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 from Hitchin
- Ray Morgan (vocalist) – show 4.5
- Michelle and Myles (comedy vocal / instrumental duo) – show 4.23
- SOS (female vocal trio) – show 4.13 – formerly known as Sheer Delight
- 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, who performed The Stylistics hit Betcha By Golly Wow, 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.
Opening the show were the female vocal trio SOS, who performed their own song Little Darling. The group had changed their name since their first appearance back on 13 March 1976, they were previously known as Sheer Delight, where they had been beaten by comedian Jim Davidson.
Illusionsits Chris North and Jill were the third act to perform and they were followed by vocalist Ray Morgan who performed the song Yesterday I Heard The Rain which had previously been recorded by Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick and Shirley Bassey. Ray performed his song on a set that featured a backdrop decorated with umbrellas.
Rock group Candy Rock were second to perform with their own song, Fantasia, which was described by Derek Hobson as ‘very much in the theme of Bohemian Rhapsody.’ The had performed the same song on their previous appearance, also on 13 March 1976. The song would feature on their second LP Kinetic Energy which was released in 1978.
The group were Dougie Kennard (guitar), Don Maxwell (bass) and Pete Buckby (drums). They were due release their LP Canned Rock which was to prompt the second name change on the show. With the release of the LP the group were to be known as Canned Rock and their bass drum carried this name during their performance on the show.
In December 1976 they released a Christmas single, Ho Ho It’s Christmas, written by Don Maxwell and was backed by How Can It Be?, written by Jim Lea and Noddy Holder from Slade.
Despite only appearing on two New Faces shows, both as Candy Rock, and winning neither, the first won by Jim Davidson and this one won by Simone, that didn’t stop the newly named Canned Rock being billed as New Faces winners in an advert for a show in Reading in April 1977. In the same advert they also claim they signed to Mickie Most’s recording company and they won the Pop Group Entertainers of the Year award in 1976 and I can’t seem to verify either claim. They did finish third in the Pub Entertainer of the Year final, where they played a version of Music by John Miles. The first prize was won by The Playboys.
Canned Rock also finished runner-up in the Pub Entertainer of the Year contest in 1977 where their version of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture was performed during the different stages of the contest.
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.
Following Simone’s winning performance were Frank Yonco and the Everglades, who had been previously lost out to young Liverpool foursome Our Kid on their first appearance back on the 1 May 1976. They performed The Walkers song, I Wasn’t Born In Tennessee.
|2||Frank Yonco and the Everglades||358|
|6||Chris North and Jill||309|
|7||Michelle and Myles||301|
Credits: Thanks to Simon McLean for the additional information, scores and images for this show