and international TV. Steve later played alongside Lonnie Donegan, Joe Brown, Johnny Tillotson, Lulu, Don Everly and even toured with Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash and Billy Jo Spears.

On the show Steve performed one of his own songs, Mavis Brown, and the recording of that performance is one of just a few that still exist and it can be viewed on You Tube.  Steve didn’t win in the studio but once the viewer’s votes came in he was a clear winner and was added to line-up of the final All Winners and Near Misses show on 19 July 1975.

International Illusion act Paul Vernon & Glen (Holmes) went on to further their international credentials after their appearance on New Faces.  In October 1975 the mind reading duo never predicted what was on promoter Paulino Arceo’s mind but they found themselves trapped in the Philippines along with British escape artist Paul Denver and several other performers. Mr Arceo, the man holding their money and tickets, was jailed and charged with the murder of Presidential assistant Guillermo De Vega. In 1990 the Regional Trial Court of Manila ruled that Arceo was guilty of the lesser crime of homicide and he was released from prison having already served the minimum sentence for the crime.

The year following their television appearance they returned from Florida, USA to the UK to record For My New Trick for the BBC and then set off on a four-and-a-half-month tour which took them to Israel, Egypt, Iceland, Russia. Poland, Finland, Italy, Norway, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Spain. Turkey, Malta and Greece.

Vocalist Peter Eden had previously performed in the presence of her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother at the Royal Command Variety Show of 1972 as a member of The Derek New Singers in Danny La Rue’s ‘Salute the Stars’ tribute.  Also on the bill that night were Mike Yarwood, Elton John, Liberace, The Jackson Five and Ken Dodd.  He continued to perform with Danny La Rue for several years, before and after his New Faces appearance, in revue shows in the UK and internationally.

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Liverpool comedian and actor, Robbie Dee. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

After his New Faces appearance comedian Robbie Dee had bit parts, toured theatres and the club circuit with a comedy roadshow, but then in 1985 he joined Channel 4 soap Brookside, where he played villain Victor Scott. His character pulled off the warehouse robbery that saw George Jackson jailed and led to his wife Marie beginning the Free George Jackson campaign. The press followed the on-screen campaign and created a huge media hype that saw viewing figures rise, a Free George Jackson record by Blazing Saddles was released and merchandise, including T-shirts and posters, were produced.  He also appeared in the 1985 movie Letter to Brezhnev with another former New Faces contestant Eddie Ross.

Former head girl of Cheddar V.C. Secondary Modern School, Jacqueline Renay, was no stranger to success, having taken third prize as the ‘Angel on Horseback’ in the Wedmore Harvest Home parade back in 1960.  Early in her singing career she could be found entertaining the Croscombe Women’s Institute with the vocals and guitar playing, but her breakthrough came in September 1969 when she appeared on Opportunity Knocks.

Her act, billed as a French Cabaret Star even though she hailed from Bristol, delivered a sophisticated international touch with a svelte appearance in a long glistening black dress and coupled with her smoky voice and slightly aloof manner it could easily pass for a continental act.

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