5 Nov 77 – Series Six (9)

London vocalist Camilla.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Ken Irwin returned to the judges panel for his second New Faces appearance where he was joined by the experienced trio of George Elrick, Tony Hatch and John Smith.

The seven new to television acts who were all looking for a place in the next All Winners Show were;

  • Climax (seven-piece group) from West Dulwich, London
  • Johnny Tudor (vocalist) from Port Talbot
  • Camilla (vocalist) from London
  • Michel Henry (speciality act) from Manchester
  • Nick Barry (vocalist / comedian) from Birmingham
  • Sweet Inspiration (vocal / instrumental trio) from Cumnock, Ayrshire
  • Flash (five-piece group) from Northern Ireland
Flash line-up (from left) – Maurice Cooney, Rick Bleakley, Harry Cooney, Davy Stuart and Mick Loughrane.
Image Belfast Telegraph © Independent News and Media PLC. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

The winners of the show, and the only Irish group to win a New Faces show, were the group Flash who scored 112 points, receiving 29 of those points from songwriter and producer Tony Hatch. The group performed I Can Do It, which had been a hit for The Rubettes a few years earlier, and was also the song they had performed at their New Faces audition at Birmingham’s Hippodrome theatre.

The group was formed by Newry brothers Harry and Maurice Cooney, who had been playing in various groups since the early seventies. Having secured £2,000 in cash from Cecil Thompson, a dancehall and hotel promoter, they invested in a quality sound system and a Bedford van and set about a series of gigs around Northern Ireland. They formed The Bloody Morgan Supersound and signed a five year contract with Cecil Thompson, who insisted on a 25% management fee.

Over the summer they made a number of personnel changes, and also changed the group name to Flash, before they settled on the line-up that would appear on the show. Maurice (bass) and Harry (vocals) were joined by Davy Stuart (keyboards), Mick Loughrane (guitar) and joining on drums was Rick Bleakley, who sixteen months later would become a father to a daughter, Christine. Christine would go on to make a name for herself as a television presenter and is married to former footballer Frank Lampard.

Having finalised the line-up just a few weeks earlier the group headed to Birmingham for a Monday rehearsal and a Tuesday recording of their performance for broadcast on the Saturday evening. They recorded their own backing track on the Tuesday afternoon and then, decked out in their new Colin Wilde stage clothes, sang live to their pre-recorded backing track before the live studio audience. Just before the end of their performance the studios suffered a ten minute power cut and the group had to wait in the wings to start their performance all over again. Their win guaranteed them a place on the Christmas Eve All Winners Show, where they would once again wear clothes supplied by Colin Wilde.

Scottish trio Sweet Inspiration.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

After a few years on the road, with new equipment and a new van, Rick and Davy left to join a group called The Sweat, who recorded the single Why’d You Have To Lie. Despite winning this New Faces show Flash failed to earn the exposure it should have guaranteed them as many counties in Ireland didn’t broadcast the ITV and UTV channels.

In 1982, with a new line-up, Flash recorded a cover of The Foundations track (Why Do You) Build Me Up Buttercup before they finally split up. After the split Harry continued to play with the group Taxi and Maurice moved into bar and nightclub management, running The Inn on the Park in Jersey. It was here that Maurice gave a new Louis Walsh group, called Boyzone, their first big International gig.

Comedian Nick Barry. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The runner-up was comedian Nick Barry who scored 101 points and was leading up until the final act performed. He would go on to make a further appearance on the New Year’s Eve Near Misses Show.

The February after his appearances on New Faces Nick was, with his unfailing cheerfulness and improvisation, comparing a talent show at Hunter’s Moon Cabaret Lounge, Castle Bromwich which featured a few former New Faces contestants. On that bill were former contestants Ora Pasco, Rick Lomas and Pat Tansey, the comedian who won a show back in series four but was disqualified when it was discovered he had appeared on rival show Opportunity Knocks just twelve months earlier.

Also appearing on the talent show bill was comedian Andy Feet, who would appear as a contestant in the Central TV eighties revival of the show, which was hosted by series three winner Marti Caine.

