29 Jan 1978 – Series Six (21)

Joint winner, vocalist, Ann O’Brien.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

It was an all male judging panel on show twenty-one of the series. Watching, offering their opinions and scoring the acts on the show were George Elrick, Shaw Taylor, Terry Wogan and Lionel Blair.

Derek Hobson presented seven new acts looking for approval from the panel and a place in the next All Winners show just two weeks later. They were;

  • Superstride (six-piece showgroup) from Liverpool
  • Pete John Mitchell (comedian) from Middlesbrough
  • Ann O’Brien (vocalist) from Timperley, Greater Manchester
  • Rogers & Hammersmith (comedy duo) from Liverpool
  • Colin Anthony (vocalist) from London – see show 3.26
  • The Pattons Trio (vocal / guitar trio) from Merseyside
  • 8Past & Present (four-piece group) from Bromsgrove

The judges were unable to spilt two acts and declared the joint winners as vocalist Ann O’Brien and comedian Pete John Mitchell, both scoring 103 points.

The golden voice of Ann O’Brien, who performed a song from the musical Kismet, had a double reason to celebrate as just a few weeks after this appearance she was part of the Ken Dodd Laughter Show at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. At the time of her appearance on the show Ann was on a four week winning run on BBC North West’s Have A Good Sing which prompted the Manchester Evening News to bill her as ‘one of the finest voices in the North West at the moment.’ As the BBC show was a local production, rather than a nationally broadcast show, this didn’t exclude Ann from appearing on New Faces, where the judges declared, ‘she’ll never be out of work.’

In March 1977 Ann was performing on stage with the Cheshire Amateur Operatic Society, playing the role of Meg Brockie in Brigadoon. Later the same year Ann took the lead role of Eliza Doolittle in the society’s performance of My Fair Lady. In the months after her New Faces success Ann played shows at the Lyceum Strand, Gaumont Long Bar, Manchester, Lancastrian Hall, Manchester and the Theatre Royal St. Helens where she supported Ken Dodd.

By 1979 Ann, had completed two tours of the Northern Ireland bases, starred in the MECAA Command Performance and had appeared in seven Ken Dodd shows. Ann was now commanding work at top cabaret venues and social clubs, and was keeping exceptionally busy. In between shows she appeared in television shows Coronation Street, Crown Court, House of Carradus and Collision Course. Ann also earned the Manchester Evening News Oscar for outstanding acting and singing, which recognised her ability to adapt her beautiful voice quickly from pop to light opera.

In July 1979 Ann organised a variety show in aid of local charities during Altrincham Festival week at the Garrick Theatre in Altrincham. The show also featured another former New Faces act, George Galway, brother of the famous James and winner of show 4.10. In March 1980 Ann, who was by now receiving American interest in her old-time speciality act, was confirmed for summer shows at the Blackpool Tower and the Butlin’s Metropole, and prior to those an appearance at Stockport’s Romiley Forum with New Faces judge Arthur Askey. In July Ann appeared at the Villa Marina on the Isle of Man and in August she performed around the Mediterranean with P&O Cruises.

In 2010 Ann appeared alongside Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip, which was shown on BBC2. Appearing together in the final episode of the six-part series the trio had to ad-lib their roles in unrehearsed scripts. Ann also began writing bespoke poetry, speeches and magazine articles and began to offer wedding music consultancy advising on the music choices for wedding services.

Joint winner Comedian Pete John Mitchell.
Image © The Stage Media Company Limited

The show joint winner was Pete John Mitchell who started his career back in the 1950s making a name for himself, in Northern clubs, as a big band vocalist with successful duo Scene Two. Pete made the natural progression to his comedy career to make the most of his great gags and his sense of fun.

A few years after his New Faces success, in January 1981, Pete was back on the talent show circuit and was once again a winner, taking the title of the second series of the BBC’s Rising Stars show, recording the highest marks of the series with 888 points. Also appearing in the final of the series, finishing in sixth place, were the group Whiskey Mac, who had won show 4.14 of New Faces in 1976. The Rising Stars show was normally presented by Arthur Askey and Jenny Lee-Wright, however, Arthur was suffering from a bout of shingles so Frankie Vaughan stood in for the final show. Pete, as overall winner of the contest, was given a spot on a major BBC light entertainment programme and also won a cut-glass trophy.

