24 Jan 1976 – Series Four (6)

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Vocalist Gregg ‘Mr.Move’ Barnes. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

On the judging panel for this show were show regulars John Smith, Martin Jackson and Alan A. Freeman. They were joined by entertainer Lionel Blair, making his judging debut on the show.

  • Gregg ‘Mr. Move’ Barnes (vocalist) from London
  • Curley (six-piece group) from Leicester
  • Windmill Two (vocal / guitar duo) from Bristol
  • Piggleswick Folk (four-piece group) from Oxon
  • Tony Whyte (vocal comic) from Sheffield
  • Martoni (magic act) from Cheshire
  • Lee Harding (female vocalist) from London

Regular viewers of the show would have recognised London female vocalist, and show winner, Lee Harding‘s backing group as she had asked Monopoly, the Viewers Panel Winner from Show 4.3 to provide her musical  accompaniment on the show.

Four-piece vocal harmony group Piggleswick Folk were Madeleine Ford (guitar, harmonium, kazoo, ukelele, mellotron), Rose Ford (tambourine, kazoo, harmonium), Peter Strange (twelve-string guitar, guitar, kazoo) and Liz ‘Jumbo’ Strange (vocals, double bass, cello, occasional bones, spoons and false teeth). Originally a duo with just Peter and Rose they became a quartet in 1971 when Jumbo and Madeleine were added to the line-up.

Their name was picked because of Peter’s job as a pig farmer and they released an album of folk songs, nursery rhymes and ballads in 1975 called Pig In The MiddleLiz (Jumbo) and Peter were until recently performing together again in a band called Tumbledown Dick, but they have now retired.

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4 November 1975 – Curley won the 1975 Players No.6 Top Town Club Stars competition. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

In November 1974 six-piece Leicester group Curley had recently won the Bailey’s organised Player’s No.6 Top Town Club Stars competition, as had previous New Faces act Showaddywaddy back in 1973.  They won a £1,000 cash prize, a 10 week cabaret engagement at leading UK venues and a recording test.  They were pictured celebrating their win with Bailey’s club owner and panel judge on this show John Smith and New Faces producer Les Cocks, which possibly helped to secure their place on the programme.

Magic act Martoni, Tony Ashmore and his wife Margaret, received some harsh criticism from judge Lionel Blair, who commented that he would stand a better chance if he replaced his ‘plumpish’ wife with a dolly bird as his assistant.

It seems that Tony’s problems with ‘birds’ has plagued him all his career as in May 1972 he lost his red pigeon, one of a pair used for a transference illusion trick, with the other being blue (both were coloured with harmless dye). It was a big loss for Tony as it had taken him a year to train the bird who had escaped through an open window in the magician’s dressing room.

In October 1976 Tony was attacked by his African Eagle Owl, Bonny, who then escaped. Bonny was found and recaptured by a local schoolmaster and returned to Tony. Tony suffered yet another bird breakout in January 1977 when another Eagle Owl, with a seven foot wingspan, escaped. Police warned locals that the bird, which was capable of killing a deer, was wild and dangerous and should not be approached.

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