15 Jan 1978 – Series Six (19)

Having appeared on the very first show of series six back in September 1977 the Sunday People TV critic Hilary Kingsley returned to make only her second appearance on the judges panel. Hilary was joined by Danny La Rue, Michael Aspel and Jimmy Henney to complete the four person panel.

Ipswich group Clown were one of two groups to appear on this show.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

With Derek Hobson once again in the hosts chair the panel watched the following seven new acts;

  • Clown (five-piece group) from Ipswich
  • Dark Horse (four-piece group) from Stoke-on-Trent
  • Ian Simpson (conjuror) from Gorleston-on-Sea
  • New Harmony (vocal duo) from Southampton
  • Pinky Steede (vocalist) from London
  • Harry Pitch (harmonica player) from Maidenhead
  • Kirk St. James (vocalist) from Portsmouth
Winning act Kirk St. James scored 113 points. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The winning act, with a winning score of 113, was vocalist Kirk St James who booked his place on the 12 February All Winners Show. Three other acts, Pinky Steede, Ian Simpson and Harry Pitch, also scored over 100 points and would be seen again on the 5 March 1978 Near Misses show.

Back in 1970 Kirk St. James was performing with the group Bakerloo who played at a pop festival in Kings Bromley on 20 June. The festival was nearly halted by the local council after they feared that up to 5,000 young people may attend and swarm the village ‘like locusts’ and were also concerned the local area had inadequate car parking facilities. The show, organised by the Midland Car Club, did go ahead and it was attended by around just 800 ‘well-behaved’ young people enjoyed the four hours of entertainment which was headlined by the Climax Chicago Blues Band.

In February 1978 Kirk released the single Feel The Music on the Polydor record label. In June of the same year Kirk performed at The Prince Of Wales, Dalston in a charity show in aid of the Leukaemia fund for KIng’s College Hospital. He was joined on the bill by a number of other New Faces acts including show winners Gary Wilmot and Judy, Jim Davidson and Stella Starr. The show raised in excess of £1,000 for the fund. In December 1978 Kirk performed at The Britannia, Fulham, a venue that two days before his appearance had showcased another New Faces winner, Joy Rose.

In the 1980s Kirk formed his own management company, 80s Promotions, and signed a Coventry based band called Paris. The group Paris featured drummer Ted Duggan, who had performed on New Faces on 15 December 1973 with his group Drops Of Brandy.

In 1991 Kirk moved into acting in television and movies with an appearance as a ticket inspector in ITV soap The Bill and as a saxophone player in the movie King Ralph, which starred John Goodman.

Pinky Steede. Image: The Stage Media Company Limited

As one of the acts that scored in excess of 100 points the New Faces viewers would see Bermuda born vocalist Pinky Steede again in the next Near Misses show.

One month after her appearance on the show Pinky was performing on ATV’s All God’s Children Got Rhythm, which featured 20s and 30s Harlem-style music. The cast were introduced by Billy Daniels and performed songs such as Mood Indigo and Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. The same cast, which also included Helen Gelzer, Lon Satton and Elaine Delmar, had previously won rave reviews for their hit London musical Bubbling Brown Sugar.

Twelve months later Pinky was performing and showing her obvious jazz influences at Cafe De Paris and performed numbers such as Love Will Keep Us Together, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Yellow Bird, Woman Smarter Than Man, I Am Woman and concluded with a slow version of I Want To Be Happy.

Harry Pitch. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

Another high scorer, and a performer that would return again, was harmonica player Harry Pitch. Harry’s career had seen him compose and perform on a number of television commercials and his harmonica can be heard on the themes for the shows The Last Of The Summer Wine and Anne Of Green Gables. Harry is also credited as performing on the 1970 number two hit single Groovin` With Mr.Bloe released under the name Mr Bloe.

In addition to his varied session work, Harry, who started as a trumpet player and once led his own band which featured Matt Monro as the singer. Harry established a reputation as both a solo cabaret artist and a jazz harmonica player, and performed at many noted jazz venues around London.

In October 1978 Harry appeared on stage, in costume, at Sadler’s Wells in the English Music Theatre’s production of the Hans Werner Henze opera La Cubana, a score which he rated as one of the most difficult he ever played.

In April 2004 Harry was in the cast of The Good Old Days at City Varieties, Leeds where he performed the theme to The Last Of The Summer Wine on stage and there were very few dry eyes in the house. He was joined on the bill by bill-topper Melvin Hayes (It Ain’t Half Hot Mum) and another former New Faces act, Wendy Barsley, who, performing in appropriate attire, performed some rarely heard music hall numbers which including The Coster Serenade, a song that had been handed down to her by her Mum, who was also a singer.

Ian Simpson was known as The Funjurer. Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The fourth act to score over 100 points on this show was conjurer Ian Simpson. Ian was represented Steve Foster and managed by Dick Condon. Ian was described in The Stage as ‘The Funjurer’ in an advert that stated he was available for cabaret, one-nighters and theatre.

Southampton duo, and husband and wife, New Harmony were selected to appear on the show after they appeared in the Grand Final of the Butlin’s Star Trail talent competition on 27 November 1977. The judges for that competition included Janet Brown and Peter Prichard, both former New Faces judges as well as show producer Albert Stevenson, who offered New Harmony, as well as comedians Phil Jones and Joe Jones, a place on New Faces.

The overall winner of the Butlin’s competition was Welsh comedian Phil Jones, who won £1,000 and the challenge trophy plus a contract for a Butlin’s Summer Season. Merit awards were also given to New Harmony and comedian Joe Jones, who both won £500.

In April 1978 New Harmony provided the support for American singer Diane Solomon on her nine date UK tour. In 1979 the Carpenters-style duo supported comedian, and another New Faces, discovery Nicky Martyn at the New Cresta club in Solihull.

2 thoughts on “15 Jan 1978 – Series Six (19)

  1. I,ve been trying to get the 1974 series 2 of my brother Lennie Leighton comedian, singer and impressionist, but they only have the winners show. Perhaps some one has a recording of it, or more information. It will be interesting to read some feedback. Thanks.

    Like

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