In February and March 1981 Pete recorded a series of Video Stars shows for John Hamp and Granada Television and around that time he also recorded for the BBC radio show Variety Club. Peter also released his self-titled debut LP in 1981 which featured a mixture of songs and jokes. In 1982 Pete appeared on BBC’s Summertime Special which also starred Bernie Winters, with his dog Schnorbitz, Dennis Waterman and Dana.

Liverpool comedy duo Rogers & Hammersmith scored 102 points.
Image: Reach PLC. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited.

Liverpool comedy duo Rogers & Hammersmith scored enough points to earn a return to the show and they appeared in the Winners and Near Misses show the week before the series Grand Final. Mike and Greg Rogers, had been performing together since the days of Liverpool’s Cavern club when they were in a group called the Scorpions. Before their appearance on the show they were known as The Druids but changed their name shortly before the show was recorded. The duo claimed most of there funniest lines came from their children, Mike’s two boys Michael and Steven and Greg’s son Gregory. Some of the comments their children came home from school with were apparently such real gems that they later found themselves in the Rogers and Hammersmith stage act.

They had been working fully professionally at their comedy impression act for a couple of years when they appeared on the show after they progressed into comedy showgroups after the decline of the beat group era and eventually formed their comedy duo. Unlike many impressionists the duo didn’t wheel out the usual Tommy Cooper and James Cagney routines but instead offered Robert Mitchum, Leonard Rossiter, Gene Pitney, Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster and even Benny from Crossroads who all regularly appeared in their live stage show. Their challenge, along with most comedy acts was to condense an hour long act into just three minutes for their television slot.

After their New Faces success Rogers & Hammersmith still had a lot of bookings for The Druids to fulfil but also began to get new bookings under their new name, which caused a great deal of confusion as they were still performing under both names. In June 1978 they decided to end any further confusion by dropping the name The Druids and continuing under the name of Rogers & Hammersmith. Just over twelve months later, in July 1979, the duo reverted back to performing as The Druids and appeared in a Mike Hughes Agency showcase at the British American Tobacco Company’s social club in Orrell in front of visiting VIPs including ATV’s Albert Stevenson the producer of New Faces.

Vocalist Colin Anthony was back on the show nearly three years after his first appearance. Image: ATV Broadcast

Vocalist Colin Anthony was making his second appearance New Faces having been a contestant on series three (show 3.26) in March 1975. Back then he lost out to comedy vocalist Mike Felix, who went on to make the series Gala Final. On this his second appearance he sang the Stevie Wonder song All In Love Is Fair.

As with his first appearance, Colin didn’t have to audition to get a place on the show. Show producer Albert Stevenson saw several of Colin’s performances at the request of Gil Lucas. Colin had first met Gil during his Rock ‘n’ Roll years, when Gil played piano in The Migil Five with Mike Felix, who had won the show on Colin’s first New Faces appearance. Albert told Colin he couldn’t believe he hadn’t won on his first show and he was booked to appear again on this show.

Colin’s recollection of this show brings yet more uncertainty to the integrity of the judges scores. He recalls that on the night in question there was a rumour going around that the show was going to end for good at the end of this series and judge Shaw Taylor was overheard saying that Albert was not going to ‘knobble’ the panel again. Colin had been assured that he would ‘win’ this time around, so that comment didn’t bode well for his appearance.

Colin recalls that other ‘disgraceful events’ took place which he kept well away from, but when it came to his marks from the judges they were very low. Colin remembers that they stopped the show and there was a stand-up row between Albert Stevenson & the panel of judges, in front of the studio audience. He was even told by the musicians that Johnny Patrick threw his baton across the studio in disgust and noted that the production assistants refused to supply refreshments in the recording break to the panel as they would do normally.

