26 Jun 76 – Series Four (28)

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The viewers panel winners were the four-piece group Birth. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

For the second time in a few short weeks there was a female judge back on the panel, with impressionist and comedian Janet Brown making a return to the show to add her views. She was joined by George Elrick, John Smith and Mickie Most.

The seven new acts who performed for the panel were;

  • Birth (four-piece group) from North Devon
  • Buzz Sound (vocal / guitar duo) from Liverpool
  • Christine Evans (vocalist) from Harrow
  • Frank Leyton (vocalist) from Manchester
  • Freddie Stuart (comic) from Bedford
  • Campbell and Reid (country & western duo) from Hampshire
  • Hoppy Horton the Hillbillies (four-piece comedy group) from Weston-Super-Mare

The professional panel placed Manchester vocalist Frank Leyton top of the scoreboard and he would be seen again on the next All Winners Show the following week.

The viewers panel, once again, disagreed and they chose North Devon group Birth as their winner, but they would not be seen again until well into series five, when they appeared on show 23.

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Show winner Frank Leyton would go on to make three appearances in this series. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Frank Leyton, formerly known as Frank Barrie, had worked solidly around the London area in the early 1970s. Frank’s first success went as far back as 1968 when, at fifteen, he was a member of the Frank Barrie Duo and was a prizewinner on Granada TVs Firstimers Talent Contest. He had also toured very successfully in Romania with the pop group Middle of the Road.  In late 1975 Frank had finished third in the semi-finals of the Pub Entertainer of the Year contest at the Century Hotel, Wembley.

Later in 1976 Frank could be heard singing with Alyn Ainsworth and the Radio Orchestra on BBC Radio 2, which would be one of many appearance on BBC Radio. For the pantomime season 1977-78 Frank appeared as Prince Charming in the production of Cinderella at the Swansea Grand, which also featured Clive Dunn as Buttons.

In the summer of 1979 Frank appeared with Lulu, Rod Hull and Emu and New Faces finalist from series three, Al Dean in the Startime ’79 show at the Winter Gardens in Margate.  At the end of 1979, after completing more BBC Radio 2 recordings, Frank was back in pantomime, starring with Jim Davidson, Melvyn Hayes and The Krankies in Babes in the Wood at the Bristol Hippodrome.

In the summer of 1980 the two New Faces winners were back on the same stage again when Frank was the support act for Jim Davidson’s summer shows at the Britannia Pier, Great Yarmouth.  Shortly after the show closed at the end of August, Frank was fulfilling international dates in Central America for Combined Services Entertainments.

One of Frank’s highlights in his live show was his medley of Neil Sedaka’s hits, which really suited his voice.  Video recordings of Frank singing the Neil Sedaka song The Hungry Years can be seen on You Tube, along with footage of him singing the Frank Sinatra hit That’s Life, both recorded at La Scala, Peterborough in the early 1980s.

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Hoppy Horton and the Hillbillies on New Faces. Image: You Tube

Birth and Hoppy Horton and the Hillbillies were just two of six acts from T.E.N.K. Entertainments management to appear on New Faces in recent weeks, with Earlene Bentley, Cornell & Day, Livingstone and Pride also being represented by the same team.

Hoppy Horton and the Hillbillies were Scott, Colin, Tony and Tom and based on the video uploaded to You Tube I have concluded that they sang the song Drink The Mountain Dew when they appeared on this show.

It seems that Hoppy Horton had many changes of band line-up and name in the years following this appearance. There are entertainment listings referencing the act as the Hoppy Horton Duo (1988), where they were described as a ‘West Country Chas ‘n’ Dave with country music overtones’, Hoppy Horton and the Saggy Bottom Boys, Hoppy Horton and Shalako (1994) and just plain old Hoppy Horton (1987-1990).

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Harrow vocalist Christine Evans appeared on Romanian TV in the late 60s. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

30 year-old Christine Evans trained as a singer in Kenton, Harrow and had performed in cabaret work and in night clubs all over the country performing with stars like Jimmy Tarbuck and Lulu.

