8 Oct 77 – Series Six (5)

Dave Dee, Peter Prichard, Ray Ellington and Tony Hatch joined Derek Hobson. Image TV Times Magazine

Albert Stevenson carried on his promise to bring some new faces to the judges panel with two more newcomers joining seasoned judge Tony Hatch and series five regular Peter Prichard. The two new judges were singer-songwriter and musician Dave Dee and singer, drummer and bandleader Ray Ellington.

Dave Dee had been in a successful group in the late sixties and, alongside his bandmates Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, he had a UK number one single with The Legend Of Xanadu plus another six top ten hits.

Ray Ellington formed jazz group the Ray Ellington Quartet in 1947. In the 1950s the group performed a mixture of jazz, rhythm & blues and calypso songs in the musical interludes of the British radio comedy programme The Goon Show and Ray also had a small speaking part in many of the episodes. Ray’s son, Lance, had won the series five New Faces Gala Final as one half of the duo Koffee ‘n’ Kreme.

They watched and scored the following seven new acts;

  • Fred Norrie (comedian) from Slough, Berks.
  • Tony Stackton (vocalist) from London
  • Adrian Hedley (mime act) from Surrey
  • Silhouette (six-piece group) from Rossendale, Lancs
  • Dave Arnold (vocalist / guitarist) from Skelmersdale, Lancs.
  • Sarah King (vocalist) from Wombourne, Staffs.
  • East End (five-piece group) from London
The latest show winner was Tony Stackton. Image: Reach PLC. Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited. All rights reserved.

The winner of the show was the soul vocalist Tony Stackton who already had a wealth of experience in the music business. Tony was born in Barbados and moved to London in 1965 where he joined reggae group The Skatalites and later joined the group Gulliver’s People who played at the Shaftesbury Avenue club Tiffany’s and the Hammersmith Palais.

In 1974, under the name Tony Jackson, he joined Birmingham vocalist Polly Brown, who was previously with the group Pickettywitch, to form the duo Sweet Dreams. Sweet Dreams made their live debut opening for the Three Degrees at the Southport Theatre.

Sweet Dreams had a top ten hit in August 1974 with Honey Honey, a cover of the ABBA original. The track had been recorded before Tony’s arrival which meant the vocal on the single was not his but that of song writer and record producer Ron Roker. Tony was initially used for photos and television appearances and was seen lip-synching to the vocals sung Ron Roker, while Polly Brown, under the name of Sara Leone, sported a dark wig and dark makeup, incredibly ‘blacking up’ to create a soul duo illusion.  

Tony did get to sing on Sweet Dreams’ follow up single The Best Of Everything which stalled just outside the UK top twenty and also on subsequent singles and the LP We’ll Be Your Music.

In 1976 Sweet Dreams finished in fourth place in the BBC Song For Europe contest, with their song Love, Kiss and Run, while Polly Brown, performing as a solo artist, also finished in tenth place with Do You Believe in Love at First Sight. Sweet Dreams were beaten by third placed Tony Christie, runners-up Co-Co, featuring future Bucks Fizz member Cheryl Baker and the winners The Brotherhood of Man, who would go on to represent the United Kingdom and ultimately win the Eurovision Song Contest in The Hague, Netherlands with their song Save All Your Kisses For Me.

Despite his previous television appearances with Sweet Dreams on Top of the Pops and the Song For Europe Tony was allowed to appear on New Faces as he was now appearing as a solo act and that was within the rules for appearing on the show. Tony released one single, under the Tony Stackton name, Let’s Stop Dancing, and while I can’t confirm this was his song of choice for the show, it does seem it may have been a likely selection to promote the record.

The year after his New Faces appearance Tony, still using the surname Stackton, joined the Northern Soul trio Midnight. The group also featured Jimmy Chambers and Ruby James, who had appeared on New Faces herself back in January 1976. Midnight’s song, Don’t Bother To Knock, finished runner-up in the 1978 BBC Song For Europe contest, with Tony being foiled, once again, by Cheryl Baker’s group Co-Co and their Stephanie de Sykes and Stuart Slater song, The Bad Old Days, which went on to finish 11th in the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest. The following year Tony and Ruby James both recorded with the group Ritz, alongside third member Kofi Missah.

Following his various group projects Tony reverted to using the surname Jackson and featured on a number of hit singles and LPs as a session singer in the late 70s and 80s including the Amii Stewart single Knock On Wood, and tracks on albums Fantastic by Wham!, The Secret Of Association by Paul Young, Easy Pieces by Lloyd Cole and the Commotions and Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D’Arby by, of course, Terence Trent D’Arby.

In November 1992 Tony was once again back in the UK charts with the group Rage when their cover of the Bryan Adams hit Run To You reached the top three.

Two acts on this show scored over 100 points to earn themselves a another appearance on the first Near Misses show of the series. Five-piece group East End and mime act Adrian Hedley would return on the 19 November 1977 to have one more shot at making the Gala Final.

High scoring mime act Adrian Hedley. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Mime act Adrian Hedley had great success in the months following his appearance with cabaret shows in France, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Kenya and television appearances on Rainbow and Saturday at the Mill. He was also seen in two shows with rival talent show, Opportunity Knocks, successes appearing in On Broadway with Lena Zavaroni on BBC One and in the Pam Ayres Christmas Show at Bournemouth’s Winter Gardens.

