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Punk Britannia: Do you remember 1976?

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Andy Dunn Andy Dunn | 13:33 UK time, Wednesday, 30 May 2012

June 2012, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, a heatwave in the headlines and a double-dip recession well underway.

What better time for BBC Four's Britannia strand to tackle the story of British punk?

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Watch the Punk Britannia Trailer

My sister was born slap bang in the middle of the summer of 1976, my all-time favourite film Taxi Driver came out that year and of course in those 12 months punk rock mutated from a few like-minded London bands to the national cultural phenomenon we know it to be today...

... but I wasn't there.

My sister is a couple of years older and by the time I came along post punk and new wave were well underway and punk had been reduced to an excessive hairstyle on a postcard.

So it was with an open mind that myself and the two other thirty-something directors set out to tell the story of Punk Britannia.

Well it's our version of the story at least.

It's impossible to tell THE story (if that even exists) so we decided firstly to follow the music, wherever possible to hear the story from the horse's mouth and attempt to convey a sense of the conditions in 70s Britain that gave rise to this most confrontational genre of rock.

Each episode had its own distinct challenges.

I directed the first programme in the three-part series.

To be honest it's the bit most documentaries on punk fast forward through to get to the juicy controversy of the Sex Pistols swearing on telly and upsetting the Queen.

But for me the fact that this early period (1971-1976) is less well trodden made it all the more exciting to explore.

It became clear that the origins of punk lie in a generational struggle for identity.

The momentous progress made in music, art and civil rights in the previous decade presided over by 'the hippies' had lost its way by the early 70s.

Kids coming of age in the early 70s did an about turn and began looking back to before the 60s revolution in an attempt to recapture the excitement and simplicity of the original teenagers in 50s America's dances and diners.

Punk's hard, fast tunes and its rebellious, tribal culture owe a great debt to a cast of unsung heroes who decided to launch an attack on the overblown prog rock and stadium super rock which rock 'n' roll had morphed into by the 70s.

John Lydon, lead signer of The Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd performing on stage

John Lydon, lead singer of The Sex Pistols and Public Image Ltd

Alongside the likes of John Lydon, Mick Jones and Paul Weller, many of the characters interviewed in the first programme aren't exactly household names and never will be, but that's what makes them so fascinating.

Knowing that without them there may never have been a Sex Pistols, The Clash or The Jam.

It's this depth that BBC Four can bring to the subject that makes this series different to any previous punk series.

The second episode documents the big moments in punk, but so much more besides and the third episode contains music and stories that have never been seen or heard before.

That said there was no way we could ignore the white heat of the key moments in British punk and for me this boiled down to a diverse cast from Siouxsie Sioux to Humphrey Ocean recounting their collective epiphany on experiencing the Sex Pistols for the very first time.

We also decided where possible to film the interviews with the fine men and women of punk wherever we found them.

Minimal lighting and wide angle shots tell their own unflinching 'where are they now?' story of the cast.

Glamorous punk is not, and to their credit I've never met a group of musicians who remain so dedicated to the values that defined them in their heyday.

Kursaal Flyers

The Kursaal Flyers

My personal highlight has to be the driving soundtrack in the first episode - there are so many rare tracks from bands like The 101ers and The Kursaal Flyers that I hope will inspire people to discover these bands for themselves.

There are also quite a few artists that for various reasons didn't make it into the final cut.

Fitting everything in to 60 minutes was the toughest part of making this and I hope to fit the likes of Jesse Hector into another programme in the future.

He's a true original and leader of The Hammersmith Gorillas (look them up!).

In Punk Britannia we tried to tell it like it was, to celebrate the energy and excitement of the music and acknowledge the social and political effect of the movement.

Oh yes, before I forget, there's SEX, VIOLENCE, SWEARING and SPITTING in there too (phew!).

Andy Dunn is the director of episode one of Punk Britannia.

Punk Britannia starts on Friday, 1 June at 9pm on BBC Four. For further programme times, please see the episode guide.

