With series three drawing audiences of 11 million viewers per show the fourth series of ATV talent show, New Faces, returned for a shorter 28 week run just five days before Christmas 1975, with a slightly new look. Producer Les Cocks auditioned more than 5,000 acts since series three ended in July 1974, and visited ten major cities in all parts of the country.
The fourth series introduced two panels of judges. Derek Hobson would again host each show and would introduce a main panel of experts which included previous regulars such as Arthur Askey, Tony Hatch, Ted Ray, Mickie Most, Clifford Davis and Jack Parnell and an additional panel of two men and two women drawn from the viewing public.
At the end of each show the second panel would nominate their favourite act, replacing the previous postal vote system as producer Les Cocks was concerned that postage charge increases would affect the numbers of postal votes.
If the vote of the viewers panel differed from the professional panel, then their chosen act would return for a second chance performance.
The fourth series would have a Winners Final every seven weeks and the Grand Final would again offer a prize booking at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for the outright winner.
The expert panel for the opening show of series four were Mickie Most, Arthur Askey, Jimmy Henney and Clifford Davis and they along with the viewers panel of two men and two women watched the following seven acts;
- Vince Earl Attraction (four-piece group) from Liverpool
- Noel Brookes (comedy magician) from Stockton-on-Tees
- Phil Clarke Jnr (vocalist) from Scotland
- Johnny Johnson Jnr (comedian) from Leeds
- Carol Gordon (vocalist) from Blackpool
- Harewood Magna (four-piece group) from Blackburn
- Roger de Courcey (ventriloquist) from London
The winner of the first show, with a massive 118 points out of a possible 120, was Roger de Courcey, the brilliant young comedian/ventriloquist, ably assisted by his teddy bear sidekick Nookie. They booked their place in the first All Winners Show of the new series on 31 January 1976.
Runners-up were the Liverpool group Vince Earl Attraction, who performed the Barry White hit I Can’t Get Enough. The group were fronted by Birkenhead born singer Vince Earl and also featured Liverpool songwriter Graham Jones, who would go on to make a future appearance in series six of New Faces with the group Westway.
Vince was one of the early Merseybeat musicians to start playing when he formed the Teenage Rebels at the age of 11. By 1961 he was the lead singer for Vince Earl And The Zeros who used to perform hits by Cliff Richard and Bobby Vee, before forming Vince Earl And The Talismen. Vince turned professional and swapped his frontman role for playing bass and backing vocals with Rory Storm And The Hurricanes.
When the Vince Earl Attraction started playing the cabaret circuit in the 1970s they added comedy to the act and the group continued to perform until 1977. After the group split Vince had roles in Boys From The Black Stuff and from 1990 played shopkeeper Ron Dixon in Liverpool based soap Brookside.
Roger de Courcey and Vince Earl are still friends today and share a laugh about the result of this show. Vince maintains that even if his group had won the show he’d have still moved into acting.
The four-piece Blackburn group Harewood Magna were three men and one woman vocal harmony group that also performed impressions.
There was controversy from heat one of the new series when Hughie Green, the host of rival show Opportunity Knocks, revealed in the Daily Mirror that Midlothian vocalist Phil Clarke Jnr had already previously appeared twice on his show, something that supposedly broke the rules for contestants on New Faces.