The judging panel for show twenty of this series saw Muriel Young, Clifford Davis, Les Reed and George Elrick joining host Derek Hobson to watch another batch of ‘new to TV’ acts hoping to impress and top the scoreboard.
The acts, in order of appearance, were;
- Teapot Brown (five-piece group) from London
- Guy Kent (magician) from London
- Tommy Drennan (vocalist) from Ireland
- Lynch & Lawson (country vocal duo) from London
- Elaine Lesley (vocalist) from Leicester
- Johnny Legs Burton (singer / comedian) from Jarrow
- Why Not (four-piece group) from Stoke-on-Trent
The winners, with a score of 108 points, were the vocal duo Lynch & Lawson who sang a song written by Billy Lee Morris, a waiter they met while recording in Nashville, called Pride and Dignity which featured on their LP, The First.
The country duo were Piet Lynch and John Lawson and they were from Kilburn, London. They received maximum marks for Entertainment Value from both Muriel Young and George Elrick and a maximum score for content from songwriter Les Reed.
Muriel Young thought the song, and the singers voice had a Neil Diamond feel to it and said that for her, it was ‘the tops.’ Clifford Davis said ‘they’ve got the right accent and they look good and they are well dressed and they’ve taken trouble and they’ve washed their hair and I liked them.’
Les Reed suggested the duo should find themselves a slot at the annual Country & Western show at the Empire Pool, Wembley and added, ‘I think these boys are probably the best I’ve seen for a long, long time’ and ‘I think the song they picked was very, very good. It’s an excellent song.’ George Elrick concluded the comments by saying ‘it’s a very good song,’ and ‘these boys must make it.’
Opening the show were the group Teapot Brown who sang a song, A Face In The Crowd, written by their own, Fred Francis, who had previously appeared on New Faces with the Series Four finalists Scoby Smith.
Teapot Brown’s members were Fred Francis (guitar), Dave Lance (vocals), Brian Gill (bass), Tony Miles (drums) and Barry Wetherilt (keyboard).
Les Reed said that their sound was reminiscent of The Bee Gees and the lead singer reminded him of Robin Gibb. He added ‘the fender player just got in the way a little bit for me.’ George Elrick, himself the winner of the best drummer award in the All-Scottish Dance Band Championship for 1929, paid a huge compliment to the groups drummer, Tony Miles, saying ‘he’s one of the best drummers I’ve heard,’ and congratulated him on using his left hand in the classical style, leaving Tony looking visibly overwhelmed by the comment.
Muriel Young had some doubts about the name Teapot Brown but thought the song ‘was a beauty.’ Clifford Davis said, ‘they were very good’ and couldn’t add any more to the views of the musical experts before him. Teapot Brown’s performance on this show can be seen in the video below.
Young magician Guy Kent was already a Butlin’s winner and had appeared at the Palladium with Les Dawson and at the Circus Tavern with Max Bygraves and was still only sixteen years of age when he appeared on the show. He had also appeared on the Paul Daniels and Faith Brown BBC1 show For My Next Trick, just four months before this New Faces appearance, which did seem to bend the rules for appearing on the show. The teenage trickster treated the audience to some neat, slight of hand, card and cane illusions while dancing to the Theme from Shaft.
The obvious choice to kick off the judges comments was the magician on the panel Clifford Davis, who said that Guy was ‘the best sixteen year-old magician I’ve seen since Johnny Hart,’ who was the winner of the inaugural Young Magician of the Year Award at the Magic Circle. Clifford added that ‘he’s got the prescence, he’s got the manner, he’s modern, he looks good, and I can only praise him.’
Songwriter Les Reed upset Clifford by saying he thought Guy would make a good singer because he had the right face, prompting Clifford to remind him he was a magician not a singer. Les added, ‘he’s got the right image, he uses the right kind of music,’ and said ‘he should make it very big.’ George Elrick thought Guy ‘was the Lionel Blair of magicians and stated he was ‘ a great technician.’ Muriel Young thought he was ‘absolutely super,’ and added ‘he moves very well.’
Back in May 1976 another regular New Faces judge, Tony Hatch, along with his wife, Jackie Trent and their follow judges voted Guy Kent the winner of the Royal Standard talent contest in Walthamstow, where he pretty much performed the same act he used on this show. Guy won the £250 first prize and the contract to appear with Max Bygraves at the Circus Tavern in Purfleet.
