It’s Classic Clip Friday – Bill Grundy v. The Sex Pistols


This week, we have a landmark moment in the history of British TV.

On December 1, 1976, at the height of the punk revolution, The Sex Pistols appeared on Today, an early-evening TV news magazine programme presented by Bill Grundy that was broadcast live.

Grundy was renowned as a hard-drinker. The Pistols and their entourage had been left in a green room with a very well-stocked bar for hours before their interview. The resulting three minutes of TV rocked the foundations of the television industry. Remember, this was 1976, early-evening TV, and there had only ever been a couple of cases of swearing, late at night, on TV before then.

The show only aired in London, on the regional ITV network, but it made headlines around the world. The incident all but killed Grundy’s TV career and Today was cancelled a couple of months later.

The interview still pops up fairly regularly on nostalgia TV shows and documentaries about censorship but usually only in the form of edited highlights. Here is a rare, complete version of the interview that someone pieced together from various sources, hence the variable visual and audio quality:

Here is segment from a BBC3 documentary that discusses the incident:

And here is footage with a voiceover from some of the Pistols:

Finally, I’ve mentioned before that people tend to forget that The Goodies had a satirical element to their comedy, mixed in with the slapstick and surrealism. This little clip demonstrates it beautifully:

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