Christine was one of the first British artists to appear on television behind the Iron Curtain when, in 1967, she appeared on Romanian TV. While in the country she also recorded songs and played a leading role in a documentary film.  Her TV performance was seen by around 15 million TV viewers, mainly in Russia. Her final stage show in Romania had to be cut short due to the over-enthusiasm of the fans who tried to storm the stage.

Two years prior to her appearance on the show Christine had started a three month engagement in South Africa, topping the bill in cabarets at three large hotels in major cities, each for a one month period. She was also heard on BBC radio in the UK having recorded quite a few numbers for them before her South Africa dates.

Just twelve months before her New Faces appearance Christine was entertaining troops in the Indian Ocean, performing in a comedy show on the Island of Gan.  She also played a show with Ken Dodd for troops in Ulster and later in 1975 played shows in Hong Kong and Cyprus.   Christine was represented by the Sylvia Hughes Casting Ltd and thanked songwriter Paul Curtis, who I can only assume wrote the song she performed on the show.

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Liverpool duo Buzz Sound on New Faces. Image: Trinity Mirror. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited.

The Liverpool duo Buzz Sound were 28 year-old bricklayer Billy Warwick (vocalist) and 29 year-old surveyor Lee Williams (guitarist). Both artists had seven years experience performing a various groups but had only being playing together for around a month when they appeared on the show.  Their usual stage act consisted of a mixture of Tamla Motown and ballads, with influences from The Four Tops, The Drifters and Real Thing.

The pair has played together in the 1960s in the Buzz Sound Trio, but had each gone off to do their own thing.  They were reunited when performing with different bands at the Maghull Country Club, but when Billy’s backing group failed to turn up, Lee stepped in and they were well received. New Faces producer Albert Stevenson and director John Pullen were in the audience and the duo were asked to appear on the show.  1976 was a good year for the duo as in December they also scooped top prize of £1,000 in the A Star Is Born Talent Competition run by the Wilderspool Leisure Centre, Warrington.

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Comedian Freddie Stuart. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Comedian Freddie Stuart was managed by Surrey’s Wally Dent who also looked after show winner Frank Leyton as well as comedian Jim Davidson, who had already booked his place in the series Gala Final back in March 1976.

In December 1977 Freddie secured a Christmas season with the David Nixon Show at the Theatre Royal, Brighton. Freddie Stuart was given the unfortunate job of warming up a particularly cold crowd, but eventually his wide grin, cheerful manner and assortment of gags thawed the audience, but he had to work hard to win them over. This warm-up act was his only appearance except for a song with David Nixon at the end of the show.

Freddie continued to work in venues across the country and also appeared with Ernie Wise and Esther Rantzen in a special show at Buckingham Palace. He also had success abroad with shows in the Persian Gulf, Northern Ireland, Cyprus, Gibralter, Sweden, Central America and the Island of Gan in the Indian Ocean.

In early 1979 Freddie recorded a spot on Granada TV for John Hamp‘s The Comedians TV programme. He also seems to have inspired his daughter, Laurie Lane, to take up comedy too. In late 1979, aged sixteen, she started out with her own comedy cabaret routine which included portraits of a series of characters, woven around the narrative of a housewife named Ethel.

In October 1984 Freddie supported Cockney duo Chas ‘n’ Dave who were the perfect match for his act which had been developed on a barrow boy theme, combining East End market chat with quick-fire gags.  He would perform with them again on a show at Guildford Civic Hall in May 1992 when another good old Cockney act, singer Joe Brown, was also on the bill.
To give you an idea of the kind of material he used, here is one of his jokes which he performed at a Police Sports and Social event;

This lady went to the doctor with a baby. She said it cried all the time. The doctor thought the baby looked undernourished, and asked the lady to strip to the waist so that he could examine her. After spending some time on a careful examination, he pronounced his bewilderment. She was obviously in no condition to feed the child. 
“No.” she said. “I’m its grandmother but do carry on.” 

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