In conversation with 70s ‘New Faces’ winner Helen Day

From the tender age of three, starring in pantomimes and shows performing songs, Helen Coleman from New Ollerton in Nottinghamshire was surely going to become a star one DAY.

Helen performed in front of Tommy Steele, Joe Brown, Cardew Robinson and many more at the age of fifteen for The Grand Order of Water Rats – the British entertainment industry fraternity and charitable organisation that was founded in 1889 for music hall comedians. To this DAY, it still has only high-profile members from the entertainment industry.

Working the entertainment circuit alongside Tommy Cooper, the New York band The Fantastics, the American Motown group The Elgins, singer and song writer Johnnie Ray and many more…surely one DAY…

In 1974 that DAY came with flashing lights and a standing ovation with a win on the hit television and star-seeking show, ‘New Faces’. A star was born  HELEN DAY.

In this exclusive interview for Talking About My Generation, Helen Day, who has been living in Queensland, Australia for the past 29 years, shares her blinding success on her entertainment journey of the 1970s and 80s.

New Faces was a talent show that ran from September 1973 to December 1988. It was originally hosted by Derek Hobson, and later by Leslie Crowther then Marti Caine and was shown on ITV. The contestants had to perform in front of four judges and most winners went on to have very good careers in the entertainment business.

Helen says: “I got to know Hull’s resident band and used to see them after my shows and sing a few songs with them. I was given an audition opportunity for New Faces on television, the band came with me and we passed. The Helen Day Band was formed.

“The band wrote the song ‘Superchild’ and we performed it on the show and won; with top marks for star quality and 116 points in total. The judges on the show were; Arthur Askey, George Martin, Clifford Davies and Tony Hatch. After the show Tony signed us and we got a record deal with Phonogram Records on the Philips label.”

Helen, who is a trained singer, actor and dancer joined her first band at the age of thirteen, with ‘Helen and The Perrerstones’ and went on in life to have a lot more success in the entertainment world. Helen moved to Australia in 1993 and went solo, working for Tripple M Radio and doing the clubs entertainment whilst working on the cruise ships. Helen added: “I retired in 2016 and I’m happy in my retirement.”

The Helen Day Band worked all over the world doing all the big clubs. In one national newspaper an article reads:

THE HELEN DAY BAND

New name to me  The Helen Day Band makes a guest appearance to star at the ‘Premiere Nite Spots Allinsons Clubs’ in Litherland week commencing October 26. Word has it that this outfit are just about the most terrific cabaret act in the business today. Make sure you catch them in action – it will be well worth your while.

The Helen Day Band got an offer they couldn’t refuse with the Scottish band, Silk and their tour, ‘The Silk tour of Britain’. With band members including Midge Ure, they were classed as the best band of their time and what made it more impressive is that Silk asked Helen to go with them. Helen added: “It was the greatest compliment I’ve ever had! I was only twenty-one years old at the time, the boys just wanted us to come along with them, it turned out to be an offer I couldn’t refuse.”

Helen Day has rubbed shoulders and shared the same stage as rock and roll country musician, Del Shannon, stand-up comedian Charlie Williams, comedian duo Dustin Gee and Les Dennis (a big hit on ITV), the Liverpudlian band The Merseybeats and famous clarinetist Acker Bilk among many more.

The Helen Day Band changed their name to Helen Day and Catch and recorded several records, one called ‘You can do it better with me’ which had a power play on Radio Luxemburg, but unfortunately charted low in the UK and Australia.

I asked Helen if it has all been plane sailing and if she’s had any disappointments.

Helen replied: “Tony Hatch changed our song ‘Superchild’ and I feel it lost its punch, it never got released which was very sad as it was sure to be a winner. The record company kept me on for six years, but not the band as they were unsettled. So, I changed the band from ‘Helen Day and Catch’ to ‘Helen Day’s Wild Affair’.”

Helen’s bubbly character and positive personality was getting her noticed. Now a stage singer she started getting calls from the television companies with acting parts alongside Minder’sDennis Waterman in Channel Four’s ‘Who’s Our Little Jenny Lynd,’. It was a play made by Yorkshire Television based on the life story of singer, Jenny Lynd who braved a rowdy nightclub audience to take part in a talent contest. Helen said: “I wanted to get better known with the powers-that-be on television, I got put on the books at Central TV.”

Helen got a part in Coronation Street playing a disc jockey at Susan Barlow’s twenty first birthday party. She was also later scouted to be spinning the discs at a wedding reception for Mike Baldwin and Susan Barlow.

Helen added: “You can still see videos of my music performances on YouTube, although it was a long time ago!”

It sure sounds like Helen has had a blast and met some fantastic people along the way, and I would like to thank her for sharing this fantastic inspirational story with me so I can pass it on to the Talking About My Generation readers. I still have memories of the New Faces theme tune, You’re a star’ by Carl Wayne.

Helen Day, you’re a star!

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