Read a BBC Music blog post by executive producer James Stirling about the Punk Britannia season of programmes on BBC Four and 6Music.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Looking forward to watching this! Growing up then (I was 16 in 1977) was just the BEST time to be a teenager. Especially for working-class kids in a small town up north, like me, who's future appeared to be mapped out for us. My careers officer ignored my ambitions, and tried to get me a welder's job. Suddenly, along came four almost brilliantly talentless kids, only a year or two older than us, who upset the whole applecart, and showed our generation that you could do anything you wanted, didn't have to accept what was thrust at us and told was good for us. Most people have no idea of the impact this had on us. Those values were truly inspirational, and yes, they remain with me today too. I'm so thankful to have experienced it all in my most formative years, it gave me a political/cultural/artistic awareness I would never otherwise have been exposed to. It gave us control over our own lives/careers/destinies.

    What's really interesting is that today's teenagers are in almost exactly the same conditions, with little happening for them culturally or musically, and no future to look forward to, even if they have degrees. I'm really hoping we'll see a "new" punk, i.e. a birth of something culturally original from today's generation.

    Best books on that time are Jon Savage's 'England's Dreaming" and Greil Marcus' "Lipstick Traces".

  • Comment number 2.

    I was 15 in 1976 and stuck in a small town in Northern Ireland. I first heard about punk via newspaper reports about the now infamous appearance of the Sex Pistols on the Bill Grundy programme and thought 'this is for me!'. I had encountered The Ramones and Television via my local library, but this was something new and relevant, despite being 'across the water'. Luckily Northern Ireland developed a lively punk scene, with bands like Stiff Little Fingers and The Undertones and a great record shop - Good Vibrations - in Belfast.
    I'm really looking forward to the Punk Britannia series, especially the first episode, as the roots of punk get very little coverage normally, yet are vital to the development of the movement. Also love the fact the it is tied in with a whole month of themed programmes on BBC6Music - good to see Siouxsie and Patti Smith getting more attention than usual!

  • Comment number 3.

    Typical, no mention of "The Kings Of Pub Rock" Brinsley Schwarz then? I think it's absolutely disgusting and so does my wife!

  • Comment number 4.

    Looking forward to the show hopefully this won't be a completely 'Jon Savage' influenced removal of the stranglers from the history books. Of all the bands they had the attitude to back it up. Unfortunately they were considered too old and probably too talented musically! The inclusion of sax(Grip) and keyboards probably didnt help. Stranglers have to be the most underrated British band. Still doing it now and as good live now as they have ever been.

  • Comment number 5.

    If you want a really good measured book on the era check out John Robbs book Punk Rock: An Oral History. Much better than Savages

  • Comment number 6.

    Even before this series is broadcast you already know that there will be NO discussions or coverage of seminal anarcho-punk band Crass They were the ONLY band that in 1977 nailed their ideologies of anarchism, peace and DIY firmly on the mast of the good ship punk whilst Messrs Rotten and Co were stuill 'Fri**in (censored by BBC) about in the riggin' of their fashionable commodified version of anarchy sinking in a sea of filthy lucre. For the likes of Joe 'Bummer' and all the other so called punks that sold punk out to the major record labels, Crass were the only punk group of that era that were actually doing it,(Anarchy) rather than playing with it or just insignificantly and casually singing about it . The BBC will no doubt repeat the comfortable glossy coffee -table book version of a narrow punk history that we have become accustomed to. Shame really that the BBC actually had a chance here to do some serious research and highlight the importance and lasting cultural reach that the real underground punk movement had and continues to have. Better luck next time BBC!!

  • Comment number 7.

    Hi, in 1977 I was a teenager playing in a band, and buying lots of singles.
    I appreciate "Punk" did have an effect on the music industry, but it was never as big a deal as all the current hype would have us believe. The music in 1977 was dominated by Soul, Rock, R & B, Reggae and a fair amount of "middle of the road stodge" that we would all wish didn,t exist. Punk looks colourful and interesting to look back on, but it was a small part of the musical scene and seems to influence current programme makers more than the media on the late 1970's.

  • Comment number 8.

