A RETIRED comedian is set to receive an extra special Christmas present this year after his son tracked down a recording of his one and only TV appearance.
Kenneth Elcocks went under the stage name of ‘Kenny Windsor’ when he appeared before 10 million viewers on hit ITV talent show New Faces in 1975.
The performance featured his favourite character, Farmer George, the Shropshire Lad, and earned the comic fourth place on the scoreboard for that week.
It proved to be his only time on the box, however, and over 30 years later, funnyman Kenneth is yet to see his one moment in the spotlight.
But that’s about to change thanks to son Lee, who secretly set out to find a copy of the show (tx 8/2/75) after discovering the mastertape had long-since been wiped.
After only two months searching, the 32-year-old, from Telford, managed to find an old domestic recording in the possession of his dad’s former agent.
The family now plan to surprise Kenneth, 73, with a DVD conversion in time for December 25th.
Speaking to Wiped News, Lee says he left “no stone unturned” in his hunt for the episode.
He said: “Dad has never seen a recording of the show as it went out on air. He said he would love to see it again but probably never would. It was then that I thought I would give it a go and try and get a copy.
“I thought a simple email to ITV would do the trick but back in the early to mid-70s, both they and the BBC recorded over TV shows as tape was expensive.
“I put an appeal out for anybody who may have a recording of the show and the chap who saw it just happened to be my dad’s old agent. He got in touch and confirmed he had a tape.”
Lee got in contact with his local paper, the Shropshire Star, as well as BBC Radio Shropshire and the ATV Network website to publicise his search. He also emailed former New Faces judge Tony Hatch and three of the other acts who had appeared on the show
Earlier this month, he heard back from talent agent Bernie Lewis, who had kept a recording on a Phillips N1500 tape along with a “boxful” of promotional posters, photographs and other things.
Lee is now looking forward to finally getting to see his dad on the small screen.
“The tape has not been stored in an attic but in a cupboard in the house, so hopefully the recording will still be OK.
“I already have a contact who will convert it for for me, Colin McCormick from Video99, and I’m sure he will try his best.
“I cannot wait to see it. I’ve never seen a moving image of my dad in his younger days, He was 36 when he speared on the show. He will be amazed I’m sure and we may even see some tears.”
According to Lee, his father’s low score on the night was down to a last-minute change of material.
He said: “He had rehearsed four times during the day and everything was going well, but just before the main recording one of the staff at the show told him that he couldn’t do a major piece of the act, because the joke was not suitable for 6pm on a Saturday night!
“He had to drop that part of the act last minute and quickly had to think of something else to fill the time.”
Lee added: “The winner of that nights show was a chap called Dennis D’ell, who back in the mid sixties was the lead singer in a band called The Honeycombs who had a number one hit with ‘Have I the Right?
“The day after there was a story in a national newspaper saying that he should have never have been on the show, let alone allowed to win it as he was already ‘famous’. It was a bit of a scandal, but nothing compared to the X-Factor scandals you get now!”
Lee plans to visit his father, who lives in Bath, on December 4th and present him with the DVD and memorabilia, along with a scrapbook about the quest to find it.
“His old scrapbook now has the empty pages filled with every email and all the newspaper media he’s had recently but knows nothing about,” said Lee.
“I’ve told his wife that we will be visiting on the 4th December with the recording. She is over the moon, and sworn to secrecy!”
In his hunt, Lee has also found an audio recording of another lost episode of New Faces, and now means to go on tracking down old episodes.
He said: “I had a reply to one of my appeals that went out on ATV network from a chap who also appeared on New Faces, but had not got a copy.
“The show, broadcast December 3, 1977, features the band he was in, Dry Ice, but it seems the episode is not in the ITV archives.
“It turns out the man does, however, have an audio copy of the show, which is better than nothing.
“My dad’s old agent has also said something very interesting. He had acts before and after my dad who also went on New Faces, and he has tapes of them all!
“What condition – I don’t know – but watch this space!”
Running between 29 September, 1973 and April 2, 1978, New Faces was famous for being a tough talent show .
It was produced in Birmingham by ATV in front of a live studio audience and became notorious for regular panellist Tony Hatch’s scathing critique of some acts.
Other regulars judges included Terry Wogan, Clive James, Noel Edmonds and Arthur Askey.
Many early episodes have been lost including both Lenny Henry and Victoria Wood’s appearances, though VHS copies of these have since been located.
The show was revived briefly by Central from 1986 to 1988 and hosted by former winner, comedienne Marti Caine.
READ ON: The ATV News Network story can be found here. The story as it appeared in the Shropshire Star is here. WordPress blog Excerpts from a 70′s Teenage Rock Opera has a post sharing personal memories of watching New Faces back in the seventies.