15 Jan 1977 – Series Five (19)

The group Sullivan finished third with 102 points. Image: D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

As well as the seven acts who were performing there was also a new face among the judges with, arranger and composer of easy listening and pop versions of film themes, Geoff Love making his debut on the panel. Joining Geoff and completing the panel of four were Lionel Blair, John Smith and Shaw Taylor.

The seven acts looking to impress the studio and television audiences, as well as the assembled judges were;

  • Sullivan (five-piece group) from Udny, Scotland
  • Dave Curtis (vocal / guitar) from Wales
  • Maxwell Plumm (five-piece comedy / harmony group) from Kidderminster
  • Ian Sands (comedian) from Lytham, Lancs.
  • Vic Blackwell (comedy / music) from Cheshire
  • David Tomkins and Friends (ventriloquist) from Luton
  • Tina (vocalist) from Ireland

Vocalist, Laraine Lee was listed in some publication as appearing on this show, however, she would actually appear on the show three weeks later on 5 February 1977.

Vocalist and guitar player Dave Curtis.
Image: The Stage Media Company Limited

The winner of the show, by just one point, was Welsh guitar / vocalist Dave Curtis, who scored 107 points and booked his place on the next All Winners show on 12 February 1977. The Country & Western performer did have some previous television experience having travelled to Australia in 1975, where he made appearances on both television and radio.

Dave seems to have been a very generous performer as, despite his success on the show in June 1977, he remained humble taking his backing band to play a Jubilee party show for a group of pensioners at the Crown Hotel in Rugeley. Dave and the group provided music for dancing and performed a concert.

Dave was still using his New Faces success in show listings some thirteen years later, as seen in the Staffordshire Sentinel in May 1990.

Staffordshire Sentinel – Friday 25 May 1990. Image: Reach PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

In August 1978 Dave, one of Tank Records and Bird Sound Studios top country and western artists, travelled from his South Wales home to Alveston, Warwickshire to perform a Welsh funeral hymn at the service for young record executive, Monty Bird, who had died from leukaemia, aged just thirty.

Bird Sound Studios had also recorded a number of other artists that had made appearances on New Faces, including Incas, who had appeared in series four, Ora Pasco who sang the single, All Over Now, released by Tank Records on show 5.3 and Jess and the Gingerbread who won their first show and appeared on the first All Winners Show of series three.

Finishing in second place, just one mark behind the winner with 106 points, was the Irish vocalist that went by the name of just Tina and just four points behind her with 102 points were Scottish group Sullivan. Sullivan were from a small village called Udny, just north of Aberdeen. Sullivan were Mark Aynsley (vocals, guitar, piano), Mike Sullivan (drums, vocals), Grant Haycock (bass, vocals), Gus Martin (keyboards), Tony Jay (lead guitar, vocals). In 1976 Mark Aynsley was the compere and vocalist and Sullivan the resident group at The Gaiety Jay Jay’s, Beach Promenade, Aberdeen.

Kidderminster group Maxwell Plumm. Image: The Stage Media Company Limited

The group Maxwell Plumm didn’t have far to travel to the studios, as they were based in just over 15 miles away in Kidderminster, for their performance of the Eric Carmen hit All By Myself which featured on their third LP A Taste of Plumm.

The group began in 1970 as Topliners, with Alan ‘Butch’ Humber (lead vocals) and Roy Doherty (rhythm guitar) as the founding members. Richard McGowan (bass) and Alan Brooks (keyboards) joined in 1971. Their first professional appearance was at Pontin’s Camber Sands in 1972 where they played for the next four years, adding Dave Chandler (drums) to the line-up in 1973.

At the end of 1973 they performed at the Royal Albert Hall appearing in the New Years Eve Arts Ball, in aid of Muscular Dystrophy Group of Great Britain, which was broadcast on Capital Radio.

It should be noted that they were not named after the Maxwell’s Plum Wine Bar and Bistro at Five Ways Shopping Centre, Birmingham, which didn’t open until 1977. They in fact changed their name in 1974 to Maxwell Plumm after a New York restaurant, that was used as the location for the pick-up bar in the 1969 movie John and Mary and starred Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow. Paul Sanders (lead guitar, keyboards) also joined in 1974 after being asked to do some session work with the group. Tracks from their second LP, We Can Work It Out, which was a mixture of covers and original material can be heard on the WFMU blog.