    I was 16 in 1977. 1975-76 had been dreadful musically. Ok there was Bowie but not much else. Everything felt old, nothing new was coming through. And then at the tailend of 76 I saw Dr Feelgood at Leicester Demont. Wow what's this? Then care of HRH John Peel I heard the Damned, Clash, Stranglers, XTC, Desperate bicycles, Chelsea, Vibrators, Siouxsie, MC5, New york dolls, stooges, etc. Saw the stranglers live in 77 backed by Steel Pulse, great Brummy reggae. And we laughed at all the boring old farts listening to barclay james harvest, yes and genesis...and now I'm a boring old fart chuntering on about 35 years ago!!! p.s. Hugh Cornwell still looks great.

  • Comment number 9.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 10.

    I was eighteen in '76 and remember punk mainly as a mass of really bad music. It is only in later years that the real quality remains. Bands like The Clash and The Stranglers got lost amid the seemingly millions of bands that suddenly sprang up, encouraged by the fact that they didn't even have to learn E, A, and C, never mind struggle with that damned F. I mostly ignored punk, it didn't seem to have much to offer. It didn't destroy Yes or Hawkwind or Jethro Tull or Pink Floyd or Tangerine Dream and I continued to enjoy all the music that was made by real musicians. Of course, the real punk musicians are still with us to this day, they were simply being savvy at the time. The only real casualty of the mid seventies was Genesis and it was Phil Collins that destroyed them, not punk. Nowadays, music is in great shape due to the industrial machinery that has fed us crap for decades finally dying. I now buy more new music, Deadweather, Faithless, Zomboy, Radiohead, than I ever did. If punk taught us anything, it was to stick two fingers up to the music moguls, and I salute it for that if nothing else.

  • Comment number 11.

    People always talk about punk rock getting rid of the 'old guard',prog rock, MOR,disco etc. like you were supposed to discard everything that you had listened to before,because punk was going to sweep everything away and there would be a new beginning.
    I never stopped listening to Pink Floyd,Donna Summer,Sparks,whatever took my fancy,I enjoyed mixing punk with everything else I listened to,it made no difference to me,if I liked it,I played it,no barriers,that's what punk was supposed to be about,doing whatever gives you a thrill,don't worry about what other people think,be yourself.

  • Comment number 12.

    Loving this so far, you can't under estimate the importance of punk and this period in history, 2012 has the same feeling about it.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 13.

    Thats really funny!! I just tried to use the Pistols album name Never mind the (whotsits) and got a message telling me to remove the profanity before they can post it. Nothing changes at the BBC eh!
    I was privileged to work at the studio where many of the Pistols sessions plus 1000's of others, were recorded. Chaos...Anyone else out there who worked at AIR Studios?

  • Comment number 14.

    Having just watched the programme i cannot believe that having covered pub rock up to the early punk period The Stranglers did not feature at all,i was sixteen at the time growing up in West London and as far as i can remember without any doubt whatsoever The Stranglers were huge not only in London but throughout the UK and they certainly earned it....no other band played more gigs than The Stranglers in the UK during that time, a shocking emission from an otherwise good documentary.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    Just seen part one. Very enjoyable and the attention paid to pub-rock was much appreciated. I wonder, though, whether you've neglected American influences. Iggy Pop & The Stooges received a fleeting mention during a piece about The Sex Pistols, The New York Dolls were rightly credited with stirring up Malcolm Mclaren but I don't recall any reference to The Ramones. During their summer tour of 1976 they had a galvanising influence on Britain's nascent punk scene. I think they merited a sentence or two.

  • Comment number 17.

    Watched episode 1 last night. Where was John Peel. I was aware of punk through tabloid headlines but living in the North did not have access to the London pub scene. So listening to John Peel gave me access to all that was great. I just dont understand how an entire hour on the origins of punk can miss such an important champion of the music.

  • Comment number 18.

    The first episode was great stuff, thanks.

  • Comment number 19.

    As John Lennon said about the Beatles "they were only a pop group". Although the punk bands and the Pub Bands would like us to think they changed the world, actually all they were in it for was the fame and the money. Just listen to John Lydon - he now sounds as he is from the aristocracy and advertises butter!

    Punk, like all pop music, was a way of getting yourself some women and money - it just attracted more disjointed people and their money.

