19 Jun 1976 – Series Four (27) – 100th Show

Preston comedy duo Cornell & Day. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

This show saw New Faces celebrate a century of programmes  since the first Midlands trial show on 31 May 1973.  For the one hundredth show the professional panel who assembled to judge the acts for this special anniversary show were Mickie Most, Lionel Blair, Shaw Taylor and Jack Parnell.

The show was once again hosted by Derek Hobson who introduced the following seven new to TV acts;

  • Gingham (five-piece group)
  • Earlene Bentley (vocalist) from Harlem, New York
  • Cornell and Day (comedy duo) from Preston
  • Tina King (vocalist) from Buckingham
  • Eddie Malcolme (comedian)
  • Peter Vincent (vocalist)
  • Pride (six-piece group)
Viewers Winners, Gingham. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

In a show heavy on musical acts it was the two groups that impressed the judging panels on this show.  The professional panel awarding the six-piece group Pride their highest marks securing them a place on the next All Winners Show on 3 July 1976.

The viewers panel disagreed, deciding that five-piece group Gingham would get a second chance to perform on the next Viewers Winners show later in the series.

Twelve year-old singer Tina King was never paid for her appearance. Image: Trinity Mirror. Image created courtesy of British Library Board.

Singer Tina King had already been making her mark in the profession finishing in second place in the big Talent Showcase at the King’s Country Club, Eastbourne in the April before her New Faces appearance.

Because of her young age, twelve year-old, Tina filmed her song performance of an original song written by Christine Holmes, who wrote Devil Woman for Cliff Richard, without a studio audience and had to pretend to bow to the applause at the end of her act.

She was then allowed to simply stand with the audience for the ‘live’ recording where the judges gave their comments and marks on her performance, which earned her 91 points.  Of course, the TV viewers were unaware of this at the time of broadcast, but Tina herself recalls the odd performance to nobody very clearly.

At the time Tina was represented by Peter Walsh, who also managed Mac & Katie Kisson and Marmalade. When Tina arrived at the ATV studios, Peter discovered that ATV hadn’t hired a violinist, an instrument that played a big part in Tina’s song, and immediately wanted to withdraw her from the show.  Eventually they agreed that it would be hugely unfair to do that to a twelve year-old girl, so the performance went ahead.

To celebrate the 100th show a tray of champagne was handed around the performers at the end of the show and there was a special glass of orange juice just for Tina. Tina has confirmed that she still has both her scoreboard name sign and the dress she wore along with old photographs somewhere in her loft.

Due to a dispute between Peter Walsh and a very small agency she was still under contract with, she was never actually paid for her appearance on the show.  Peter Walsh wanting to take control of Tina’s career and the agency refused to release her from the contract. Tina also confirmed that regular show judge George Elrick was also involved with her career at the time.

After her appearance on the show Tina went on to have a great career in show business later performing under the name of Kristie King.  In 1979 Kristie secured a summer season in Great Yarmouth, playing Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at Fanny’s Nightclub and Lowestoft, playing Tuesdays and Saturdays at the Talk of the East.  In 1996 Kristie appeared at The Saddlers Club, Walsall Anniversary Show, where she appeared on a bill that also included another former New Faces act, comedian Ian ‘Sludge’ Lees.

Earlene Bentley in BBC drama Gangsters. Image: BBC Broadcast

Earlene Bentley was born in Harlem, New York and began singing in local churches and later worked in the clubs in Greenwich Village.  Since arriving in the UK she had been playing cabaret dates outside of London where her opportunities had been somewhat limited.

Raised on gospel and soul, she had the authenticity often lacking in UK singers of the same genre, and her natural charm served her very well as did her stage and acting experiences gained in off-Broadway shows as well as a spell in the Israel production of Hair.

In January 1975 Earlene appeared in the hard hitting BBC drama Gangsters.  She played one of three singers who performed at The Maverick club in The Play For Today episode that spawned a further six episode series, which aired a few months after her New Faces appearance, in which she reprised her character in two further episodes.

In 1977 Earlene performed in the premiere of Michael Tippett’s Ice Break at the Royal Opera House. Just two years after her TV exposure, Earlene found she was promoting her singing talents several thousand miles away in Sri Lanka where she undertook a major concert tour, playing four dates in 10,000 capacity halls, as well as three shows in hotel night clubs.  On returning from the Sri Lanka tour she headed off to Norway for a month long concert tour.

In 1979 Earlene appeared in London Weekend Television’s Search for a Star programme where she performed Touch Me in the Morning but was defeated by comedians Dave & Amos.  In the 80s Earlene performed in stage musicals South Pacific and One Mo’ Time as well as earning critical acclaim for her performances in The Wiz, initially in Sheffield and later in the West End revival.

She enjoyed some single success in the Hi-NRG charts with the track The Boys Come to Town helped by the fact it featured in a scene in the movie Police Academy. Hot on the heels of this success were two other successful singles, I’m Living My Own Life and Caught in the Act!  In 2007 the singer and actress also appeared as a nurse from Arkham Asylum in the movie Batman Begins.

After their TV appearance comedy duo, Cornell and Day, secured a 1977 pantomime slot, playing the broker’s men in Cinderella at Ashton-Upon-Lyne .  They were joined by Ann George (Crossroads), Brian Mosley (Coronation Street),  Jack Douglas & Hugh Futcher (both from various Carry On movies) and Keith Harris (and Cuddles).

In the mid-80s Dave Cornell became one of the organisers of the Great Northern Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend, a weekend holiday that was designed exclusively for rock ‘n’ roll enthusiasts and their families.

Credit: Thanks to Tina King for contacting me and sharing her own personal memories of her appearance on the show.

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