After being discovered on the Newcastle club circuit, by August 1972 Bruce Thompson was entertaining and including holidaymakers in his unusual offering of comedy and instrumentals in his one-man band summer season for Pontins.
In 1973 he appeared on Hughie Green’s Opportunity Knocks making him one of the few New Faces contestants to appear on both of the 1970s talent shows.
On his New Faces heat Bruce sang One Man Band, a song written by Alan Randall, three years earlier. He later released this track as the B side of his single My World Is A Football, released on the Pye record label. Both songs were arranged by New Faces musical director Johnny Patrick and were produced by Alan A. Freeman, a member of the judges panel for the heat Bruce appeared on.
Bruce’s popularity with the viewers at home, with four out of five votes received selecting Bruce, saw him return to New Faces in the Viewers Winners Final on 7 June 1975 where he was beaten by a young Dudley comedy impersonator named Lenny Henry.
After his success on New Faces Bruce worked with Lenny Henry once more when he joined Saturday morning children’s TV show Tiswas as their resident musician. He’s appeared on Play School, Little & Large, Zig & Zag, The Big Breakfast and The Priory, where he even managed to transform Zoe Ball into a one-woman band.
One of his most memorable television appearances was when he provided, according to Bruce Forsyth, ‘one of the funniest games we’ve ever had’ on The Generation Game, where contestants tried to copy his musical skills.
He’s been a warm-up man for many TV shows including, Every Second Counts with Paul Daniels and Blankety Blank with Les Dawson. He’s a member of MENSA and has displayed his excellent general knowledge on episodes of The Weakest Link and Eggheads.
Bruce appeared on his third talent show when he won through the auditions of Let Me Entertain You on BBC2, hosted by Brian Conley. Bruce appeared on show two of week four of the programme but lost out to 15 year-old singer Emily from Grimsby.
His unique act of musical skill, comedy and audience participation have made him a hugely successful cabaret act. He has worked on many different cruise liners, appeared at Ladbroke Warners hotels and in pantomime, toured with comedian Jethro and was even heard on Radio Five Lives coverage of the London 2012 Olympics.
Eleven years after his New Faces appearance a review of a showcase in The Stage heaped Bruce’s show with praise, “Thompson is the best in his class, eminently worthy of star status and heading his own show in summer season…he is a guaranteed club filler and audience – any audience – pleaser.”
Nearly 45 years after his appearance on ATVs New Faces, Bruce Thompson’s unique brand of entertainment is still going strong and he’s still in huge demand.
Sadly the recording of his New Faces heat no longer exists, but this clip of Bruce appearing on the Today with Des and Mel TV show, where he played a short medley of songs, perfectly shows off his unique and fun act.