New Faces returned to TV screens for a fifth series on 11 September 1976 with a whole new set of rules and programme changes.
One main change was the Star Quality category was dropped and replaced with a new Entertainment Value category. It was hoped that this would benefit those acts that were a professional and entertaining act but, because of the nature of the act, had little chance of reaching stardom.
Producer Albert Stevenson also believed that he would be able to book a much wider variety of acts, including speciality acts, and this would give the programme a wider appeal. Other main changes included;
- Acts could now appear if they previously had been seen on TV longer than two years ago.
- A Near Misses Show replaced the former Viewers’ Winners Show, with the viewers’ panel dropped. This allowed an act which didn’t win on a given week but scored higher marks than a winner in another week to be considered for the Gala Final.
- The regular group of professional judges was also extended to include more people concerned with the backstage elements of show business. Agents Tito Burns and Peter Prichard and Granada’s producer of children’s programmes, Muriel Young were a few of the new additions to the judges panel for series five.
Despite the changes the professional panel for the opening show had a familiar look to it with Alan A. Freeman, Shaw Taylor, Lionel Blair and Mickie Most joining regulat host Derek Hobson to watch seven acts, all classed as Near Misses, returning from the previous series;
- Candy Rock (vocal trio) – show 4.13
- Ray Morgan (vocalist) – show 4.5
- Michelle and Myles (comedy vocal / instrumental duo) – show 4.23
- Sheer Delight (female vocal trio) – show 4.13
- Chris North & Jill (comedy illusionists) – shows 4.16 & 4.22
- Frank Yonco & The Everglades (six-piece country & western group) – show 4.20
- Simone (vocalist) – shows 4.18 & 4.22
The clear winner of the first show of series five was Simone, the smokey voiced singer from Exeter, who had already been a show winner in series four. Simone won by a convincing 17 points and became the first act to book their place in the Gala Final at the end of the series.
Judge Alan A. Freeman described Simone as the most talented singer he had ever seen on the show, and the remaining panellists were simply reduced to just one word ‘terrific.’
Following her success on the show Simone was booked to appear in cabaret at the Haifa Theatre Club in Israel for the whole month of November 1976. The Devon housewife and mother, was also signed to Alan A. Freeman’s newly formed Spiral record label. Spiral were formed by Alan A. Freeman President Records chairman Eddie Kassner and songwriter/producer Harold Spiro. three big names in the music industry.
Michelle and Myles were a successful Leeds-based husband and wife act. They squeezed a tremendous amount of variety into their normal forty minute stage act. Michelle’s impressions, rare to see for a female artist, delivered true-to-life impersonations of stars such as John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart, all accomplished with a good amount of comedy in her performance, with excellent vocals and a very energetic ‘Roaring Twenties’ dance routine.
Michelle’s husband Myles provided some of the musical backing, joined in with sing-alongs and also demonstrated his talents as a multi- instrumentalist. During their career, they performed before audiences of all nationalities, entertained on US bases throughout Europe, on cruise liners, summer seasons and at practically every major cabaret venue in the UK.