    I have seen all the fashions come and go and, for whatever the musicians say, they are all part of the entertainment machine and not anything too important.

  • Comment number 20.

    Like a bomb going off under you. The last time the rebel spirit of rock was truly alive. There were no half measures with punk, either you felt part of it or you didn't. Those of us who did were waiting for it to happen. I was 22 and living in Sudbury Hill in 1976. Shortly after the Bill Grundy interview I saw two guys in black leather coming out of the underground station one night. One of them had a dog leash and was leading his companion who was bent over with a spiked collar round his neck. He had an expression of sheer madness on his face and his tongue was hanging out. It was such a shocking image for suburban Sudbury Hill. I will never forget the energy and excitement of those years. But it's time for another radical change. Punk fashion and imagery still dominate our culture 36 years on in the same way that hippy flares and long hair did prior to 1976. Was it indeed 'the last chance' as Paul Weller observed and were Burchill and Parsons right to announce that ‘rock is dead?’

  • Comment number 21.

    I enjoyed that Andy - thanks and special big thanks to the programmer(s?) who put it on this weekend for those of us out here desparately searching for something decent to watch other than wall to wall nauseating Jubilee grovel-fest. How many state-sponsored professions of loyalty to the regime can a body take?? At least one person at the BBC realised the answer isn't "an unlimited number"...

  • Comment number 22.

    I agree with Wagonmakeruk about the Ramones. OK I respect the argument that people singing about their own lives , their own country in their own accent was important, but I don't think it would have happened like it did without the Ramones. I would say that, I got their first album in 1976 on the strength of an NME review that made them sound very unusual and different and that was the big punk revelation for me.

    I also agree with Chelseaboy1961 about the Stranglers playing a key part in the first wave of punk. What was that all about though? I'm still not sure. I saw them pre-punk, they were slower and bluesier but definitely showing big Lou Reed/ Velvets influences. They were unusually stroppy on stage too - went off in a huff! In other words they were like J. Strummer, coming into punk in their mid-late 20s but it was a pretty natural transition - not bandwagon-jumping plain and simple.

    I loved some of the Stranglers' first album stuff but it did sound complicated and proggy, didn't really fit in with punk's DIY/ anti-expert-musician ethos. They also seemed pretty messed-up, a bit isolated and paranoid like they had taken too many strong substances...maybe that was it, there was a dark side to the times and with the Stranglers you got an authentic whiff of that? Maybe.

  • Comment number 23.

    Well I enjoyed this episode of Punk britania, it was interesting to hear about the roots of punk however having dealt with the pub rock scene I couldn't help but notice there was no mention of the stranglers who were very active in this scene who transitioned into the punk scene & are to this day still gigging & releasing music. My biggest hope for this series is that not just another BBC pistols-athon but it is not looking likely thus far.

  • Comment number 24.

    I enjoyed the programme, and I'm grateful for the programming decision to broadcast the punk season now, but why did the BBC have to commission 'thirty-something' directors? Wasn't there a fifty-something director who could have got the gig? Then you wouldn't have had to invent a theory - if you'd been there, you'd have known. You say you told 'our version of the story' - what right do you have? It's not your story - it's ours.

  • Comment number 25.

    Now I want to disagree with myself (!) What I said about the Stranglers in Post 22 was off the mark, their songs were not a slice of the dark side even if the wall of macho moodiness they hid behind maybe was. "Grip" and "Hanging Around" were pretty joyous really.

    "No More Heroes" was probably their key single, it brought a different kind of politics into punk. There was no 'trendier than thou' with the Stranglers. They were calling on the lost and lonely, forgotten and frustrated to come out of hiding and have their day. Like Willie72 says they made sure the movement was always about more than the Pistols and their acolytes.

  • Comment number 26.

    Best time to be a teenager?
    I don't think so, you're all getting confused with the 50s and 60s and, let's face it, punk has only ever really been shorthand for 'missed the 60s'.