In 1979 Adrian’s success continued and he appeared on the BBC show Lucky Numbers and again with the successful young Scottish singer on Lena Zavaroni and Music, which also featured magician Guy Kent, who was seen on New Faces in series five.

Adrian’s big break came in July 1979 when he presented Jigsaw, a new fifteen minute children’s show for the BBC which he co-presented with Janet Ellis and an animated puzzle piece called Jigg. The award winning show asked viewers to follow the clues to six letters to make a word at the end of the show. Adrian spent the early episodes performing mime, but later progressed to a speaking role. He still got to perform some mime on each show as he introduced viewers to the genuinely frightening character of Noseybonk.

In 1982 Adrian was a contestant on David Essex’ Showcase filmed at the Harrogate Conference Centre and broadcast on BBC One. The show was more showcase than talent show, with the host performing at least two songs on each of the shows, and the weekly show winner returning as a guest act the following week. Other former New Faces acts also appearing in heats of the show were comedian Harry Dickman and Sweet Sensation vocalist Rikki Patrick. The show also featured a number of other notable entrants such as Thomas Dolby, Chris Barrie, Richard Digance, Talk Talk, The Belle Stars, Toto Coelo, Aneka and Amazulu. The final was won by New Wave singer Philip Jap and the runner-up was Mari Wilson and The Wilsations.

Adrian’s later career saw him turn his hand to writing for shows such as Fimbles and Big Cook Little Cook and as a director for Big Cook Little Cook, Annabel’s Kitchen and Sooty.

Vocalist Sarah King. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Sarah King, the daughter of a Barnsley miner, was a vocalist with natural charm and a picture-book smile and she scored very well with the judges but was just pipped on the post.

Tony Hatch found her performance impressive, Ray Ellington described her as ‘a real dish,’ Dave Dee said she ‘most attractive with a great voice’ and Peter Prichard stated ‘the girl has got it all, but she chose the wrong song.’

Sarah began her working life as a shorthand-typist in the offices of the Melody Maker where a member of the editorial staff heard her singing and persuaded her to audition for a vacancy with Rag Dolls, who shew joined when their lead singer Katy Kissoon left.

Following her New Faces appearance Sarah toured the UK’s top nightspots and enjoyed frequent radio airplay, included fronting the London Radio Orchestra. Sarah was selected to represent the BBC in Oslo’s Festival of Song. She was backed by a 54-strong orchestra and performed five numbers in the show presented in the Norwegian capital’s Radio House to a live audience on April 24 1978.

In July 1978, during a week at the Bailey’s club in Watford Sarah was spotted by Bunny Lewis and was booked for a season’s work in Portugal. In May 1979 Sarah was voted No. 1 Female Vocalist of the Year and appeared in the Midlands Variety Command Performance at the New Cresta Theatre Club, Solihull. Joining Sarah on the bill that evening was another New Faces discovery, comedian Ian ‘Sludge’ Lees, who picked up the No. 1 Comedian of the Year.

Comedian Fred Norrie. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Comedian Fred Norrie had been performing in clubs in the south of the UK since the early seventies. Fred was a very charitable comedian who in 1978 appeared in a show to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy as well as a fundraising show in Maidenhead, with fellow New Faces act Jon Jon Keefe, to raise money for the brave widow of a murdered taxi driver.

In September 1980 Fred was one of many New Faces comedy acts that played in the Comedian’s Golfing Society fundraising event at Welwyn Garden City Golf Club, where they aimed to raise enough money to buy a ‘Chucklebus’ for Haldens School, Blythway in Welwyn Garden City.

The Comedian’s Golfing Society was captained by ‘Jester’ Bob Curtiss who had replaced the previous ‘Jester’ Terry Mardell. Other New Faces comedians who joined the ‘Happy Ambassadors of Golf’ and turned out for the charity event were Jim Davidson, Roger de Courcey, Freddie Stuart, Wally Mardell, Terry Herbert and Mike McCabe.

Dave Arnold was looking for a career boost. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Vocalist and guitarist Dave Arnold had previously appeared in the 1974 Spring Show at the Coventry Theatre. The show was headlined by impressionist Freddie Starr and also featured New Faces judge and impressionist Janet Brown in the support cast.

Dave had spent March 1977 trying to perform his act in the middle of the Bay of Biscay in a near gale. With most of the cruise guests being sick in their cabins he played to just half-a-dozen passengers and the cruise director, while trying to keep his balance while playing his guitar and the boat going from side-to-side.

As well as this Canaries cruise Dave had taken his cabaret act to Germany, Spain and Italy in the years before his New Faces appearance. Dave was already pretty well fully booked up for the remainder of the year, but he was hoping New Faces will give his career just that little extra boost in 1978.

It seemed to have worked for Dave as in the summer of 1978 he appeared in cabaret at a number of Pontin’s Holiday camps, as did many other former New Faces acts such as Linda Fletcher, Tommer Puppets, Johnny Carroll, J.J.Stewart and Lee Wilson. Dave also appeared as one of the support acts on the Ken Dodd Laughter Show at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre in December 1978.

One thought on “8 Oct 77 – Series Six (5)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s