26 Feb 1977 – Series Five (25)

Glasgow vocalist Darci Silver. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The panel of four judges for show twenty five of the series were Jimmy Henney, Peter Prichard, Lionel Blair and Martin Jackson. Once again Derek Hobson sat in the host chair to keep order and introduce the following seven acts;

  • Chris Lloyd (comedian) from London
  • The Bob Clarke Ensemble (jazz trio) from Sussex
  • Peter Collins with Style (four-piece group) from Norwich
  • John Lord (vocal / pianist) from Bedford
  • Darci Silver (vocalist) from Glasgow
  • Kasey James (male vocalist) from London
  • Heritage (five-piece group) from Grays, Essex

With three of the acts on this show appearing again on later shows, it wasn’t clear who were the winners and which acts scored above the magic 100 points required for a second appearance to be offered. That mystery was solved thanks to Len Flack (Heritage) who confirmed that the winners of the show were The Bob Clarke Ensemble, who they had dismissed in rehearsals as a comedy joke act, however, they were very professional when the show was recorded.

The Bob Clarke Ensemble jazz trio also appeared on later shows in the series.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The Bob Clarke Ensemble were one of the three acts from this show to book themselves a return appearance. They would appear again on 19 March 1977 in the next Winners and Near Misses show.

Bob’s professional career began in the early 1950s when he played in the clubs of Soho, including some iconic jazz venues like the Mandrake Club and Ronnie Scotts. It was at one of these gigs that Bob met Stephane Grappelli, who just happened to be in the audience, and the two became good friends. In the late 1950s Bob played in Moscow with the Denny Wright Trio and went on to play all around the world. Bob finally settled in Paris and played at top venues in the city including a ten year run at the Crazy Horse.

During his travels Bob associated with many stars and enjoyed a few musical collaborations.  He met Elvis Presley at the Lido in Paris and when in Las Vegas he met Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole.

By 1977 Bob returned to England, formed the Bob Clarke Ensemble and gigs quickly followed with a season long contract at the Victoria Palace. In Silver Jubilee week they played the opening act at the London Palladium. Post New Faces, Bob still ventured down to London to play and during the summer months was often found at the Keswick Jazz Festival where he played to a loyal and appreciative audience. There are many of Bob’s performances on You Tube, including this one from Zeffirelli’s in 2013. Bob sadly passed away in November 2015 at the age of 87.

Scoring an impressive 111 points were Norwich group Peter Collins with Style. The four-piece act, Peter Collins (vocals), Robin Barnes (guitar), Richard Knight (piano) and Denny Royal (drums), performed the Brian Bennett (The Shadows) and Mike Hawker song Sarah’s Coming Home. The song was released on the independent record label, Intro, in 1977. The EP also featured another two other songs, All By Myself and Macarthur Park which were the songs performed by the group on their second and third New Faces appearances, making the disc a bit of a New Faces collectable.

The group had first auditioned for Opportunity Knocks and while waiting to hear if they had been successful agent Chic Applin arranged a New Faces audition, in Ipswich, with show producer Albert Stevenson. They played their song and Albert told them immediately ‘You’re on!’ On returning home they received a call from the producers of Opportunity Knocks who also offered them a place on the show. Now there can’t be many acts who can say they were offered a spot on two TV talent shows in the same day.

After this New Faces performance the show producer, Albert Stevenson, is reported to have remarked ‘that’s a lovely song, do that in the final and you’ve got a chance.’ The judges were also equally impressed with the performance. Lionel Blair said the group had ‘tremendous style’ and concluded by saying, ‘go to the club and see this act, you’ve had a good evening.’ Jimmy Henney was full of praise for the lead singer Peter Collins, calling him ‘excellent,’ and he quoted his ‘old mate’ Jack Parnell by ending with a simple ‘right on.’

Martin Jackson said he thought Peter had ‘good teeth’ much to the amusement of the rest of the group but did add that they were ‘visually a very good act and a lovely, stylish group, well named.’ Completing the comments was Peter Prichard who said he was very happy with them, ‘they look like a first class act, the presentation is nice’ and he couldn’t see why, with a little bit of luck, they couldn’t make it big.

Lionel Blair and Jimmy Henney scored the act 29/30 both awarding the maximumm ten points for presentation and entertainment value. With a 26/30 from Martin Jackson and 27/30 from Peter Prichard this made the opening act a very difficult one the beat.

Peter Collins with Style perform the Matt Munro hit Sarah’s Coming Home, which earned them an impressive 111 points.
Bedford pianist John Lord did enough to secure a return performance. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Also appearing again later in the series was trained pianist and singer / songwriter John Lord, who also held a Cambridge honours graduate in French. He was billed as a ‘New Faces winner’ in later story in The Stage however, I know only too well that the term ‘winner,’ when used in the context of New Faces, takes on a less than literal meaning and it seems this is also the case here. However, John must have scored over 100 points to return for the Winners and Near Misses show.

John had previously recorded a single back in 1967, I Will Cry / You Really Got It, which was released in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

In April 1978 John recorded, on Bob Kingston’s new R.K. label, Image of a Star, the song he performed on his second of two appearances on New Faces. The track was a tribute to Neil Sedaka and John used many of the star’s best loved song titles to tell his own story of a singer-songwriter, with cleverly interwoven references to events in Neil Sedaka’s own career. Naturally the song found favour with members of the American star’s fan club, with the sleeve notes written by Mel Kirtley the Sedakaclub president.

The group Heritage performed When The Train Comes, which had been recorded by the Sutherland Brothers & Quiver, and written by Iain Sutherland and featured on their 1975 Reach For The Sky LP. Heritage member, Len Flack, thinks they may have finished fifth.

As of February 2015 the members of the Grays band Heritage were all still playing in various groups in Grays, Basildon or the surrounding areas. Drummer Gary Parish could be found behind the kit in the group The Beagles, while bass player Len Flack was in a group called Chinawhite. Keyboard player Wayne Baker often played with the group Captured and the guitarist / vocalist Ken Butler played in The Rubettes. Lead singer John Head was also still performing around that time, however he had moved up north. somewhere.

Comedian Chris Lloyd received some great comments from the judges. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Following his appearance on the show, London, banjo playing, comedian Chris Lloyd secured himself a Summer Season at the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton, which started in July 1977. The judges all gave Chris very positive comments on his performance.

Lionel Blair thought Chris was ‘Terrific, adding ‘he crammed a tremendous act into three minutes.’
Martin Jackson described Chris as ‘a young comic with new material and a lot of confidence.’
Jimmy Henney simply said, ‘he’s great,’ and thought he had ‘a nice young fresh approach.’
Peter Prichard said Chris had ‘nice delivery’ and ‘good material.’

Credits: Len Flack (Heritage) for confiming the song Heritage performed and for confirming which of the three acts that progressed to the Winners and Near Misses shows were the winner of this show.

6 thoughts on “26 Feb 1977 – Series Five (25)

  1. Is there any TV footage from this show? My dad was Ken butler that was in heritage but has recently sadly passed. I would love to see this?


    1. Hi Rayna
      So sorry to hear about your loss.
      Sadly most of the New Faces shows were wiped by ATV. The only footage of this show that I’ve been able to find is that of Peter Collins with Style which had been uploaded to You Tube. You could try commenting on the video page to see if the account that postage the footage has any additional show content.
      Hope this helps and so sorry again to hear of your loss.


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