In June of 1978 Nick was booked to make appearances at a number of Butlins Holiday Centres including Barry Island, Bognor Regis and Clacton-on-Sea. Nick later also compared shows for Jack Jones, Vince Hill and Roy Castle.

Speciality Act Michel Henry. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Speciality act Michel Henry not only had the audience mystified, he even managed to baffle the panel with his mysterious illusions. Michel also made a lasting impression on the viewers as he would make a return appearance on 19 March 1978 on the Viewers Request Show, where acts that hadn’t won nor scored one hundred points on their first appearance were given a second chance based on the number of letters received by the show.

Michel Henry, was a very mystifying man who stopped watches, bent and broke keys and made money appear from nowhere. He was billed in show listings as ‘the most unusual entertainer of them all’ and ‘The Midland’s own Geller’ presumably due to his ability to ‘bend’ solid objects.

Between October and December 1976 Michel was appearing with New Faces series two finalist in The Johnny Carroll Show. Also on the bill for that show was guitarist Ian Lockyer who would go on to make his New Faces appearance in February 1978.

Back in May 1975 Michel had made a very successful appearance at the Crystal Room, Hereford. His performance earned fantastic plaudits from the venue who were quoted as saying, ‘the management and staff wish to thank Michel Henry for a fantastic week playing to capacity audiences at the Crystal Room, Hereford. We cannot remember a supporting artiste ever making a bigger impression with the audience.’

On Boxing Day 1974 Michel had been a guest on ATVs The Golden Shot, hosted by Bob Monkhouse. The show also featured singers Tony Christie and Max Bygraves and Crossroads star and New Faces judge, from series one and two, Noele Gordon.

The stylish Climax band who opened the show and performed their own song New Faces.
Image: ATV Broadcast

The London group Climax, fronted by Ray Markham, opened the show and performed one of their own songs, appropriately titled New Faces. The lead singer of the group performed holding a lit cigar and was sporting a monocle.

After their performance the judges had plenty of encouraging comments for the group and awarded them a respectable 95 points (31 for Presentation, 33 for content and 31 for Entertainment Value);

  • Tony Hatch – ‘I think they are a very good band. The one important ingredient they’ve got is style’
  • George Elrick – ‘I think they’ve got to rehearse a little bit more. There are seven of them and I would like to hear them play as one. They are entertaining, very entertaining and they should make it’
  • John Smith – ‘A catchy number…an interesting group, plenty of musical power behind them’
  • Ken Irwin – ‘I like the gear, I love the monocle and the cigar…they look like Chicago gangsters. You need a gimmick, I think they’ve got the sort of gimmick with their dress’

Both John Smith and Tony Hatch also suggested that their New Faces titled song would make a good alternative theme tune for the show.

Ray Markham and the Climax Band had formed a year earlier and were made up of session musicians and a singer, songwriter instrumentalist. Ray Markham had worked as musical director with Butlins for seven years which gave him plenty of contacts in the business and they had played a twenty week season at Butlins, Minehead earlier in the year, which was a great success.

After appearing on New Faces they were approached by P&O cruises which resulted in them making guest band appearances on the company’s Canaries cruises. By the end of the year they had also appeared on another P&O liner for a Christmas cruise to Rio.

An advert in The Stage stated that they appeared on this show and also the show the following week (Show 6.10 – 12th Nov 1077), which is highly unusual given that the show was not a Winners or Near Misses show. I have been unable to confirm if the advert claims are accurate but if you do believe what was printed then this makes them a very unique New Faces act by appearing on two consecutive shows that did not feature winners or near misses acts.

A brief clip of Climax performing their own song, appropriately title New Faces, on the show.
Port Talbot vocalist Johnny Tudor.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The popular Welsh entertainer Johnny Tudor, a singer in the style of Frankie Vaughan, sang a number called The Snake. Just over two years before his New Faces appearance Johnny Tudor had appeared in Johnny Tudor in Cabaret on BBC One Wales, which according to the rules of the show made him just eligible for this New Faces appearance.

