13 Nov 1976 – Series Five (10)

Vocalist Mike Williams from Cornwall. Image: The Stage Media Company Limited

On the judging panel for the show this week were show regulars Tony Hatch, Alan A. Freeman and John Smith. They were joined, back for her third appearance of the series by Muriel Young.

The seven new to TV acts they watched were;

  • Dragon’s Playground (five-piece group) from London
  • Eddie Archer (comedian) from Liverpool
  • Lyn Richmond (vocalist) from Liverpool
  • Stephen Green (pianist) from Brownhills
  • Mike Williams (vocalist) from Cornwall
  • Crick’s Canine Wonders (dog act) from Sussex
  • Frankie Johnson (comedian / vocalist) from Cardiff
Show winners Crick’s Canine Wonders. Della, Lady and Trixie were Canines in a Really Indescribably Clever Knock-out Speciality.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The winners of the show were the speciality act Crick’s Canine Wonders, who had been working professionally with performing dogs for nearly twenty years. The unusual act featured dogs pushing prams and boxing dogs, who delivered the only dog fight in Britain that followed the Queensberry rules. They secured themselves another appearance on Christmas Day for the second All Winners Show of the series.

Frank Bailey and his wife Veronica (née Crick), with their seven small dogs, recorded the top score with their canine stars that were Britain’s answer to Rin Tin Tin and Lassie.

In the late 1950s the Bailey’s were performers, descended from the Procter-Sanger-Fossett famous circus families, for Winships Circus where Veronica was one of the few female clowns and performed under the name of Trixie. It was here that their Crick’s Canine Wonders act also performed and the couple also performed on the flying rings as The Barnums as well as being comedy acrobats.

Liverpool vocalist and housewife Lyn Richmond sang What I Did For Love, from the musical A Chorus Line, which was in keeping with the modern ballads she often sang during her stage show. Lyn was hoping it would be third time lucky, as she had made two previous appearances on the show, back in series three, as a member of the vocal harmony group Sounds Familiar.

Lyn had left the group around twelve months before her solo appearance but while with the group, performing under the name Lyn Mountain, they won the Viewer’s vote on show eighteen of that series. The win gave them a further appearance, in the second Viewer’s winners final, when the winner was a young Dudley comedian called Lenny Henry.

20 year-old Brownhills student Stephen Green performed Camillo Bargoni’s Autumn Concerto on the piano. These days Steve is a Consultant Physician in Sheffield and still plays the piano, although mainly only for his own pleasure.

Vocalist Mike Williams performed Let Me Into Your Life, a song that had been previously recorded by Engelbert Humperdinck. Comedian Frankie Johnson performed his short comedy routine wearing a ‘magnificent’ trilby hat.

Former Liverpool docker turned comedian, Eddie Archer, had adopted a new approach to his act only six months before his New Faces appearance. While suffering from the flu he had performed in a Manchester club and was surprised at the amount of laughter he was hearing from the audience. When he came off stage a friend told him that it was the fact he hadn’t smiled once during his act that had made it so hilarious and he decided to adopt deadpan approach to his delivery from that moment onwards.

London group Dragon’s Playground were based in Chelsea, delivered their own brand of middle of the road music and traditional Irish jigs while dressed in rhinestone-studded leather outfits. Their two female members both sang played flutes, but not at the same time, with one of them also playing violin.

Another one of their members was a young 16 year-old drummer, Brian ‘Dolphin’ Taylor, although it’s unclear if he appeared with them on the show. In 1976 ‘Dolphin’ would join the Tom Robinson Band after he drove the, now disbanded, Dragon’s Playground bass player to an audition for the group. They were yet to advertise for a drummer but ‘Dolphin’ blagged himself an audition and stayed with the band for two years, playing on their big hit 2-4-6-8 Motorway.

Shortly before their appearance on the show the group had a young flautist in their ranks called Annie Lennox, who had left before they made their TV debut. Shortly afterwards she fronted the group The Tourists before forming Eurythmics with Dave Stewart in 1980.

In September 1974 the group were one of twelve finalists in the St George’s Taverns Pub Entertainer of the Year Grand Final held in London’s West End at The Grosvenor House Hotel. In a contest of high standards they finished outside the top three, with the £1,000 prize being awarded to the South Wales comedy duo The Huron Brothers.

Appearing in a Grand Final of the Pub Entertainer of the Year clearly wasn’t enough excitement for the group, as in November 1974 the group were involved in a car chase. The group had just left a pub in London, where they had been playing, when they saw a man get knocked down and injured. Their manager, Mike Malley, jumped in his car along with the band’s bass player, Chris Staines, and they gave chase, while another member of the group called the police. After a chase of half-a-mile they managed to stop the car and hand the driver over to the police.

Credit: Thanks to Steve Green for the additional information provided for this show.

2 thoughts on “13 Nov 1976 – Series Five (10)

  1. Hi, I was “Stephen Green (pianist) from Brownhills”. At the time I was 20, and it was a fantastic – though nerve-wracking – experience. How I actually ended up playing piano on TV that night is quite a strange story in its own right! How I would love a copy of the video of the show, it it exists somewhere.
    These days I am a doctor – Professor Steve Green – and I am a Consultant Physician in Sheffield, UK. I still play the piano though – purely for pleasure – and given that we are coming up to Christmas, here is a little Xmas gem of a tune to wish everyone the compliments of the season.
    BW to all. Steve
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viP6yAaBaS4&feature=youtu.be

    PS. For the sake of completeness, that night I played “Autumn Concerto”, Lyn Richmond sang “What I did for love”. Mike Williams sang “Just let me into your life.” As for Dragon’s Playground, the wonderful Annie Lennox was up until a few weeks prior to the show the band’s flautist!

    Like

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