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Punk Britannia on BBC Four and 6 Music

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James Stirling (6 Music) James Stirling (6 Music) | 17:06 UK time, Monday, 28 May 2012

John Lydon

John Lydon (Photo: Andy Dunn)

June 2012 is a month of big anniversaries across the UK and in my role at BBC Radio 6 Music, I have had the pleasure of piecing together our Punk Britannia season alongside colleagues at BBC Four.

Punk Britannia marks 35 years since Punk’s heyday in 1977, which exploded across the country during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. BBC Four will focus their content around an insightful three-part documentary series, which will be supported by additional programming and BBC Radio 6 Music will feature a range of curated shows from some of punk’s most iconic names, alongside a series of themed shows.

It all starts on BBC Radio 6 Music with John Lydon on Friday 1 June from 12am-1am. As a teenager, Rotten Lydon (as he wonderfully refers to himself in the show) announced himself to the world as the focal point of British punk. Combining a healthy distain for current music trends and illustrated by a polarising fashion sense, the Sex Pistols spearheaded a musical revolution still reverberating today. His views on popular culture and subsequent career with Public Image Limited and collaboration with hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa cemented his importance to the British music scene.

John Lydon’s Playlist takes us on a journey through his record collection, making some surprising stops on the way. The shows include music from and stories about – T-Rex, Black Sabbath, Edith Piaf, Petula Clark, Johnny Cash and ABBA.


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One of Punk’s most iconic figures, Siouxsie Sioux (10 June, 12-1pm) shares her inspirations from the world of music and arts. New York innovator Patti Smith (17 June, 12-1pm) showcases the variety of her tastes in her playlist and The Damned’s Captain Sensible (24 June, 12-1pm), picks out his music highlights and reminisces on the explosive years of punk.

There will also be specialist punk-themed shows throughout the month - including two Now Playing @ 6 Music specials (3 and 17 June, 6-8pm) where Tom Robinson invites listeners to collaborate on a British and US Punk playlist.

Documentary A Tale of Two Punk Cities (17 June, 8-10pm), looks at both London and New York’s claim on the genre. Its presenter, Vivien Goldman has the best job title in the world - Professor of Punk and Reggae at New York University. Vivien is also a founding member of The Flying Lizards and has the best punk anecdotes I have ever heard. She knows everybody! The documentary hears opinions from a choice selection of musicians, including The Pistols, Chrissie Hynde, Siouxsie Sioux, Lenny Kaye, Neneh Cherry, The Slits and Public Enemy. The show delves into the worlds of punk, reggae & hip hop – highlighting the cultural exchanges which formed the majority of current music trends and it’s a great listen.

On 25 June from midnight-1am, DJ Don Letts will musically recreate one of his legendary Punky Reggae nights from London club The Roxy, live from the Radio 6 Music studios. Huey Morgan also celebrates the musical legacy of his hometown with a New York special (17 June, 1-4pm) and listeners will also hear from the Sex Pistol’s guitarist Steve Jones from LA (25-28 June, 7-9pm).

BBC Four’s three part music documentary series, Punk Britannia, traces the historic cosmology, meteoric impact and smouldering aftermath of the most genuinely transformative force in British popular music history. Kicking off on Friday 1 June at 9pm, part one takes in the early 70s cultural landscape, from the influence of American punk and pub rock, to the Damned and the explosion of the Pistols in 1976. Part two (8 June) focuses on the ‘white heat’ of the punk explosion; looking at how it became the new pop and part three (15 June) is about post-punk and the genre’s development from 78 onwards.

Punk has left a genuine impact on music, attitudes, fashion and art and it’s wonderful to be able to tell the story across BBC Radio and Television. Punk Britannia catches up with the most distinctive voices in a movement that blazed briefly - this first wave of punk happened in a flash - but has never been shut up.


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VIDEO: Watch more exclusive clips from Punk Britannia at BBC Music Showcase


Read the BBC TV blog post by Andy Dunn, director of the first episode of BBC Four's Punk Britannia.


