27 Nov 1976 – Series Five (12)

Tony Hatch, a regular face on the judges panel. Image: ATV Broadcast footage

The judges for the twelve show of the series were Tony Hatch, Shaw Taylor, Lionel Blair and Les Reed, who returned for only his second panel appearance.

They watched the following seven acts, who attempted to impress enough to finish top of the judges scoreboard.

  • Corkscrew (five-piece folk rock group) from Bristol
  • Scarlet O’Hara (comedian) from Darlington
  • Ronnie Hall (vocalist) from Leeds
  • Jeff Dillon (comedian / singer) from Liverpool
  • Linda Fletcher (vocalist) from Surrey
  • Elizabeth Foran (harpist / vocal) from Ireland
  • Two’s Company (vocal comedy duo) from Ireland
Show winner, Linda Fletcher.
Image: Thanks to Linda Fletcher

Top scorer with the judges, and show winner was Linda Fletcher who scored 111 points for her version of the Chris Montez hit The More I See You. Linda scored 37 for Presentation, with a score of 10 from Les Reed, 35 for content and 39 for Entertainment Value, with scores of 10 from everyone except Tony Hatch. Footage of this show no longer exists but thanks to Linda’s parents, who recorded the show on a cassette recorder, you can still hear her performance on this Facebook page.

Lionel Blair said Linda was ‘one of the best girl singers I’ve heard for a long time.’ Les Reed thought she was ‘tremendous’ but thought she had maybe chosen the wrong song, likening her huskiness to that of Ella Fitzgerald as well as Lulu from a commercial perspective. Shaw Taylor thought ‘she made it look effortless’ and that ‘she was superb,’ and Tony Hatch concluded the judges comments by adding that Linda had ‘all the qualities in the voice to make it’ and thought with astute handling and the right choice of songs she could do just that.

One of the millions of viewers watching at home was TV producer, Muriel Young, who requested she be a judge on the New Faces All Winners show to see Linda in real life. She hoped that Linda would be suitable for a co-host position alongside Roy North for a new TV pop music show called Get It Together. With Linda being a singer and not a presenter or actress she managed to get through a fairly shaky screen test but was still offered the presenting role which included singing songs each week with the studio band. Linda would successfully co-present the show for the next three years, eventually quitting in 1980, feeling the show wasn’t helping her cabaret career with bookers seeing her involvement on an afternoon show as a sign she wasn’t an artist for an adult audience.

Linda released two singles in 1978, the first, Angel of Love (Rocket Records) and the second, Hush (Ariola/Hansa Records), which was a minor hit. In 1995 Linda was still singing and playing bass guitar in the vocal/instrumental duo Atlantic Crossing with her husband Mike also providing vocals and playing keyboards. They had met when working in different bands and had worked together since 1973 and played live music together right up until as recently as 2017.

Liverpool comedian Jeff Dillon was the runner-up, scoring 96 points. Jeff’s routine started as he addressed the audience, in his best scouse accent, with ‘good evening you little Birmingham ravers.’ Jeff got a ripple of applause from the studio audience for his gag about the Irish pickpocket ‘who put his hand in a woman’s shopping bag and left his ring, watch, cufflinks…’ He concluded his routine with a couple of short parody songs on guitar.

Tony Hatch was the first judge to offer his views saying ‘Jeff is a very warm person, as soon as he opens his mouth, as soon as he starts to speak you like him,’ but he didn’t find him outstanding or original. Lionel Blair agreed saying, ‘he’s got the most marvellous face,’ and while he found him very entertaining he felt he was nervous.

Les Reed ‘liked him very much,’ saying, ‘he had a great delivery.’ Shaw Taylor thought Jeff had ‘star quality’ but thought his material was terrible and suggested, he should elbow the material and start again. Even Derek Hobson said he was concerned about the content, although his opinion didn’t count for anything.

Darlington based comedian Scarlet O’Hara finished third. Image: Trinity Mirror. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited.

Red-haired 38 year-old Darlington comedian Scarlet O’Hara finished a respectable third with 89 points. Her three minute routine was delivered in a broad north-east accent which presented some of the judges a few problems understanding some of the content. One of the best lines of her routine was;

‘I’ve always said lasses, when Christmas comes never get depressed, get some debt. Well let’s be honest man, we couldn’t live without a bit of debt could us. I’ve had that many shoes off me catalogue, I’m getting a club foot.’

Part of Scarlet O’Hara’s New Faces routine

Les Reed thought she had a lot of nerve to stand up and get to an audience as it is always difficult for female comedians but added ‘for the material she has, she’s very, very good.’ Shaw Taylor thought Scarlet had ‘tremendous warmth,’ and said ‘she really came into her own, the warmth came over when she was reminiscing about being kids,’ which he thought helped her routine reach the audience.