In 1978 Guy appeared at the Royal Gala Show at the Opera House, Jersey, in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and Earl Mountbatten of Burma. Other acts on the same bill included Billy Daniels, Larry Grayson, Rolf Harris, Lenny Henry and the Nolan Sisters. The show capped of a fine year for the teenager who had already enjoyed a season at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon with Rolf Harris and successful UK tours with Morecambe and Wise, Frankie Vaughan and Harry Worth. He spent the summer season with former New Faces host Leslie Crowther at the new Wessex Hall, Poole.
In 1982 Guy decided he’d finished with magic, at the age of just 22 and instead turned his attention to concert promotion, organising Shakatak’s December 1982 Christmas Concert show at Wembley’s Conference Centre as one of his first shows.
Vocalist Tommy Drennan, from Limerick, Ireland, was clearly out to try to impress at least one judge as he chose to perform the Barry Mason, and judge, Les Reed’s song I Pretend, which had been a number one hit for Des O’Connor.
Tommy was well known on the cabaret circuit and had already had hit records in Irleand, however, the week of his New Faces appearance he had been due to perform a show at Coolera House, Knocknahur in Sligo but his appearance on this show meant that he had to travel to Birmingham for the recording and had to cancel his planned appearance in Ireland.
So what did Les Reed think of the performance? Les thought Tommy had loads of charm and added ‘I think he sings it better than Des’ and thought he had a big future. George Elrick was not so positive commenting that he thought the singing was slightly old-fashioned and that Tommy needed to put more heart into the song.
Muriel felt Tommy had a ‘nice voice’, but may have been a little nervous as she heard a lot of vibrato which she didn’t like. Clifford Davis had little to add simply saying, ‘I’m afraid I agree with George.’
Tommy was an eleven year ago boy soprano when his rendition of Oh Holy Night, at Mount St. Alphonsus Church, was recorded in 1953 but for nearly two decades it was stored in an old suitcase. It was later restored and a second verse added and when the demo tape reached EMI, in Dublin, Tommy was called to record the new verse with an orchestra. Having combined the old and new recordings, a single was released in time for Christmas 1972 becoming an instant hit, spending five weeks at the top of the Irish music charts.
Tommy Drennan and The Monarchs had released their first EP Ballad Time back in 1964 and they played live shows that featured a varied set of big ballads, chart hits and rock ‘n’ roll numbers. When vocalist Tommy Drennan sang numbers such as Oh Holy Night or Boolavogue the crowd would gather around the stage. With the Monarchs Tommy had already made numerous appearances on television, on shows such as The Late Late Show and The Showband Show and they also released three LPs and a number of other singles.
After the Monarchs split Tommy formed The Top League with another New Faces name, Irish singer Shaun O’Dowd, who had appeared before the judges a few weeks earlier with the group Ding-a-Ling. Since 1975 Tommy had been a solo artist recording a number of singles on various record labels.
22 year-old Leicester vocalist Elaine Lesley performed Send In The Clowns from the musical A Little Night Music.
George Elrick said ‘I don’t think Elaine is ready for stardom yet’ and couldn’t understand why she chose such a difficult song to sing saying she looked worried during her performance. Songwriter Les Reed boldly said ‘this is the best song ever written’ and he thought Elaine ‘handled it beautifully.’ When Derek Hobson pushed Les on whether he would take Elaine into a record studio, he replied ‘yes, anytime,’ adding that Tina Charles started out like this and was now a number one artist.
There is no evidence that Les Reed kept his word but Elaine did record an LP of covers, titled Stargazing, which included Send In The Clowns, Killing My Softly and For All We Know among the ten tracks.
Clifford Davis admitted he’d never understood the lyrics of the song, but said Les Reed was going to explain it to him afterwards adding he thought Elaine ‘had a few rough edges in her voice,’ and that ‘the song was a little bit beyond her, but I think she has promise.’ Muriel Young thought the song choice went against Elaine youth and beauty as it is was a song for an older woman.
Elaine was no stranger to the talent show or television studio as back in 1970, when aged just sixteen, she had finished third on Opportunity Knocks. At the time she had a part time job in a sheet music shop which gave her the chance to sort out music she wanted to sing and also allowed her to practice her piano playing. Following her Opportunity Knocks appearance she secured bookings every weekend for the next six months but while waiting for fame to come along she was also learning to play golf.
