The newly moustachioed Derek Hobson was once again keeping the acts in check and was joined by regular judges Jimmy Henney, Shaw Taylor and Tony Hatch plus a brand new panelist to the show.
New judge Peter Prichard was a showbusiness agent who looked after some of the biggest names in entertainment with the acts such as Bob Monkhouse, Anita Harris and Pete Murray under his management. Peter was also responsible for introducing US audiences to acts like The Rolling Stones, Morecambe and Wise and Tommy Cooper and was the European talent co-ordinator on the Ed Sullivan show, where he famously persuaded the host to book a relatively new UK band called The Beatles before they were snapped up by a rival show. The show was watched by a record US TV audience and of course launched the career of those four lads from Liverpool in the United States.
The seven new acts looking to impress the judges were, in order of appearance;
- Twice Bitten (five-piece group)
- Dave Beard (comedian)
- Ora Pasco (vocalist)
- Roger Green (vocal / trumpet)
- Flair (vocal / guitar trio)
- Libra (guitar / vocal folk duo)
- Ray Bennett (vocalist)
Sussex based group Twice Bitten opened the show and performed one of their own songs, written by their vocalist Nick Eede, called Lying Around. Joining vocalist Nick were Peter Birch (guitar), Nick Muggridge (bass), Steve Boorer (drums) and Simon Baker (keyboards).
The ATV set design team took the group name quite literally, as they performed their song in front of a backdrop of three large green apples which had been bitten, at least twice, to reveal their cores complete with pips.
The majority of the judging panel liked the song and the sound of the band but felt it was missing a certain spark and that they were missing that element of excitment that they needed to make it. The exception was Tony Hatch, who couldn’t see the issues that the other judges mentioned and he awarded them his highest score of the evening. Shaw Taylor liked the sound they were making and commented by saying ‘I think you have to have a pretty strong voice to go falsetto and get away with it.’
After leaving the group Nick had a brief spell as a solo singer before joining group The Drivers in the early 80s. The Drivers had brief success in Canada and it was there Nick met guitarist Kevin MacMichael, who was in a support group called Fast Forward. Together they formed the group The Cutting Crew for who Nick wrote and sang the 1986 UK top 10 power ballad, (I Just) Died in Your Arms, which also saw international chart success. Twelve years after Shaw Taylor’s comment on the show about Nick’s voice it was sampled and used as the opening introduction for Cutting Crew’s USA tour, repeating the last words ‘get away with it, get away with it, get away with it.’
West Country comedian Dave Beard‘s three minute set was full of derogatory jokes about his ‘fat’, ‘ugly’ missus that failed to impress the audience or the judges.
Tony Hatch thought that Dave’s act was ‘not funny’ and he felt the audience ‘laughed a little out of sympathy’ and ‘Dave laughed at lot at his own gags’ which helped fill in the time.
The other three judges totally agreed with Tony Hatch and added that he needed much better material. Their combined score of 15 for presentation and content with just 10 for entertainment value, Tony Hatch giving him just one point reflected their aligned views on the performance and ensured that Dave was a distant last on the scoreboard.
The next act didn’t have far to travel to the ATV Studios. Birmingham based Ora Pasco, who could also perform songs in Hebrew, French and Spanish, performed All Over Now in English, a song specially written for her appearance on the show. The song featured a spoken section in the middle that Shaw Taylor was not keen on and Jimmy Henney described as ‘lacking sincerety’ and it was her presentation of the song that lost her crucial marks from the judges.
In the November after her debut TV appearance Ora was voted the ‘Top Female Vocalist in the Midlands’ and had secured a booking at The Savoy Hotel in London and international shows in Malta and Naples would follow in 1977. In 1982 Ora fulfilled a six month engagement at the Hatoya Hotel in Japan, making a grand entrance descending on a giant swing, for two nightly shows performing seven nights a week. She even added to her already impressive language skills by learning, in just three weeks, three songs in Japanese which she add to her eight song set. Ora also went on to perform with both Roy Orbison and The Drifters.
A selection of Ora’s music can be heard on her soundcloud page.
Act four was singer and trumpet player Roger Green, fresh from his season as a lead singer in the Black and White Minstral Show. Roger sang and played the song Birth of the Blues which first featured in the 1926 Broadway revue George White’s Scandals.
Shaw Taylor and Jimmy Henney both suggested Roger would be likely to fair better if he were to front a Jazz band rather than try to go it alone, with Shaw helpfully suggesting that ‘the one thing you can’t do as a singer is to accompany yourself on the trumpet,’ which promoted a cry of ‘well done’ from Tony Hatch, who described the act as ‘a disappointing three minutes.’
Peter, Chris and Billie-Jo were the three members of Flair who sang one of their own songs, Listen to the Wind. After their performance Derek Hobson announced that Chris and Billie-Jo had married that afternoon and said this was a great way to celebrate.
The panel awarded them a great wedding present giving them some great comments about their ‘Flair’ and presentation and a winning score, but Tony Hatch said he wished they had picked a song with a ‘bit of zip in it.’
The folk duo Libra, school teachers Mo and Lucy, delivered a version of John Denver’s Annie’s Song (You Fill Up My Senses), both singing and playing acoustic guitar. The duo chose their name as they were both born under the same birth sign.
The panel thought that their style of music gave them quite a limited appeal and Tony Hatch suggested the they should look to move into the country folk or folk rock market. Shaw Taylor thought that adding a third female voice would give them a greater chance of success as he felt that two female voices didn’t blend the harmonies as well as a trio would.
The final act of the show was vocalist Ray Bennett, fresh from working on cruise liners in Bermuda, who sang the Gary Benson hit Don’t Throw It All Away, accompanied by a trio of female backing singers.
Shaw Taylor commented that given Ray was working 52 weeks a year on cruise ships in Bermuda and Jersey and that Shaw was working in Birmingham, London and Newcastle he was not the person to tell him where he was going wrong.
The judges liked his voice but questioned his vibratto especially stretching a short word such as ‘key’ to sustain for four syllables. His scores were not quite enough and he finished joint third alongside Ora Pasco.
Each judge had a maximum of 30 marks to award, 10 in each of the categories of Presentation, Content and Entertainment Value, and their total scores for each act were;
|Tony Hatch||Peter Prichard||Shaw Taylor||Jimmy Henney||Total|
Winning act, Flair, booked themselves a place on the first All Winners show of the series at the end of October 1976 but with none of the other acts scoring above 100 points it would be the end of their New Faces journey.
Credit: Special thanks to Chris Perry (Kaleidoscope) for additional information on this show.