10 Apr 76 – Series Four (17)

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London vocalist Ray Karron. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The professional panel for show seventeen saw the return of  Lionel Blair, back for his fifth show as a judge. Joining him were regular show judges Tony Hatch, Alan A. Freeman and John Smith.

As usual the show was hosted by Derek Hobson.

The seven new acts they watched and scored were;

  • True Expression (male vocal trio) from Leamington Spa
  • Wilderspoon (four-piece group) from Bury
  • Rick and Pam Maskell (guitar / vocal duo) from Middlesex
  • Ray Karron (vocalist) from Middlesex
  • Dave Kaffey (comedian) from Maidenhead
  • Julie West (vocalist) from Royton
  • Johnny Hammond (comedian) from Hartlepool
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Johnny Hammond was a big influence on the careers of Jim Davidson and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The panel selected 46 year-old, Hartlepool born, Liverpool based, comedian Johnny Hammond as the highest scoring act of the show and he booked his place to appear again in the next All Winners Show on 15 May 1976.  As well as telling his gags he also played piano as part of his three minute act.

It’s unclear who won the Viewers Panel vote on the show as two other acts, True Expression and Julie West, would go on to perform again on the next Viewers Winners show on 5 June 1976, although True Expression expanded their number from the three that appeared on this show to become a seven-piece group for the Viewers Winners Show.

In early 1976, Coventry soul trio, True Expression,  toured the night clubs of Poland, a venture behind the Iron Curtain that was rare for soul groups of the time. They had already toured the UK as the support act for the Stylistics the previous year.

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True Expression, left to right George Austin, Vernon Clarke and Don Mayers. Image: Trinity Mirror. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited.

The three members of the group, Vernon Clarke, George Austin and Don Mayers all shared a flat in Coventry and had been together since 1973.   George and Don were originally from Leamington Spa and Vernon was from Bromsgrove.

Singer Julie West used the publicity she gained through her appearances on New Faces to find her way into West End cabaret.

Julie sang with a serene quality rather than the over-energetic and over-dramatic style of some other female singers and her strong voice was perfect for cabaret.

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1971 International Song Festival winner, Julie West. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

She had one novelty song in her repertoire, a spirited Greek number, and she had a good taste in ballads, with songs such as The Other Side of Me and Yesterday When I Was Young.

Julie had achieved international success back in 1971 when she won the International Song Festival in Gibraltar, with a song titled In My Dreams.

Rick and Pam Maskell, from Hayes, had finished runners-up in the speciality section of the St George’s Taverns Pub Entertainer of the Year in September 1974, losing out to Lee Sutton, a comedy drag act from Portsmouth.

The four-piece group Wilderspoon were from Bury in Lancashire.

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Dave Kaffey, pictured in 1980. Image: Cosy Nook Theatre, Newquay programme cover.

36 year-old comedian, Dave Kaffey, first started out performing magic after being influenced by a teacher.  When he was at school his teacher, Mr Shenfield, used to show the class magic tricks and Dave used to want to know how they were done.

Dave was caught in class playing with a pack of cards. His teacher took them off him and threw one card out of the second floor window, making Dave go down and fetch it.  After the whole pack of 52 cards had individually been thrown and retrieved Dave vowed never to bring his cards to the classroom again.  After initially refusing to give up his secrets the teacher relented and agreed to teach him some tricks and advised, ‘No matter how they discourage you, go on the stage and make your living as a comedy-magician. I only wish I had done just that myself instead of spending all my life bringing up young tearaways like you.’

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Dave Kaffey and his wife Deb, pictured in 1969. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Initially billed in a 1958 advert for his act as ‘Funnimagik,’ Dave started performing his comedy magic show presenting tricks such as producing a bird cage and then a goldfish bowl from beneath a cloth that apparently contain nothing.

He spent four years as a Butlin’s redcoat in the 1960’s before introducing his wife into the act. While Dave compèred the show and delivered jokes and pleasant songs his wife, Deb, gave an excellent display of song and dance.

They toured Greece and Turkey with this act in February 1969.  He continued to compere shows, earning himself a residency at the Blue Angel in 1970 and at the time of his New Faces appearance he was entertaining visitors at the Golden Sands Holiday Estate, Mablethorpe, for his third consecutive year.

At one time he shared an agent with Michael Parkinson which lead to him getting the job as Parky’s warm-up act for his TV chat show, where he met so many stars that appeared on the show.

Dave moved to Australia in 1982, where he now makes his home and continues his comedy magic career.  In May 2018 Dave, or David as he now prefers, appeared on a chat show on Melbourne radio station 3AW, where he talked about his long career and he also appeared a TV show called Piano Talk where he again chatted about his career and also performed a couple of impressive card tricks. You can watch the short interview in the You Tube video below.

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