19 Feb 1977 – Series Five (24)

London vocalist Juliette de Ville.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

There was a familiar look to the judges assembled for show twenty-four of the series, they were Mickie Most, Shaw Taylor, John Smith and Les Reed.

A few days after the show was recorded host Derek Hobson was fined £90 by Oxford magistrates and had his driving licence endorsed following a speeding offence he committed back on 15 December 1976.  Derek had been caught by a radar device travelling at 87mph along the 60mph stretch of the A40 in Oxfordshire. Despite this being Derek’s third endorsement the magistrates decided not to disqualify him on the grounds it would cause him hardship.

The seven acts that appeared on the show were;

  • Juliette de Ville (vocalist) from London
  • Pappy Sweeney (comedian) from Walsall
  • Michael Johns (vocalist) from Cannock
  • U.S.A.U.K. (six-piece group) from Birmingham
  • Fresh (four-piece group) from Norwich
  • Dario and Delia (guitar / vocal duo) from Leicester
  • Count Marenzi (one man band) from Isle of Man
Daily Mirror TV page article by Tony Pratt 19 Feb 1977.
With thanks to Reach PLC. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited. All rights reserved.

With three acts from this show appearing in future All Winners Shows in the series it appears to have been a high scoring show, in fact I now know that the top score on the show was 100 points. Three acts, U.S.A.U.K., Fresh and Dario and Delia all got a second chance a few weeks later to book themselves a Gala Final place, however, a snippet from the TV listings of the Daily Mirror suggest that these three acts were more than just high scoring performances. 

In the piece, published on the day of the broadcast, it details a couple of the acts but then suggests a shock is in store. Not wishing to publish any spoilers the exact details are not revealed, however, it does mention that it has never happened before.

I have confirmed with three of the acts who featured on the show, that three acts shared the victory in a three-way tie and all progressed to the All Winners Shows as joint-winners of this show.  The joint winners idea was mentioned in an article in The Stage but a cutting from Leicester Mercury finally confirmed that Dario and Delia were indeed one of three ‘joint winners’ of the show, the only time this ever happened on the show.

Birmingham group U.S.A.U.K. were one of three winners.
Image: Discogs, California Bound single sleeve.

Birmingham group U.S.A.U.K. were likely to have been a fairly late replacement for the scheduled Dudley group Railout. TV listings show Railout as appearing on the show, but with U.S.A.U.K. confirmed as show winners by more than one source, plus the fact they appeared on a later All Winners Show suggests that they were drafted in to appear on this show.

U.S.A.U.K. are a difficult act to research however I do know that they played a show at the Dog and Trumpet, Coventry on 2 November 1977, where they were billed as M.A.M. recording artists, the same label as Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck, Gilbert O’Sullivan and Charles Aznavour.

The two singles they released on M.A.M. records were Illinois / Heads You Win in April 1977 and the follow-up recording California Bound / Perfect Feeling. The second track was credited to Flavell, Wilkinson, Martin, Friend, Nicholson, Elmore who I am assuming at the six members of the group. The the first track was simply credited as U.S.A.U.K. which suggests the group wrote their own Funk / Soul / Disco based songs.

Leicester brother and sister duo, Dario and Delia. Image: Dario Poli

Leicester musical duo, Dario and Delia Poli, like many other acts were making their very television appearance on the show. They performed the theme to the movie The Godfather, Speak Softly Love, which received a tremedous response from the audience.

Their shared victory came despite Dario injuring his finger after trapping it in the car door just twenty minutes before they were due to perform. With blood running down his arm and onto his jacket Dario was quickly patched up by the medical team at ATV but was unable to use his injured finger, which for a classical guitarist was a major problem. It certainly wasn’t the way Dario wanted to celebrate his birthday, which happened to be the same day as the recording. The extent of the injury suffered by Dario means that he still bears the scar on his finger to this day.

Added to this dramatic last minute injury was another problem for the duo with Delia still recovering from laryngitis on the night of the recording.  Songwriter and producer, Les Reed, said ‘Dario and Delia are professional in every sense of the word’ and John Smith, Managing Director of the Bailey’s Organisation added, ‘Dario and Delia are a great act who often work for us. Welcome anytime.’ 

The brother and sister duo , who sang to guitar accompaniment had been working together for five years, with as many appearances abroad as they had made in the UK, including a specially invited show for the Finnish Government. Their agent suggested they auditioned for New Faces to get themselves better known in the UK. Dario wrote a lot of their songs himself, and had also written the music for a film.