Tony Hatch had some trouble with the accent, but liked what he could understand and called Scarlet ‘a raconteur,’ but was concerned that if she won and went to Las Vegas she would need to take a translator with her. Lionel thought it was like listening to ‘Norman Evans over the garden wall,’ which given that Norman died in 1962 certainly showed his age.

Scarlet was born in Scotswood and delivered her clean cut brand of comedy that she had worked around the club circuit. Scarlet started on the club circuit at the relatively late age of 26 as a singer going by the name of Paula Dean. While her singing was alright her patter between the songs was better and around 1970 she switched to full-time comedy as Scarlet O’Hara.

At home in Darlington she was Mrs Pauleen Brennan where she was a mother to four children. She had suffered more than her fair share of tradegy in her life. She was widowed twice, her first husband died following a stabbing incident and her second in a car crash as they were driving home from one of her shows. Her fifth child was born with spina bifida and sadly died. Her father left home when she was just three years-old and when she was seventeen her mother died in her arms from Tuberculosis.  

The group Corkscrew opened the show and performed the Fairport Convention song Cajun Woman. They were Romie Singh (vocals), Pete Watson (fiddle & vocals), Pete Phelps (drums), Dave Corke (guitar) and Mike Read (bass & vocals). The group all had full time jobs with a solicitor, a couple of teachers, a tree surgeon and a carpenter in their ranks and they all had to take time off work to allow them to appear on the show. 

Bass player Mike Read recalls ‘we were the first act on and I was completely focused on the song we were about to play when the floor manager out of the blue asked us to perform another song, to warm the audience up and before we went on air. We decided on a set of fiddle tunes which were actually quite technical to play and after the stress of that I then had to switch back into performance mode for the actual song we were playing for the show.’ While the footage from the show has long been wiped, an 8mm recording of the performance has been matched to an audio recording of the same song and can be viewed below.

An 8mm camera recording and audio tape creation, but you’ll get the idea.
Video credit: ilpostino on You Tube

Who better to comment first on Corkscrew’s performance than Shaw Taylor, as Derek Hobson suggested, a man knew ‘all about bent characters and everybody being on the fiddle.’ Shaw thought Corkscrew gave ‘quite a marvellous lift off to the show,’ and he thought the violin was ‘tremendoudly effective.’ Les Reed found it quite exciting and called it ‘fun music’ adding ‘it was fun to listen to, but from a commercial point of view I don’t think it’s very strong.’

Lionel Blair also thought it was a very good opening to the show but he pointed out that the violin solo meant that you couldn’t hear the lyrics to the song as it drown out the vocals of Romie Singh, who he added ‘she looked very nice’ and referred to her look as ‘ethnic.’ Tony Hatch completed the comments by briefly saying that ‘this kind of music has seen better days, it was never greatly successful and I don’t think it has a very strong place in today’s record business.’

Bass player Mike left Corkscrew in 1978 and headed up North to work. Although Mike played in various bands for the next thirty years in his own words, ‘nothing quite reached the same heights as playing in Corkscrew and the thrill of appearing before some fifteen million viewers on New Faces in 1976.’

Corkscrew carried on playing under that name for another five years after their television debut releasing their For Openers LP in 1979, by which time their numbers had increased to six adding Will Glassby (bass & vocals) and Roger Slade (guitar, keyboards & vocals) to replace the then departed Mike Read. The group later morphed into the band Flash Harry, which is still very active to this day and still plays folk based rock music around Bristol and the South West.

American born vocalist, pictured in 1960, during his 19-week run at the New Bagatelle, Soho. Image: The Stage Media Company Limited

The American born but Leeds based vocalist Ronnie Hall, originally from Ohio but announced as being from Arizona, had a good voice and manner and handled swing and ballad numbers with equal ease. He sang the Jerry Reed song She Understands Me, which was first recorded by Glen Campbell in 1971.

Derek Hobson asked the panels songwriting expert, Les Reed, to provide his views first. He liked the song and thought Ronnie had ‘good diction’ and ‘very good phrasing,’ however he didn’t think he had ‘just that magic yet.’ Lionel Blair said the act ‘was a little lacking in excitment for me,’ but ‘he did sing it very well.’

Tony Hatch admitted he had known Ronnie Hall for about ten years, and said he was a ‘very, very nice singer, very stylish, sings beautifully, but hasn’t sort of developed whatever it is to make it really big,’ but he hoped he would make it one day. Shaw Taylor agreed that the magic wasn’t there and couldn’t decide if it would come with more experience or if it would never appear.

In the early 1960s Ronnie had enjoyed a run of over nineteen weeks at the New Bagatelle, Soho, impressing audiences with renditions of The Lonesome Road, Mack the Knife and You’ll Never Walk Alone which were among his best songs. Ronnie released a number of singles on the Piccadilly and Fontana labels in the 1960s. Ronnie left London and relocated to Yorkshire in the mid-60s where he found an appreciative audience waiting to hear his outstanding cabaret voice.

