7 Feb 76 – Series Four (8)

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‘Camp’ comedy duo Huff & Puff. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

With the first Grand Final place booked the previous week it was back to regular heats in show eight and the expert panel of Jack Parnell, Jimmy Henney, Clifford Davis and Dickie Hurran cast their critical eye over the following seven acts;

  • Brandy (five-piece girl band) from London
  • Geoff Ridden (vocal / guitar) from Durham
  • Huff & Puff (comedy duo) from Yorkshire
  • Bob Reid (magician) from London
  • Alexander Forest (vocalist) from Manchester
  • The Nobodies (four-piece comedy group) from Liverpool
  • Day Lewis (girl vocalist) from London

The judging panel were unable to split the top two acts so the show was declared a tie with both magician Bob Reid and comedy group The Nobodies progressing to the next All Winners Final on 27 March 1976.

Magician Bob Reid had already tasted success when in September 1973 he beat a handful of other acts to win the close quarter competition title at the Majestic Hotel, Harrogate.

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The Nobodies in 1977 when they were performing at Pontin’s Holiday Camps.  Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Liverpool based group The Nobodies were four young men who blended zany comedy with considerable musical talent, all at a breathtaking speed. They based their comedy performance around the song There is Nothing Like A Dame.

They formed over a decade earlier by Barry Ashworth and drummer Ronnie Taylor and under the management of Hammat International had experienced a great degree of success in clubs around the country and had entertained holidaymakers at the Pontin’s Holiday camp Middleton Tower, Morecambe.

The Nobodies were yet another New Faces act that had previously been seen on TV on Opportunity Knocks, however, they were just outside the time limit allowed by the rules to allow them to appear without further scrutiny.  In December 1974 they had appeared in Sleeping Beauty at the Grand Theatre Wolverhampton alongside impressionist Peter Goodwright and singer Dana.  In late 1975 they released their Warsaw Concerto single.

Shortly after their New Faces appearances they had a couple of line-up changes and were joined by another New Faces winner, John Paul Forrest, and his schooldays mate Jon Prior.  It was with this new line-up the entered ITVs Search For A Star and were once again winners, making the final alongside comedian Jimmy Cricket.

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Comedy duo Huff & Puff appearing on New Faces.   Image provided by George Jenkinson.

Huff & Puff were George Jenkinson (Huff) and his comedy partner Kenny Hainsworth (Puff), who had been a hit in clubs with their ‘camp’ comedy double act for the past few years.  Even though he only knew three chords, a then 15 year-old George had been given his first job by Kenny as the guitarist in The Kenny Hainsworth Four and Patsy (Kenny’s sister).

Kenny also formed an act with his brother-in-law John Wagstaffe, The Vocalairs, and they were winners on Opportunity Knocks in the early 1970s.

After Huff & Puff’s appearance on New Faces they established themselves as one of the top comedy duos.  The well known Yorkshire agent and promoter Peter Bellamy remembers Huff & Puff as “totally original at that time. They brought camp humour into clubland and packed venues to capacity”. They were regulars at the Batley Variety Club, the Ba-Ba Club and many other top northern nightspots.

In 1977 they won the Best Duo award at the BBC Radio Leeds Act Of The Year Awards held at the Batley Variety Club.

When George left Huff and Puff and show business to pursue a new career in the joinery business, Kenny opened a costumes, fancy dress and novelties emporium which he named Hainsworth’s Fun Fayre.  Kenny also worked in film and TV appearing in the movie Rita Sue & Bob too (1987).

Kenny sadly died in 1998 while on holiday in the Spanish resort of Benalmádena, Costa del Sol, aged 62.

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Brandy Ooh Ya. Single Cover.

The all girl group Brandy were signed by Polydor to try to emulate the success of another all girl group The Runaways, featuring Joan Jett.  They released the single Ooh Ya in 1977 and split shortly afterwards.

22 year-old Brandy singer Jill Saward had spent the previous five years with the progressive rock band Fusion Orchestra playing hundreds of live shows, some as support for some major names, including ELO, Genesis, Wizzard and Status Quo.  The Fusion Orchestra were once banned from playing a show at Swindon Town Hall due to ‘obscene’ advertising for the show. The advert gave a detailed description of the provocative movements of Jill who was the lead singer.

Fusion Orchestra’s final live show before they split was at Barbarella’s, Birmingham which was just across the road from the ATV Studios on Broad Street where New Faces was recorded.

In 1980 Jill joined the jazz-funk group Shakatak, who are still recording and touring around the world, especially in Europe and the Far East.  Shakatak have had two Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart, “Night Birds” (1982) and “Down on the Street” (1984).

Credit: Thanks to Huff & Puff’s George Jenkinson (and his family) for providing some additional information for this show.

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