2 Oct 1976 – Series Five (4)

Balancing act Peter and Linda were The Leaways from Sussex.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Heat four of series five saw regulars Lionel Blair, Mickie Most and John Smith joined by a new face the judges panel. They were joined by Muriel Young, the former TV presenter, radio Luxembourg disc jockey and producer of Granada TV shows such as music shows Lift Off with Ayshea and Shang-a-Lang.

The seven new acts were; 

  • Redwood (four-piece group) from Glasgow
  • Trinity (three-piece harmony group) from Co. Kildare, Ireland
  • James Pacer and Pattern (five-piece group) from Cheshunt, Herts.
  • Marie Sherry (comedy vocalist) from Scotland
  • Don Reid (comedian / impressionist) from Crewe
  • Gypsy Jim Lee (vocalist) from Surbiton, Surrey
  • The Leaways (acrobat duo) from Sussex
Winning group Redwood from Glasgow. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The winners of the show were Glasgow group Redwood, who had just completed a long season at the Flamingo nightspot in Jersey. They booked themselves a place in the first All Winners Show of the series on 30 October 1976. In 1977 they released their debut single Give It To Me on the DJM Records label.

Scottish vocalist Marie Sherry. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Scottish vocalist Marie Sherry was just four-feet nine inches tall but had a great sense of humour and a big voice. The pint- sized songstress was under the guidance of her manager John Day of Top Talent Agency. Having made a name for herself following her TV appearance Marie undertook a continental tour plus a six-month engagement at the Stardust Hotel, Las Vegas and shows in Boston, USA. Marie also entertained the troops in Northern Ireland.

32 year-old comedy impressionist Don Reid had been performing since the mid-sixties when he was a member and the manager of the beat group the 4 Mods. Back then Don was performing under his real name, Adrian Burrows, and was the vocalist and guitarist of the four-piece group.

The line-up of the 4 Mods was completed by Brian Swaby (lead guitar), Cyril Hole (rhythm and bass guitar) and Derek Morgan (drums). Adrian and Cyril had both been in the South West Cheshire Boy Scouts together and had both been in the cast of the Crackers 1959 comedy sketch show.

Comedy duo Don & Eric Reid. Image: Adrian Burrows (Don Reid) Facebook

When 4 Mods group folded, around October 1964, Adrian, Cyril and Derek formed a new group, The King B’s. At the same time Adrian was working as a gas fitter for the North West Gas Board. In January 1965 Adrian performed the best man duties at Cyril Hole’s wedding. Later in 1965 Adrian formed the comedy pop trio This, That and the Other, with Eric Bailey and Keith Haynes.

Once the group folded, with Eric and Keith going back to their ‘proper jobs’ Adrian changed his name to Don Reid and became a professional comedian performing for a brief time with Eric Bailey again, who took the name Eric Reid in their double act.

He ended the 70s appearing in Dick Whittington at the Arcadia Theatre in Llandudno in 1978 and Aladdin, as Wishee Washee, at the Palace Theatre in Morecambe in 1979. Don spent the 1980s and early 1990s in many summer season shows. He starred in the 1980 Summer Showtime, with Russ Conway and Derek Batey at the Arcadia Theatre, Llandudno, where his effervescent personality and original style of humour, combined quick fire impressions with hilarious anecdotes to leave audiences rolling in the aisles.

Comedian and impressionist Don Reid from Crewe. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

In 1983 Don’s Summer Revue ’83 at Goreleston Pavilion gave the venue it’s best show since the borough council, owners of the Pavilion, decided they would no longer promote a show but simply rent out the theatre. Don Reid was only the second producer to take up the tough challenge and his company were able to provide a good show, two in fact since they did a midweek change of programme. Don Reid was the backbone of the show with his marvellous gift for ad-lib and oneliners. He followed up this show with two successful season in Morecambe in 1984 and 1985.

In 1984 Don was one of the acts on TV’s The New Comedians where he appeared alongside other former New Faces acts Mike Lancaster and Tommy Sutton and also in the line-up was Phil Walker, son of Roy Walker. Phil would go on to make his own New Faces appearance in the final series of the Central TV revival of the show in 1988.

In November 1993 Don suffered serious injuries to his neck and stomach and spent 24 days in a coma having been involved in a road accident. His injuries were so severe that ambulancemen, police and doctors all treated the crash as fatal and one newspaper even posted a posthumous tribute to the Warrington comedian. Against the odds the comedian survived and took the press coverage in his stride claiming, ‘I know I’ve ‘died’ a few times in Wigan, but printing that obituary was going a bit far.’ Seven months later, still only 85 percent fit, he was headlining a summer season at Whitby Spa Theatre and the Sun Lounge in Filey, both shows produced by Nick Thomas, of Tommer Puppets fame (show 3.22 & show 3.25).

Don Reid ended the century with an appearance on the 1999 Royal Command Performance and now works extensively on the after dinner circuit and cabaret circuit. He is also always in great demand for corporate events, rotary dinners, round table dinners, cruise ship entertainment and golf day dinners. Since 2000 Don has worked on Fred Olsen Cruises as a comedian and presenter and has appeared in many pantomimes, holiday camp cabarets and summer shows in a career that spanned over 50 years.

In constrast the Marie Sherry the elegantly dressed romantic singing Romany, Gypsy Jim Lee, was a towering six foot three inches tall and was hoping that after his appearance he would crossing his palm with silver and gold discs. Jim’s real name was Michael Angelo and he had recently gone solo having performed with his wife Loretta (Lauria) Lee.

Romantic singing Romany, Gypsy Jim Lee. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Jim was directly descended from a romany background, his great grandparents being the famous Lees from Devils Dyke, Brighton. He was the Great-grandson of Gypsy Rose Lee and is descended from the family who came from Egypt in the 16th century. Even before his appearance on the show, he had secured bookings in Malta, cruises, and a series of one night stands all over the country at top clubs.

He had previously completed six-years in the Merchant Navy, and two years in Malaya, fighting terrorists in the jungle, where he was also a heavy weight boxing champion for the Army. After his successful appearance on New Faces he did fantastically well in cabaret. He made regular fortnightly star appearances at the Palladium, Rockley Sands he also appeared at Kings Country Club,Eastbourne and completed a successful tour of South Wales where he received standing ovations every night.

In 1979 Gypsy Jim Lee was one of three former New Faces acts to provide support for the Ted Rogers Show at Croyden’s Fairfield Halls. Joining him in the support line-up were singer Janice Hoyte (show 3.21) and comedian Freddie Stuart (show 4.28).

Despite not winning the show the judges seemed to like Jim’s act. Muriel Young described Jim as having ‘enormous style, he’s a knock-out.’ Mickie Most said that ‘his voice is good, his image is one of the best things, and he’s better looking than Tom Jones.’ Bailey’s club owner John Smith said that he would certainly book Jim for his clubs and Lionel Blair said that Jim could ‘cross my palm with silver any time.’

The unique balancing act The Leaways were Peter and Linda who went on to win the Speciality Act of the Year in the South Coast Award Winners show of 1987. They were a very polished acrobat duo and they developed their act to incorporate a lot of audience participation including Peter’s eight man lift.

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