    Wilko Johnson (born 1947) was far and away the most intelligent and funny interviewee in the programme, and it's no surprise that the stand out act by a considerable margin was Dr Feelgood.
    If transported back to 1975, they'd be the only ones I'd cross the road to see.
    Indeed, I'd go to a Brotherhood of Man concert before I'd go to see the Clash!

    And for all the guff spouted (yet again) by John Lydon, the Feelgoods appear to be only ones who really were outsiders - they were from Canvey Island!!!
    Have you ever been to Canvey Island?

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    I liked the programme. I felt it gave credit to pub rock and Dr Feelgood in particular who are one of the UK's most influential and most neglected bands. The US influence was a bit underdone though. I was at an Undertones gig recently and they played their first album in its entirety (a common occurrence these days) and I was struck by the influence of The Ramones. US punk had a big influence on UK punk.

    I agree that there are social similarities between '76 and today. Johnny Rotten's words about No Future should resonate with today's youth. But music culture no longer seems to be the catalyst for social change it once was!

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    I remember this being done by Nick Abson, yet I don't see him credited on here. I want to support this but I cannot condone copyright infringement. I've also noticed that a user on here by NAbson has had his comments removed, can you please explain this??

  • Comment number 31.

    In 1975 I left my nice secure job in T.V. advertising to join the exciting new world of music videos by joining Rockflicks in their very "punk" offices in the old cinema above Waterloo station. I was prompted to do this by seeing the Dammed's "New Rose" video. (also the Dr. Feelgood "Going Back Home" film that I saw in a cinema)

    I was amazed at the inclusion of Stiff's Dave Robinson assertion about his filming and editing of the "New Rose" video. It was shot on film by Rockflicks for the price of a roll of 16mm. film and would have been impossible to process, edit and conform neg. in the time frame he claims... but as 30 year old directors and producers, you're excused, things are much swifter now. If you want to check out the credentials on the "Stiff, if it ain't... film" Check a little invention called "You Tube" I think that's my face above the producers' credit.

    I hope you are not going to compound the mistake by putting any of the Ramones New Year Eve 1977 at the Rainbow classic footage.

  • Comment number 32.

    I don't think you can exaggerate the impact Punk had on kids. It was so fresh and new and totally reflected the times. You have to remember that in the late 1970s there were few opportunities for kids, same as today really. Punk gave kids a sense of belonging and the feeling that they could aspire to what their heroes and heroines were doing. Some fantastic music emerged from those times, mind, some was truly awful too. I cannot understand though why The Stranglers are rarely mentioned in these types of programmes. They were rather influential and made some great music.

  • Comment number 33.

    hmmm...was deleting comment # 27 about not crediting nor paying the artist for their work?

  • Comment number 34.

    I was 16 in 1976 a Fan of The Stranglers/Clash etc...I dont really like to 'look back', but with 76/77 I allow myself the occasional peak.
    I had such a fantastic time, buying singles, gigs, girls, beer etc etc....it was very exciting........first gig was a very angry Adam and the Ants in Barton Hill Youth Club,Bristol, I walked in and the atmosphere hit me, it was like walking into a very loud, dark zoo............seeing Joe pump his right leg to White Riot in Hyde Park later, watching JJ Burnel dispatch a spitting idiot.......honestly, I wish all teenagers could experience the excitement of 76/77.

  • Comment number 35.

    I was born in 1963 and grew up in west Berkshire (not very rock n roll). In those days the only way I could find about music was pretty much by watching Top of the Pops. I had loved glam but that had died. I remember sometime in late 1976, early 1977 doing my homework (not very punk) listening to Radio 1 and whoever did the teatime show played New Rose as a joke. I recall a quip abut new wave and haircuts. For me it was truly an empithany. I became a punk (there were about 10 of us in Newbury although things were a bit more exciting in Reading) and a little later co-wrote Berkshire first punk fanzine (No Cure).

  • Comment number 36.

    Hello all,
    Thanks for making it such an interesting discussion here. Just to be clear – nabson’s comment has been forwarded to the relevant department and is being handled privately. Please keep your comments coming – episode two is on tomorrow night and it's 1976-78.

  • Comment number 37.

    @ Fiona Wickman
    So Fiona, is this censorship? Some transparency would be nice. Wasn't this what punk rock was all about?

