The series six Gala Final would be the last of the original run of New Faces shows and to mark the occassion they increased the judges panel by an extra 50% with six judges delivering their marks for the final nine acts of the total of 867* acts that had appeared on the show since the first one on 29 September 1973.
The show opened with the 31 members of the Johnny Patrick Orchestra, finally taking centre stage to play their version of the Theme from Star Wars which included a very small snippet of When You Wish Upon A Star. The shows resident backing group were finally given a full showing as a well-deserved reward for their past efforts. Following the performance the nine qualifying finalists, featuring seven music acts and two comedians, were introduced by Derek Hobson and they were;
- Poacher (six-piece country group) 6.14 & 6.16
- Pat O’Hare (vocalist) 6.2 & 6.7
- Bazz Harris (comedian) 6.3 & 6.11
- Stella Starr (vocalist) 6.10 & 6.16 & 6.28
- Alan J. Bartley (comedian) 6.27 & 6.29
- Patti Boulaye (vocalist) 6.27 & 6.29
- Mike Johnson (jazz guitarist) 6.10 & 6.17
- Kirk St. James (vocalist) 6.19 & 6.23
- Civvy Street (five-piece group) 6.18 & 6.26
Derek Hobson introduced the judges for the show who were Peter Prichard, Rosalie Horner, Danny La Rue and for the fourth time Bernie Rothkopf of the MGM Las Vegas, who was providing the prize of an appearance at the Nevada venue for the winner. The final two judges, described as ‘the Batman and Robin of television,’ were Mickie Most and Tony Hatch, who was making a record breaking sixth final appearance on the judges panel.
Also making an appearance on the show were the series five winners Koffee ‘N’ Kreme who performed as the guest act while the judges considered their scores.
For this very final show Derek Hobson broke with tradition and remained on stage to introduce the first two acts of the show rather than taking his usual place sat next to the judges.
The Warrington Country group Poacher opened the show with their latest song So Afraid and they were quickly followed by vocalist Pat O’Hare who performed the song, Hit And Run Lover, written for him by two of the shows viewers, from Wales.
With Derek Hobson now sat in his usual chair at the end of the judges desk he introduced the third act of the final, comedian Bazz Harris. Bazz began his routine wearing a sombrero, chaps and carrying a suitcase with the words Viva Las Vegas written on the lid. He delivered a number of comedy impressions including Sammy Davis Junior, Dean Martin, James Cagney, Jerry Lewis, John Wayne and Walt Brennan. He finished up with a gag about a Birmingham pub and some bulls heads before being hurried off stage to make way for the next act.
Derek Hobson, now sat next to the orchestra’s pianist Colin, played the opening notes of The Entertainer on the piano before introducing act four, vocalist Stella Starr. Stella, dressed in a full length pink gown complete with matching feather boa and headscarf, performed the Bacharah and David song Here I Am.
Returning from the first advert break, Derek Hobson quickly asked the panel, with the exception of Rosalie Horner, for their views on the first four acts. The general view was that they had all improved since their first appearances with only Mickie Most naming his favourite so far, which was Stella Starr. Bernie Rothkopf provided an update on the success of previous winner Roger de Courcey who, by now, had appeared twice in Las Vegas with Dean Martin.
It was then swiftly on with act five, North East comedian Alan J. Bartley, who delivered a series of gags and one liners dressed in his trademark teddy boy suit that he wore on his first two appearances. During his act he claimed ‘since I’ve been on New Faces I’m on a thousand a week, and the doctor says if I don’t cut them out I’m gonna get a bad chest.’ Following his act Derek Hobson apologised to Bernie Rothkopf for not providing subtitles for him.
Act six was Nigerian vocalist Patti Boulaye, who had scored the maximum 120 points only a few weeks earlier with a Jim Weatherly song and for the final she selected to perform another song by the same composer, I Belong With You. Derek Hobson, now back on stage, introduced the audience to act seven, the jazz guitarist Mike Johnson. On his previous appearances Mike had performed the songs Laura and Here’s That Rainy Day but for the final he chose to perform Misty, a song written by Erroll Garner which had been a hit for Johnny Mathis back in 1959.