By the time of their New Faces appearance they were only a five-piece group. Alan ‘Butch’ Humber, Dave Chandler and Paul Sanders remained and were likely joined by Peter Goodwin (bass) and either Paul Woffingdon (keyboards) or Robert Andrews (string synthesizer), which was the line-up for their most recent LP, released in 1977. Maxwell Plumm also supplied backing for Johnny Carroll, another New Faces success, on his LP Touch Me Again which was released on Raven Records, the same label that had released two of the three LPs recorded by the group. They shared the backing duties with another New Faces act, Gold, who appeared on show 5.11.

In 1979 Alan ‘Butch’ Humber left the group but took the Maxwell Plumm name with him to become a solo artist. He returned to Pontin’s Holiday Camps and also performed at Warner’s Holiday venues, delivering an act featuring strong vocals, comedy and impressions. A few of the acts he’s worked with include the Barron Knights, Charlie Williams, The Dooleys, Lenny Henry, Jimmy Cricket, The Drifters, Vince Hill and Frank Carson. Since going solo Maxwell Plumm toured the UK and abroad including shows in Belize, Norway, Germany, Spain, Malta, The Falklands Islands and Gibraltar.

David Tomkins with one of his friends, Cheeky Dog.
Image: The Stage Media Company Limited

20 year-old David Tomkins and Friends delivered a mix of ventriloquism, magic and impressions, for review by the judges. David first became interested in magic and puppets when he was just eight years old, and he competed regularly in junior talent contests. He had been in full-time show business since the age of sixteen and had developed his act to appeal to all types of audiences. His first taste of a large audience came at Butlins, in a children’s talent competition before around 2,000 people, however, he didn’t win first prize but it was a very good experience for his future career.

Shortly after his eighteenth birthday in 1974 David was awarded full membership of the Magic Circle in London. He was also invited to produce and perform a twenty minute children’s show mixing ventriloquism and magic by the International Brotherhood of Magicians, of which he was also a member, for their annual Convention at Hastings in September 1974. David enjoyed huge success following his appearance and 1979 he celebrated his fiftieth appearance at Caesars Palace in Luton.

David’s most well known puppet, the giant, yellow, Cheeky Dog and others puppets from his act were made by Peter Pullon from Coventry, whose other work included Nookie Bear, Lenny the Lion, Emu, most of Keith Harris’ characters. David was voted the Best Ventriloquist-Magic Act for 1984-85 by the International Brotherhood of Magicians for his act that featured a dog on roller skates and a canine crooner who belted out pop songs with clowns.

It wasn’t all about friends with David, he also liked to keep things in the family. Despite the age gap of sixty years, he performed with his dad, Dick Tomkins, known as Dicky Wicky, and his daughter Karen, known as Kudly Karen when they all appeared in the Cheeky Dog Show which toured the UK in 1986. Everyone else involved in the show, was also a member of the Tomkins family too. Some of David’s other featured puppets were Luvva Duck and Mad Maggie and he introduced audiences to a new character, Mr Miller, on Barrymore in 1995. On the showhe was on of about half a dozen ventriloquists performing a song with Michael Barrymore, another former New Faces contestant, who also performed with a puppet of the show’s musical director.

David also found fame with his magic illusions, which he performed with his wife, Jane. Together they won the 1995 British Magic Convention championships in Blackpool in the general magic category, where they performed a new twist on the cutting a woman in half trick. Not only did David cut his wife in half, he also made her disappear piece by piece.

Lancashire comedian Ian Sands. Image: The Stage Media Company Limited

Clean, clever and classy comedian Ian Sands had been performing since around 1973 and in 1975 secured a summer season in Blackpool. Following his appearance on the show he continued to play the clubs of the UK and in 1980 he signed up for a summer season with Butlin’s holiday camps, performing at the Fily and Skegness venues, where he was the principal comedian.

Cheshire musical comedy act Vic Blackwell had been performing in cabaret since around 1971. Following Vic’s appearance on the show the comedy musician and impersonator would go on to appear on London Weekend Television’s Who Do You Do?

In October 1974 Vic was chosen to perform on the Sacha Distel show at the ABC cinema in Foregate Street, Chester, which also featured the finals of the Miss Chester 1974 contest. His act in the show featured an impression of Liberace which resulted in roars of laughter from the audience.

The Sacha Distel show was compered by local DJ Pete Price, who would go on to appear on New Faces in 1975 and who also hosted the first All Winners show of series four, won by Roger de Courcey and Nookie Bear. Also performing on the show was vocalist Samantha Sinclair, who would later go on to score 103 points on show 3.19 in January 1975.

3 thoughts on “15 Jan 1977 – Series Five (19)

  1. Hi,
    My dad appeared on the show in the early/mid 70s, may have been 73/74 under the stage name of Tony Garcia.
    I would love to see it again and see his name mentioned on here
    He passed away unexpectedly in July 2020 but worked as an entertainer for over 60 years


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