After quite a delay the show continued and Colin placed last. He claims he was even assured by Albert that he would re-shoot the results in his favour, but that clearly never happened. Colin’s girlfriend at the time was a dancer and choreographer who had, along with her brother, worked with Lionel Blair, another of the judges, on many occasions, and they both argued about the result.

After the recording the judges, crew and musicians along with the show winner were invited, as was usual for each show, into the Green Room for food and drinks. Unusually, on this occasion, Colin was also invited, where Shaw Taylor apologised to him and confirmed what had really gone on with the voting.

In reaction to the events of the show voting, the week after his appearance on the show Colin posted this advert in The Stage which had this simple message.

Colin Anthony (Loser Of New Faces) would like to thank friends, acquaintances enemies and others for their countless letters, phone calls, concerning Jan 29th edition of New Faces. Special thanks to Albert Stevenson. John Pullen. Johnny Patrick and the Band for their support and Gil Lucas. For those who would still like to book me, ring 01-684 5154

The Stage – 9 February 1978

While Colin was billed as being from London, he was born in Bath, Somerset and in the early 1960s, with his group the Colin Anthony Combo, was the support act for The Beatles right at the the start of their incredible rise to fame.

The previous October Colin had played the lead role of Tom Beckett in the rock opera Rock-a-Bye Beckett, at the Cockpit, Marylebone, London. He was joined in the cast by Magee McNamara, who won New Faces show 3.18 back 1975.

In November 1977 Colin was one of a number of acts to perform at the eleventh Publand Show at London’s Victoria Palace Theatre. The show was released as a live LP, with four tracks by Colin closing side two of the LP. The tracks were Here I Am, With One More Look At You, Watch Closely Now and MacArthur Park. Also appearing on the LP were Gary Wilmot and Judy, winners of show 6.18 who contributed the track We Work Together, which featured on side one.

Vocalist Colin Anthony released the LP Empty Spaces in 1978.
Image: Empty Spaces LP Cover

Colin has had a varied career since appearing on the show. In 1978 Colin released the soft rock LP Empty Spaces. In 1997 Colin was performing as the vocalist with The Glenn Miller Orchestra, singing favourites such as String of Pearls and In The Mood.

In 2001 Colin was unhappy with panel show Jonathan Ross, as on this episode of Only TV But I Like It, a brief clip of Colin performing on this very New Faces show was shown but the answer to the question implied, incorrectly, that Colin was no longer in the entertainment business. The show did air an apology a few episodes later, but Colin maintained it was way too short and he was not altogether satisfied with the way the clip he’d recorded was edited. He was also not impressed with the hosts joke that the show had received hundreds of complaints, mainly from Colin. Colin is still releasing new music and performing today and you can keep up-to-date on his continuing career and purchase his CDs on his website.

The Pattons Trio. Image: Reach PLC. Digitised by Findmypast Newspaper Archive Limited

The Pattons Trio, another Liverpool based act, were formed three years earlier following a conversation overheard in a Netherley pub. Guitarist Ron Patton’s wife called into the pub for her lunch break and heard that a couple that were performing as a musical duo were looking for a lead guitarist.

The musical couple were Pat and John Usher who joined forces with Ron and had been successfully performing together ever since. In November 1975 the trio were performing at the RNA Runcorn branch and in September 1976 they finished fourth in the final of Tetley Bitter’s Search For A Star contest held at Southport’s Floral Hall.

The third Liverpool based act in this show were the soul showcase group Superstride. In September 1976 the group had performed at New Brighton’s, Grand Hotel where the admission fee was just 50p. Just six months after the groups appearance on the show they were advertising in the Liverpool Echo for a ‘funky’ keyboard player or guitarist who must also sing as well as a drummer.

1=Ann O’Brien103
1=Pete John Mitchell103
3Rogers & Hammersmith102
5The Pattons Trio97
6Past & Present92
7Colin Anthony91
The final scores from this show

Credits: Huge thanks to Colin Anthony for his invaluable insight on this show.

Archive: A copy is held by the BFI – Work – 572265

3 thoughts on “29 Jan 1978 – Series Six (21)

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