The eighth act of the final was Kirk St. James. Kirk was born in Panama, raised in Birmingham but was now based in Portsmouth and was very much a part of the London scene. He chose to perform his new single, the Johnny Bristol song, Love Takes Tears.
Returning after another advert break, with just one act left to perform, Derek Hobson finally asked Rosalie Horner for her views of the show so far. Rosalie thought the judges had an almost impossible task, commenting ‘how do you judge a comic against a marvellous singer, I mean, well I think it’s pretty impossible,’ and she agreed with the previous comments that the standard was much higher than when the acts first appeared. Danny La Rue commented that ‘this programme and another programme has given great opportunity to young stars,’ and he was ‘very sad that the hierarchy had seen fit to take the programme off [air].’
The final act of the show were Rochdale group Civvy Street who sang their latest single S.W.A.L.K. After the final performance Derek Hobson ran through a few of the acts that had been a success as a result of the show. That list included Showaddywaddy, Sweet Sensation, Trevor Chance, Al Dean, Marti Caine, Roger de Courcey, Jim Davidson, Lenny Henry and Bryan Taylor, who had sent a note saying he would have loved to have been at the show but he was working with Lulu in Glasgow.
While the judges considered their scores it was left to Koffee ‘n’ Kreme to entertain the audience. The winners of series five, who were due to make an appearance at the MGM Grand in Reno just two months later, performed the song Nights On Broadway.
It was then back to the judges, who had been fairly quiet so far, to deliver their scores for each act in turn. After the six judges scores for each act had been announced Derek Hobson asked one of the judges to make a comment about the act or explain the score they awarded.
The country group Poacher scored 509 points and Tony Hatch thought ‘they did a very good job.’ He added ‘I’m more in sympathy with the solo artist, that has got to work on their own there doing it all themselves than with the groups, because they can lean on each other.’
Vocalist Pat O’Hare scored 534 points, to take an early lead, with Rosalie Horner awarding him the highest score of the six judges. Justifying her score of 95 points, Rosalie said, ‘I think Pat has a beautiful voice, and I can’t forget that.’
The comedian Bazz Harris scored 498 points with Mickie Most awarding him the lowest score of 78 points. Explaining his marks Mickie said ‘I just thought, in fact, that Bazz was better on the first show than he did come over tonight. It was a question of material, and maybe a little bit of nerves, but it didn’t happen as well as it did on the first show.’
Vocalist Stella Starr received the only maximum marks of the final, which was awarded by Danny La Rue, and scored 554 points to storm into the lead. Danny said ‘I’m judging the artist that leaves Great Britain to represent us in America will be entertaining in a cabaret medium and I see no better artist, for my money, to represent Great Britain in America as a cabaret star, than Stella Starr.’
Comedian Alan J. Bartley scored 522 points with Rosalie Horner awarding him the highest score of the six judges. Rosalie said ‘I thought there was a lot of original stuff there, which I liked, by comparison with Bazz, unfortunately I thought, Bazz, a lot of his material was a bit old and a bit tired, but I was pleasantly surprised with Alan and I think it’s much more difficult for a comedian on this sort of show.’ Danny La Rue agreed it was difficult for comedian, especially character comedians and Tony Hatch added that even though it didn’t look like either comedian would be successful on this show he felt that they would be successful in the entertainment industry in general.
Vocalist Patti Boulaye scored 565 points to claim the lead with her top score coming from the normally critical Tony Hatch. Tony backed his score by saying ‘the minute that she comes on there, there is something very special about her. I think that she has got a great future.’ He added ‘I think especially she has contact and that her facial expressions and her whole way of working is very much of today, very commercial, she has a definite future.’ Despite having only seen Patti perform on this show Bernie Rothkopf thought Tony had summed up Patti’s performance very well and agreed one hundred percent with his comments.
Jazz guitarist Mike Johnson scored 524 with Peter Prichard awarding the highest score of 95 marks. Commenting on his top score Peter said ‘I just like this guy very much, I’ve seen him twice before and he’s a very talented young man, he’s worked very hard at his trade, he’s learnt his instrument and I think he’s going to go far and that’s why I gave him top points.’