Johnny had been performing since the mid-sixties and in July 1966 he had supported, American jazz vocalist, Dakota Staton in a Paul Raymond show at the Celebrite. In the show he sang, danced and performed a string of impressions which included his version of Dorothy Squires. In the same month he appeared as a support act for the future New Faces judge Lonnie Donegan, in his self-titled show at the Gaiety Theatre, Rhyl.

In 1969, Johnny made four appearances on Opportunity Knocks and secured his own television series on Welsh TV and ended the year in pantomime at the Grand Theatre, Swansea playing title role in Robinson Crusoe.

Also in 1969, at the age of 25, Johnny was part of the team that represented Great Britain in the European Song Cup in Belgium, with the song Steal A Million Kisses, where they finished runners-up to Spain. Even though he was relatively unknown, compared to the other four performers in the team, he had in fact been in show business since he was a youngster and had recently been an outright winner on Opportunity Knocks. His father was pianist Bert Cecil, and his mother was a dancer. In the previous three years Johnny had appeared in two West End musicals, was resident singer on a Welsh television series, released a couple of records and played the Northern night clubs with his act in which he impersonated Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, and Frankie Vaughan.

Johnny Tudor with Dorothy Squires outside the Cardiff Capitol Theatre. Image @TudorJohnny

In the early seventies Johnny continued his supporting roles, appearing in the Dorothy Squires Show at the Capitol, Cardiff alongside another New Faces act, Pancho Villa, as well appearing in a nationwide tour the Llanelli singer. He also provided support for Gerry Marsden, Dick Emery, Gene Pitney, Harry Secombe and future New Faces show winner Stella Starr. During this period he also became one of the most travelled singers in Wales, visiting Australia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Capetown, Nairobi and Italy.

After his appearance on New Faces Johnny continued to perform and in 1979 he appeared at Clacton’s West Cliff Theatre with another former New Faces act, the dancing magician Guy Kent.

The eighties saw Johnny play the world famous casino Monte Carlo, the five-star Royal Swazi Spa Hotel, Swaziland and make a television appearance on quiz show 3-2-1, where he renewed his acquaintance with comedian Ted Rogers as they had appeared together in the 1982 pantomime Aladdin in Cardiff.

In 1992 Johnny was entertaining holidaymakers at the Barry Island Resort Holiday Centre with his impressions of Johnny Mathis, Anthony Newley, Sammy Davis Jnr., Frankie Vaughan and Tom Jones. He was back in Barry Island, this time at the Gaiety Theatre, in 1994 when he was treating the audience to more of his uncanny impressions, which now included Barry Manilow and his own self-penned parody of the Tom Jones hit The Green, Green Grass Of Home.

He was back in Barry Island once more in 2008, but this time in a television role in the second series of BBC sitcom Gavin & Stacey, where he played the D.J. Dai and Johnny the bingo caller. He returned to the show for series three in 2009, this time playing café owner Marco.

In addition to his pantomime and other television work Johnny’s is now also a successful author with the publication of his books My Heart Is Bleeding (The Life Of Dorothy Squires) and Peg’s Boys. His latest project is a podcast with fellow Welsh musician, Swansea-born composer and broadcaster Mal Pope titled The Mal & Johnny Show.

Credit: Chris Perry (Kaleidoscope) and Charles Daniels (@ukoddball) for their help with some of the details for this show.

Archive: Copy of Climax and Flash’s performances discovered by Kaleidoscope

2 thoughts on “5 Nov 77 – Series Six (9)

  1. I so enjoy reading these posts. The level of researched detail is extraordinary and fascinating. In my early career as a speciality puppet act I met and/or worked with a number of fellow New Faces winners so it is interesting to read their stories.
    Please keep the posts coming, then maybe a book of them all? I’ve created two ‘Blurb’ web based books cataloguing my puppet collection – the format might suit a library of your posts.
    Best wishes
    Nick Thomas MBE
    (aka Tommer Puppets in 1975!)

    Like

    1. Hi Nick
      Hope you are well.
      Lovely message to wake up to this morning. I plan to complete the whole six series and have plans to document the much shorter 80s Central TV revival too.
      It takes quite a while to document each show, as you can imagine, but I’m finding it fascinating too, so it’s pleasing to hear you are enjoying the updates as well.

      Like

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