Following their TV debut on this show the duo performed with many big names including Olivia Newton-John, Dave Allen, Bruce Forsyth, Tommy Cooper, Ronnie Corbett, The Bachelors and New Faces pilot show host Leslie Crowther.

Norwich group Fresh, after they had changed their name to Monte Carlo. Image: Discogs

Norwich group Fresh were David Knowles (lead vocals / guitar), Mike Pearce (guitar), and brothers Paul Wortley (vocals, bass) and Barry Wortley (vocals, drums). They too would appear again, alongside Dario and Delia on the All Winners Show broadcast on 19 March 1977.

After their appearance on the show they were signed to Louvigny Music, the Radio Luxembourg London Office. Judge Mickie Most sent his brother David, who worked in promotions, to see the band at the studios. They were offered a record with RAK Records, they believed they would take over from the band Mud, however, the terms of the deal couldn’t be agreed with Louvigny Music and nothing came of it.

In 1978 the group changed their name to Monte Carlo and released the Win A Few, Lose A Few single on the Crystal Records label, which kind of summed up their New Faces experience.  The song was written by vocalist David Knowles with the B side, The Only One written by all four members.

In 1979 Monte Carlo entered their song Home Again (Living With You) in the Song for Europe contest to find the song that would represent the UK in that years Eurovision Song Contest in Jerusalem.  They finished a respectable seventh out of twelve acts with The Nolan Sisters finishing fourth and Black Lace the clear winners, taking their a song Mary Ann into the contest to represent the UK. Black Lace would end up finishing seventh behind winners Milk and Honey with Hallelujah.

In 1978 Fresh released their Valentino single on the Sonet record label, again it was another David Knowles composition, who would also open the Whitehouse Sound Studio in August 1979.  Paul Wortley also has a 24 track recording studio and has recorded many star names including a CD for Tammy Jones (multiple winner of Opportunity Knocks) and has also been a engineer for Gene Pitney, The Drifters and The Real Thing. Paul’s career as a bass player has seen him on Stage with Bradley Walsh, Bob Monkhouse, Brian Conley, and Frankie Vaughn.   Paul is now one half of vocal party act Splash Duo with Jayne Parker and they have performed in most parts of the UK, and specialising in providing great music and fun for hotels, corporate events, and weddings.

Cannock vocalist Michael Johns. Image © Reach PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

Cannock vocalist Michael Johns, real name Michael Brookes, was described as Britain’s answer to Jack Jones and was first heard singing in a club in Solihull, where he was snapped up by manager Leonard Cohen who now promoted the stylish young singer.  On the show Michael sang the ballad Feelings and his performance prompted Mickie Most to claim his good looks would help make him a star.  Michael felt his best performance of the song was in the rehearsals and when the results came in he recalls he finished on 99 points just behind the winning trio of acts and didn’t progress any further on the show.

Michael was hoping the exposure of the show would launch him into the charts with his first single Raining In My Heart, a double A side with Better Off Dead, being released on Tank Records during the same month.  A few months after his debut TV appearance Michael found himself in demand and was booked to appear at Ragley Hall, home of the Marquis of Hertford, with proceeds from the show going to the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind.  Michael was also looking forward to spending the summer cruising with one of the Greek shipping lines.

Just three months later, in May 1977, Michael’s hopes of playing a summer show at Tito’s in Rhyl were dashed when the club was destroyed by a fire which caused an estimated £80,000 of damage.  Fortunately all the guests in the adjancent hotel were safely evacuated and no one was severely injured however all booked shows obviously had to be cancelled.

Half-Turkish, London vocalist Juliette de Ville had recently made her stage debut, appearing in the Val Arness production Way Out In Piccadilly at the West End’s Boulogne Restaurant, Gerrard Street, London.  Juliette’s smouldering continental quality delivered a memorable performance as she delivered songs in French, Greek and Turkish, mixing uptempo soul with dramatic ballads with considerable ease.

One man band Count Marenzi worked a builder’s labourer when he wasn’t peforming his act in venues around the world. 

Credits: Michael Brookes (Michael Johns) for the information about his song and the comments of Mickie Most.
Dario Poli (Dario & Delia) for providing confirmation of the three-way tied result.
Paul Wortley (Fresh) for also confirming the unusual result and additional information on the group.

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