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    I came home from the pub one evening in c1976 turned the Old Grey Whistle Test on and watched a band that changed my musical leanings for ever. DEVO. radiation suits and energy domes,Are We Not Men? and no mention at all.

  • Comment number 40.

    Is it just me, or does anyone else consider it ironic that a blog related to a programme about punk should be suffering from so much censorship??

    It is almost inevitable that documentaries like this will concentrate on the mainstream - you simply cannot fit the history of something as wide-ranging as punk into three one-hour programmes. Kudos to the Beeb for trying, but it will inevitably fail to satisfy, especially those of us that were there.

    "Come and get your punk in Woolworths
    Bondage trousers twelve pounds
    Mohair jumpers sold next to cardigans
    It always comes around
    They make it safe"

    Patrik Fitzgerald (I wonder if he'll rate a mention somewhere among those three hours??)

  • Comment number 41.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 42.

    Hello royksoppmelody #37
    Thanks for your comment and fair point about punk rock. We're not trying to censor anyone so just to clarify here, the reason we're not able to host a public discussion on the blog about nabson's comment on credits is that it's a private matter. We will continue to moderate comments on the blog in the light of that. It's been referred to the right people and is being handled away from the blog, along the right channels.

  • Comment number 43.

    @ Fiona
    Wow, I thought the BBC was a public broadcaster. I suppose we all have a little dirty laundry...

  • Comment number 44.

    Maybe comment #27 may become as famous as John Wilkes' #45

  • Comment number 45.

    Funny, someone was just telling me about Nick Abson the other night. Among other things he directed the UK version of Fraggle Rock. What could be more punk than the Fraggles. Uncle Traveling Matt perhaps being the most punk.

  • Comment number 46.

    No mention of the biggest most successful threatening talented band of the punk era - The Stranglers. The BBC REALLY don't like them do they and are always misinforming people about what was really happening at this time. They weren't manufactured boy bands like the sex pistols or the clash - they were and still are the real thing. Once again a pathetic showing from the BBC.

  • Comment number 47.

    I know that there's only so much you can show. There are always going to be disappointed fans who can remember things differently but the omission of The Stranglers from either the pub rock scene or early punk is ridiculous. Whether you like or hate doesn't come into it. They were there and they were huge in both of these scenes and a massive influence and in such an extensive examination they should have been mentioned. And although I loved them, I am sick to the back teeth about seeing The Clash and Don Letts re carving his name in punk history. Is this the only thing he does? yak on endlessly about The Clash! Oh and don,t get me started about that over used footage of Shane McGowan turning at that Sex Pistols concert. Seriously though, it does make you wonder who the BBC went to for the research. Dreadful in parts. My only hope is that some young people watch it, are bored rigid by these old farts yapping about an apparent revolution that has changed nothing and go out and do something exciting.

  • Comment number 48.

    I am glad to see that I am not the only person that is annoyed by the BBC makung the concious decission to write the stranglers from the history of punk. They were in the first wave and previous to that massively active in the pub rock scene. Can the director please come on here and explain why this decision was made? Does Jon Savage still have final say with the BBC on these matters & is refusing to allow them to be given the credit they are due just because JJ kidnapped him?

  • Comment number 49.

    Again, the fans of The Stranglers are spitting their dummies out. The Stranglers were never punk, JJ classed himself as one yeah, but they were never 'punk' as such. They were lucky enough to make their break in the music industry at the time when labels were signing new bands.
    After seeing episodes 1 & 2 I'm surprised the band never got a mention, but looking back to then I was 13/14 years old, they were never controversial. Yeah the odd 'shock' lyric (Nubiles) but thats all they were ... shock tactics. Think back ... when were they actually in the news ? Mow Malcolm McClaren DID know how to play the media, and he done it very well.
    Yes The Stranglers did have good tune, RATTUS being one of my favourite ever albums ... but admit it ... they were just lucky getting found when thay did ... if 'punk' never came along, I doubt they would have ever got signed.

  • Comment number 50.

    PS .. And, if the band were on ... we'd have had JJ banging on 'again' about the fight they had with The Clash etc etc :-0

  • Comment number 51.