The penultimate act was Elizabeth Foran, from Cork who became the first harpist to appear on the show. Elizabeth sang and performed Galway Bay on the harp accompanied by the Johnny Patrick Orchestra. Tony Hatch wanted to know ‘if she is the top harpist in Ireland, why didn’t she treat us to some very special harp work and not to attempt to sing in what I thought was a very nervous style,’ and thought there was something better she could have done.

Lionel Blair agreed with Tony, but showed his age again by adding he felt if the song was recorded by Elizabeth it would be a song that was requested on programmes like Housewives Choice, that he recalled he used to listed to as a little boy. Les Reed said Elizabeth did very well but thought she may have faired better with a traditional folk song. Shaw Taylor would have liked to have heard more harp.

Irish comedy vocal duo Two’s Company. Image: Discogs

The final act were Irish country act, Two’s Company, who were Mary Darcy and Eamon McRory. They had already had a hit with the Don Williams song You’re My Best Friend. On the show they performed their own comedy version of the Dolly Parton song Fight and Scratch, adding in additional spoken lyrics.

Shaw Taylor though the duo had ‘the germ of a good act,’ but it needed ‘a lot of thinking and good material.’ Les Reed liked then very much and thought they were very professional, but thought it was missing that certain magic for success in the commercial world.

Lionel Blair though their sophisticated clothes didn’t match the unsophisticated style of music. Tony Hatch thought ‘they had a good country and western image,’ but didn’t believe they were going to make it really big, but he liked them.

The final scoreboard read as follows;

PresentationContentEntertainment ValueTotal
1Linda Fletcher373539111
2Jeff Dillon33283596
3Scarlet O’Hara?*?*3289
4Two’s Company29283087
5Corkscrew28292885
6Ronnie Hall28262680
7Elizabeth Foran27242374
* The scores for presentation and content for Scarlet O’Hara totalled 67 but the breakdown on each score remains unknown

Credits: Thanks to Linda Fletcher, for sending additional information and audio recordings of her appearance and to Mike Read (Corkscrew) for the additional information provided via the comments on this page.

4 thoughts on “27 Nov 1976 – Series Five (12)

  1. Hi Mike,

    I’ve just found this website, I’ve been searching for my dad’s appearance on new faces (Jeff Dillon). Remember being a school girl at the time and I would love to see any footage you may have!

    Thank you so much. Hope to hear from you.

    Pauline

    Like

    1. Hi Pauline,
      Thanks for getting in touch.
      I also came across the website rather by accident but then had some correspondence with Mark Wilson who runs the site and he was able to put me in touch with Linda Fletcher who won that particular edition of New Faces, and who has a full audio recording of the whole show. Apparently the recording was done by her parents on a pretty basic cassette recorder but she then very kindly edited out an extract of my bands performance together with the judges comments and sent it to me as an MP3. Unfortunately there is no full video recording of the show available (at least not one that has yet been discovered) as my own video was simply copied from an 8mm silent cine film recording of just our performance on the show onto which I then dubbed an audio recording. The only possible sighting of your Dad would be at the very end when all the performers were stood together clapping Linda, but the quality is so bad that it’s actually difficult to recognize anyone.
      I am sure that Linda would be happy to create an MP3 audio recording of your Dad’s performance from her parents cassette assuming you don’t already have that.
      I have been searching my e-mails for Linda’s email address but cannot find it at the moment so I would suggest that you contact Mark using the contact option on the site and he should then be able to put you in touch with Linda.
      Hope you find what you’re looking for.
      Cheers,
      Mike

      Like

  2. I was the bass player with Corkscrew when we appeared on New Faces on the 27th November 1976. We all hade full time jobs ( I was a solicitor, there were a couple of teachers, a tree surgeon and a carpenter) so we all had to take time off as holiday in order to appear on the show. We were the first act on and I was completely focused on the song we were about to play when the floor manager out of the blue asked us to perform another song, to warm the audience up and before we went on air. We decided on a set of fiddle tunes which were actually quite technical to play and after the stress of that I then had to switch back into performance mode for the actual song we were playing for the show.
    I think we actually performed quite well but Les Reed, as I recall, suggested that we should not give up our day jobs! Probably sound advice although I think the main issue was that we had performed a Fairport Convention, “folk-rock” song (Cajun Woman) at a time when folk-rock was falling well out of fashion and being replaced by punk-rock. Nevertheless Corkscrew, as a band carried on playing under that name for another 5 years or so before morphing into a band called “Flash Harry” which is still very active in Bristol and the South West today, and still plays folk based rock music.
    I left Corkscrew in 1978 and headed up North to work. I played in various bands for the next 30 years but for me nothing quite reached the same heights as playing in Corkscrew and the thrill of appearing before some 15 million viewers on New Faces all that time ago in 1976.
    P.S I have some memorabilia from New Faces such as the Artists Pass, Audience Ticket, band photo etc. which I am happy to send you but can’t see where attachments can be added.

    Like

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