Join us on Twitter using the hashtag #PunkBritannia


At A Glance - Punk Programme Highlights in June:


Friday 01/06/12

6 Music Playlist 1/5: John Lydon (6 Music; midnight)

Punk Britannia 1/3: Pre-Punk 1972-1976 (BBC Four; 9pm)

We Who Wait: TV Smith & The Adverts (BBC Four; 10pm)

Saturday 02/06/12

Stiff at the BBC 1/2 (BBC Four; 0.55am) 

Stiff at the BBC 2/2 (BBC Four; 1.25am)

Classic Concert: Sex Pistols at Finsbury Park, 1996 (6 Music; 2am)

Anarchy in the UK 1/2 (6 Music; 4am)

Sunday 03/06/12

Anarchy in the UK 2/2 (6 Music; 4am)

6 Music Playlist 2/5: John Lydon pt 2 (6 Music; midday)

Now Playing @ 6 Music Punk Special (6 Music; 6pm)

Monday 04/06/12

Evidently... John Cooper Clarke (BBC Four; 0.30am)

The Live Music Hour: Siousxie and the Banshees (1981) (6 Music; 3am)

My Way: The Sid Vicious Story (6 Music; 4am)

Tuesday 05/06/12

Punky Reggae Party 1/3 (6 Music; midnight)

Wednesday 06/06/12

The Jam: Made in Britain 1/2 (6 Music; 4am)

Friday 08/06/12

Punk Britannia 2/3 (BBC Four; 9pm)

Sunday 10/06/12

6 Music Playlist 3/5: Siouxsie (6 Music; midday)

Friday 15/06/12

Punk Britannia 3/3 (BBC Four; 9pm)

Sunday 17/06/12

6 Music Playlist 4/5: Patti Smith (6 Music; midday)

Now Playing @ 6 Music Punk Special (6 Music; 6pm)

A Punk Tale of Two Cities - Vivien Goldman (6 Music; 8pm)

Sunday 24/06/12

6 Music Playlist 5/5: Captain Sensible (6 Music; midday)




  • Comment number 1.

    How about Goth Britannia as a follow-up?

    Campaign starts here:

  • Comment number 2.

    That time period change my life. Could you include The Diodes "Tired Of Waking Up Tired" and The Demics "New York City". Two Canadian bands that were highly influenced by both scenes. Thanks

  • Comment number 3.

    Thats really funny !!....I tried to use the sex pistols album name Never Mind The Bollx and was told to remove the profanity before my post could be allowed .....nothing changes at the BBC eh!
    I had the privileged of working at the studio where many of the sessions were recorded. I remember some of the Never Mind the wotsits sessions plus hundreds of others. Anyone else out there who worked at AIR?

  • Comment number 4.

    Loving this series, sadly wasnt born when Punk first broke, but wondered if someone could help me identify a tune from episode two. Its about 20mins in when the programme talks about a club called the Roxy in Covent Garden, there is a song which has the line "Four teenagers, who see themselves as strangers." I have tried searching the lyrics on google to no avaial and wonder if anyone can point me in the right direction? thank you

  • Comment number 5.

    Not sure if my last post worked - its "Bored Teenagers" by The Adverts.

  • Comment number 6.

    Right, think I've got the hang of this now.

    wreckthedisco, check out for more info on The Adverts and their leader/songwriter TV Smith. He was also recently featured on the "We Who Wait" documentary as part of Punk Britannia. There are loads of great TV Smith songs out there for you to check out - enjoy!

  • Comment number 7.

    Not long left on the iPlayer if you missed it:

  • Comment number 8.

    Where did they get that chart with the blanked out number one? The actual number one was Rod Stewart, and the singles listed at 2, 3, 4 and 5 were actually at 24, 29, 23 and 13 respectively that week. None of them ever got higher than 8 – the Queen EP peaked at 17; the other three all peaked at 8. Far from being “erased from the charts” (as claimed by Julien Temple), God Save the Queen was at number 2. It's only natural that conspiracy theorists would claim it was deliberately kept off number one in jubilee week, but there's really no evidence to support this.


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