    "There was a climate for things to be radically shaken up" ~ Hugh Cornwell

    Wow 7 seconds of the Stranglers and that from Hugh who left the band in 1990 & here we are in 2012 with the Stranglers as relevant as ever ~ turning out classy numbers and blasting all comers with humming gigs wherever they perform ~ the most successful tour of the year so far..............................

    Could go on and on about Rattus & Heroes aswell as Black & White that started the movement away from Punk. All I'd say is that as a 17 year old they changed music for ever for me. I heard their first single and on the strength of 1 play went to see them live in Manchester & never looked back. Their live music was even more than their recorded output in terms of excitement, immediacy, humour.

    When you talked to them they were simply unlike their two dimensional peers. Not only were they talented musicians, but made intellectual social comment, were observational, were threatening.

    Maybe that is why to this day the BBC gives them a wide berth.

    Impossible to pigeon hole yet clearly a prime mover. They deserve their own page & review.

    Time for the BEEB to write a few wrongs

  • Comment number 52.

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  • Comment number 53.

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  • Comment number 55.

    I was 16 in 1977 and really into punk. It was the energy that got me. And the best band of the time in my opinion were The Stranglers. They produced 2 punk albums. Can anyone really argue that Rattus and Heroes were not punk? They then moved on to post punk. You can see this band this year at numerous festivals across the country and here those tracks from 76/77 live sounding as good as ever. Still rockin'. Without doubt the most successful band of the movement. How they never appeared in the first 2 episodes of this series beggars belief. I agree with the previous comments. Is it just poor research or is there another agenda to change history? Otherwise interesting programme and giving Doctor Feelgood the recognition they deserve.

  • Comment number 56.

    To Realist, 'the Stranglers were never controversial ... when were they actually in the news'.

    This statement shows you have a lack of knowledge of this period or a very poor memory!!!

    And when they were in the news, which was often, it wasn't part of some media management project like the Pistols were involved in (how 'punk' is that?) in order to sell more records and make money for their management company. It was part and parcel of the bands outlook and collective personality.

    We all know the BBC dont like The Stranglers because The Stranglers said and did some very unpleasant things to BBC journalists and this has tainted their judgement of reality (not unusual for any journalist in the BBC) (see John Pilger)

  • Comment number 57.

    Think that the two episodes have been excellent but agree with the other sentiments about the Ramones needed to be mentioned. Infact the non mention of the boys from Queens is quite simply a travesty. I understand that it is about British punk but the historical aspect loses credence without mention of the New York influence from CBGBs. The Ramones' gig at the Roundhouse on July 4th which galvanised British punk was paramount importance with most of the London protagonists in the audience and thereafter stating themselves the vital role it played.

  • Comment number 58.

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  • Comment number 59.

    The reason why The Stranglers have not been included in the prgram so far is that the BBC probably did not want to pay the royalties on the footage. Let's see what happens when they get to the Ramones...

  • Comment number 60.

    Have to disagree that the StrAnglers were not controversial. Indeed throughout the 70s the group seemed to court controversy. One example was when Burnel, a martial arts enthusiast, punched music journalist Jon Savage during a promotional event. Indeed, the bassist was no stranger to settling scores and arguments from on or off stage and viewing negative reviews as personal insults. Featured in tabloids, the group experienced a love/hate affair with journalists. There were frequent “hullabaloos”. These included a ban by the Greater London Council, anti-American comments culminating in the burning of a Stars and Stripes flag and Hugh's wearing of a t-shirt with an apparent swear word on it. Controversy came in the shape of the bands lyrics such as “Peaches” allegations of sexism (the Battersea Park strippers dancing to “Nice n Sleazy” springs to mind!). There was trouble in Sweden, trouble in Australia, kidnapping Journalists, smashing down dressing room doors, storming off stage in Guildford, jail for Hugh Cornwell, riots in Nice and potential jail sentences for all! Unlike most punk bands The Stranglers walked the walk and talked the talk!!

  • Comment number 61.

    If it is just a case of not wanting to pay royalties then they would use no music in the program.

