Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sex Pistols swear on Bill Grundy's Thames Television show

The clip, courtesy Thames TV, includes these comments from Thames: "the infamous Sex Pistols interview that appeared on the 'Today' programme -- first transmitted 01/12/1976 -- John Lydon Aka Johnny Rotten and Steve Jones' four letter outbursts made front page headlines and national outrage. These outbursts propelled the band to stardom, making them household names." 

Here is the wikipedia description of the event:

Queen were due to go on the Today show of 1 December 1976 but cancelled their appearance at the last minute. They were replaced by the punk rock band the Sex Pistols, who appeared at short notice, with their entourage in tow. The show was broadcast live and uncensored on weekdays at 18:00, a time when spoken obscenities were forbidden.

The interview began with Grundy introducing the band but he then began to provoke his guests. As he introduced them, he said that "they are as drunk as I am!" Initially, he received mocking but relatively innocuous responses from Glen Matlock. However, Steve Jones, when asked by Grundy what the band had done with the £40,000 given to them by their record company, said: "We fuckin' spent it ain't we?" The obscenity was overlooked by Grundy at the time. Following this, Johnny Rotten, in response to a question about Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Brahms, muttered the word "shit" under his breath. When challenged by Grundy, Lydon said that it was nothing but a "rude word" and asked Grundy to go on with the interview. Grundy insisted that Lydon repeat what he had said. When Lydon did so, Grundy mocked him.

Next, Grundy spoke to Siouxsie Sioux, who appeared as part of the band's entourage. She said, "I really wanted to meet you", to which Grundy responded by saying, "Let's meet after, shall we?" Interpreting this as a sexual comment, Steve Jones responded by calling the interviewer a "dirty sod" and a "dirty old man." Grundy further goaded Jones to "say something outrageous", a challenge that Jones met by calling Grundy a "dirty bastard" and a "dirty fucker". Grundy responded, "What a clever boy(!)" and Jones added "What a fucking rotter!" As the show ended and the credits rolled, Grundy mouthed, "Oh shit" as the band began dancing to the closing theme.

Although Today was only a regional programme for London, it became a national story due to coverage and comment by the tabloid press. As a result, Grundy was suspended for two weeks and Today was cancelled two months later. In a 2008 poll conducted by FremantleMedia, at this point Thames' parent company, the Today show interview was the most requested TV clip ever.

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