Vocalist Kirk St. James recorded five marks in the nineties and scored a total of 543 points. Mickie Most thought Kirk ‘worked very well with the band, and he worked very well with the cameras and he’s got a very, very infectious voice and is probably, currently, the sound of his voice is currently what’s popular right now, disco wise anyway.’
The final act, Civvy Street, had waited patiently for their marks and the judges awarded them a total of 530 points. With the result now confirmed the group didn’t get benefit of hearing any judges comments as Derek Hobson confirmed that the winner, who amazingly was the final act to audition for the show, was the vocalist Patti Boulaye. Patti was presented with her golden busker trophy by ATV’s director of productions, Francis Essex, who said to Patti he was ‘very proud to have launched you on a marvellous career, well done and congratulations.’ After Derek Hobson made up a few more numbers, claiming there had been ‘170 shows and something like a thousand acts*’ the stage was showered in balloons and a trolly of champagne was wheeled on as the credits rolled and the curtain came down on the final show.
A surprise offer for Poacher
Poacher’s Stan Bennett commented on the result afterwards saying ‘the dice was loaded against us, and that’s not sour grapes. It just had to he a solo act for Vegas and we anticipated the result. But it was never going to be a wasted journey for us. After all, we were given three minutes of television in which to advertise our talents, and it would have cost us a small fortune to buy that time. The programme has worked wondersfor us. The exposure has really launched us, and we haVe progressed from £40 or £50 a gig to £200 or £250. That’s not bad.’
While the result didn’t go Poacher’s way on the night they did end up with an offer to play in the United States when Bernie Rothkopf offered them an initial four week booking to play at one of his new hotels, joining artists such as Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and The Carpenters in a list of acts booked by the millionaire MGM hotelier. Bernie was quoted as saying ‘These lads are really something. They’ll be a wow in Reno where I am currently building a new hotel.’ When questioned on why his enthusiasm didn’t reflect in his scores on the show he said, ‘I don’t believe they sang the right number. But I was sure they had much more to offer, and when I spoke to Tim [Poacher’s lead singer] he proved my hunch was correct. They are quite special, and I’m very pleased they have accepted my offer.’
The six members of Poacher, Tim Flaherty, Stan Bennett, Alan Crookes, Peter Longbottom, Pete Heywood and Adrian Hart made a triumphant return to Warrington aboard an open-topped bus which had collected them from ATV’s Birmingham Studios on Broad Street.
The Thursday after the show it was reported that the result was being challenged by Robert Freedman, the manager of runner-up Stella Starr. Robert claimed Patti Boulaye had broken the shows rules and wanted her disqualified. He claimed that the show was supposed to be for British artists and Patti didn’t have a British passport and that Patti was in also breach of the rules because she had appeared on TV in other shows several times last year. He also complained to ATV about the camerawork claiming ‘they shot Stella from all the wrong angles. There was also a bad sound fault when Stella was performing.’ He added ‘I have lodged a very strong protest with ATV, Patti Boulaye should not have been allowed to take part in New Faces.’
ATV quickly rejected his numerous complaints with a spokesman comfirming ‘we are satisfied that Patti Boulaye has not broken any rules. Our rules state that no artist on New Faces should have appeared on any other nationally networked TV show for two years doing the same kind of act. We do not regard Patti’s small acting part in The Fosters comedy show, or her brief appearance in a Bruce Forsyth TV special with a crowd of other girls, as breaking the rules.’
With the result standing the final scores for each act from each of the six judges was as follows.
|Act||Peter Prichard||Rosalie Horner||Danny La Rue||Bernie Rothkopf||Mickie Most||Tony Hatch||Total Score|
|Kirk St. James||89||91||92||90||91||90||543|
|Alan J. Bartley||87||91||90||86||84||84||522|
Archive: A copy is held by the BFI – Work – 572364
* Derek Hobson opened the show claiming the total number of acts had been counted and was 933 (and he rounded this up to around a thousand by the end of the show), however, this seems a little exaggerated and my calculated total of 867, quoted above, takes into account repeat appearances by the same act, and seems more accurate. His claim at the end of the show of 170 shows was slightly closer, with 164 shows across six series plus the one regional and one network pilots.