24 Jan 1976 – Series Four (6)

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.

Promotional photograph of Leicester group Curley. Image: Thanks to Ray Percival (Curley)

Show runners-up, Curley were Paul Taylor (drums / vocals), Reg Billingham (bass), Ray Percival (sax / vocals), John Page (lead guitar / vocals), Alan Makin (keyboards / vocals) and Graham Drew (lead singer).

Ray Percival recalls that the group were told they would finish second before the show was recorded which deflated them even before they’d performed. Ray suggests that the result was openly discussed and offered the possible explanation for the decision to be linked to judge Peter Prichard who was the agent / manager of show winner Bryan Taylor.

Ray also recalls that Chris Tarrant bought him a drink in the green room and that he got a good luck kiss from previous series winner Marti Caine, who was backstage at the recording.

The group had also secured an audition for Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks, but their chance on New Faces came first so they grabbed the chance with both hands. They did still take the opportunity to audition for Hughie Green’s show but because they had already appeared on a rival show they were refused a place.

In November 1974 the six-piece Leicester group had 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.

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

While the Bailey’s success opened a few doors for Curley seeing them play at venues such as the London Hilton Hotel and Grosvenor Square Hotel unfortunately not all the promises Bailey’s gave happened with major problems within the Bailey’s organisation causing a short fall on the promotion of the band.

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.

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.

Credit: Ray Percival (Curley) for the additional information and photograph.

4 thoughts on “24 Jan 1976 – Series Four (6)

  1. Wow..This is fabulous..Great reading this ..I was a member of curley. Loved the show. And all the madness that went with it..Shame i no longer have a recording of it..Whoever’s put this together thank you..ray percival..


    1. I remember Curley from when I was 9 /10 years old and attended Braunstone working mens club every sunday lunchtime with a group of my dads friends and their kids. I remember Curley who used to pack the place out when they appeared in the evening. Does Ray remember playing the braunstone working mens club ?


      1. Hi there . Yes of course Braunstone club was one of our favourite Leicester gigs always sure of a great night with a fantastic audience . Thanks for reminding me of what it was like to work with a great bunch of lads in Curley fantastic memories of some great clubs back in the day..cheers mate..


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