Twelve months after her New Faces appearance Elaine enjoyed a successful but short season in Malta, before returning to play shows on the UK cabaret circuit, followed by summer shows in Jersey before, by popular demand, heading back to Malta in November 1978.
In 1983 Elaine secured her a cruise booking on the QEII and she travelled on other cruise ships around Europe and the Middle East, however she was back in England during the summer months taking her cabaret shows on a tour of the east coast Ladbroke Holiday Centres. These would be her last UK shows for some time as she spent the mid-eighties abroad, mainly on various cruise ships. She played shows in Japan in 1984 and she was back cruising again in 1986 performing on the Cunard Princess between California and Alaska and the Cunard Countess cruising around Mexico and the Carribean.
Manchester-based, Geordie, comedian and singer Johnny Legs Burton had been performing his act, mixing acceptable, smooth voiced vocals, gags and quick footed dance in a burlesqued ‘drag’ finale for at least the last ten years in the pubs and clubs of the UK.
Johnny delivered a small number of humourous shaggy dog stories before bursting into song while taking off his blue suit to reveal his blue tassled dress, black floppy hat and black ballet tights, finishing his routine with a wonderful display of those crazy legs he was famous for.
Clifford Davis thought Johnny’s finale was great but thought using the name ‘Legs’ ruined the surprise and suggested he shouldn’t use the name as it gave away the finish. Les Reed thought he should use the name ‘face’ explaining, ‘he’s got a marvellous face’ and ‘I loved him, I think he’s got a lot to offer.’
George Elrick said he’d heard the stories before, but added, ‘that doesn’t make any difference, it’s the way you tell them and he told them very well and I enjoyed them.’ Muriel Young called the surprise strip at the end a ‘magic moment’ and said Johnny was a ‘lovely artist.’
Formerly half of a prize winning double act Johnny eventually branched out as a solo comic in 1965, and his comedy, interspersed by the antics of those amazing ‘legs’ delivered his style of visual comedy that was very suitable for television. He had appeared on television before New Faces, doing a very good spots on Opportunity Knocks, appearing in February and May 1972, but as this was not in the previous two years he was within the new appearance rules of the New Faces show.
Highlights of Johnny’s career pre-New Faces saw him tour NATO camps in 1967, a record breaking summer season at Clacton in 1968, a Pontin’s North West tour in 1969 and the summer of 1970 saw him fully booked up again. In November 1970 Johnny suffered severe scalding when a car radiator cap blew up in his face, but he continued his journey along the M1 to Leicester and insisted on fulfilling all his engagements. Vic Norman, a local entertainer, used his first aid skills to dress Johnny’s wounds and persuaded him to seek hospital treatment immediately after his show.
Sadly in early 1979 Johnny’s career was shattered when a police patrol car skidded on ice and hit the car he was driving home from a club appearance in Newton Aycliffe. The crash left Johnny unable to walk and a few months later he had his kneecaps removed and was told he might never walk again. His clubland colleagues organised a fund raising benefit night to help Johnny on the road to recovery and he started to learn to walk again and set his sights on a return to clubland.
The final act on the show was the four-piece group from Stoke-on-Trent, Why Not, who performed a new song called Tomorrow, a rock ballad with a twiddly guitar intro.
Bizarrely the group performed their song on a set with a backdrop of, not one but, two sinister looking hangman nooses and a good amount of stage fog. The set designers were clearly picking up on the song lyrics which included the phrase ‘today’s the day that I die’ and featured a number of last actions taken by the singer of the song, presumably before he was executed by the hangman.
Unfortunately the judges comments and scores are not avaiable for this performance which makes the final scoreboard difficult to complete as we don’t know what Why Not scored or where they ranking in the final placings, but the scores for all the other artist were as follows;
|1||Lynch & Lawson||35||36||37||108|
|Unknown||Johnny Legs Burton||32||30||35||97|
but the winners with 108 points were Lynch & Lawson
Credit: Huge thanks to Barry Wetherilt (Teapot Brown) and his daughter Elaine Hones for their help in obtaining all the details for this show.
2 thoughts on “22 Jan 1977 – Series Five (20)”
johnny legs burton was a great performer,he should of made it big time ,,if he was playing birmingham i never missed him,,he was a very funny guy,,,,,,,,,
[…] & Lawson (vocal duo) from London – show 5.20 […]