    I didn't see who wrote that the stranglers were not controversial but it was a stranglers gig that got punk bands banned from Glasgow for over 10 years & that is only one of many incidents at gigs over the years. they have to be one of the very few first wave bands to not stop since the 70's.

  • Comment number 62.

    Hi I'm enjoying watching this documentary it does take me back to my early teen years and the birth of the punk movement which I immersed myself into and enjoyed immensely - however how can you make such a programme without reporting on the Stranglers!!!!! THE most talented musicians in my humble opinion at the time and still to this day. Their new studio album Giants is fantastic and original, not a re-release of old songs to make some cash as is the case with a lot of these acts who are "doing the let's make some cash tours". They were at least able to play their instruments back then and are still some of the greatest song writers/musicians/performers this country has ever produced! It's about time the BBC recognised that FACT and did something to honour these amazing artists instead of rattling out the same old tired rhetoric we've all been subjected to regarding the punk era..... Just saying!!!!!

  • Comment number 63.

    Enjoying the series so far even with its big flaws.

    1. Why was half the first episode full of obscure pub rock bands? Those bearded fat blokes in cardigans were the reason punk happened...to blow them all away. 30 minutes of warm ale pub rockers, 30 seconds of Bowie who was the singular key influence on punk.

    2. Where were the Stranglers? After the Pistols the biggest band and massively influential and as punk as any of the media pet bands.

    3. Not enough on the women in punk...a key issue.

    Looking forward to part 3 and maybe a chance to tell the true story of post punk and not the media pet one. This was an error punk, goth, 2 tone, post punk, crass etc...please don't do a whole programme on the Fall and Gang Of Four, fine bands they were but not as influential as Killing Joke etc.

  • Comment number 64.

    PS best book on punk is John Robb's Punk Rock, An Oral History...it's the only one that captures the diversity of the music.

  • Comment number 65.

    I was 18 in 1976 and feel your first two programmes at least have been too focussed on the Sex Pistols and Johnny Rotten's view of what was going on - yes they were a major influence but there was a lot more going on before and during their time. It was left to the Top of the Pops DJ to mention 'New Wave' in passing, even though that is what the music was more often called, initially at least. We heard about pubs closing their doors to the Sex Pistols but what about the venues that embraced the rest of punk - the Marquee, the Roundhouse, the Hope & Anchor etc.? What about Stiff Records?

  • Comment number 66.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 67.

    Well well well.Did The Stranglers ever exist? Not If your the BBC.The Punk Britannia series seems to have decided that The Stranglers were 1:never part of the pub rock scene or 2:Part of the punk movement or New Wave.This is just a farce,maybe the BBC have never forgiven the Band when they walked off "Rock Goes to College" In 1978,because the BBC lied to the band about non students being given tickets as well as the students.The Stranglers omission from the series would be like ignoring "The Beatles" In a series about 60's music.A sham and a total disgrace.Mind you The Stranglers are having the last laugh,touring and making great new music.To the BBC wake up and smell the coffee,you are just ignoring one of the key bands of the period,who went on to redefine post punk after the initial wave with the seminal album "Black & White".

  • Comment number 68.

    Ok we know someone at the Beeb reads this, so why does'nt someone come on and explain why The Stranglers were ignored? Most of the comments on here refer to it so come on Aunty, tell us why.

  • Comment number 69.

    The Stranglers were never Punks/New Wavers, Jet Black was a Jazz drummer with a beard and around before Stonehenge was built, Dave Greenfield worshipped Prog and also had a beard, Hugh Cornwell was a spoon player and played in a folk duo with Richard Thompson and JJ Burnel was once beaten up by Marc Almond.

    Saying that though maybe the BBC should consider a three part series on the band in the near future?

    Thank You
    Sir James Beauchamp

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    Hello all.

    I’d like to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post comments. I hope to address some of your questions here.

    Firstly I’ve enjoyed reading your memories of the punk era and what it meant to many young people at the time.

    Graphis, Green Tigress, Bizzo, Blossom Records, Pat, crisisgirl, Graeme, Richard Griffin – It’s great to hear that Punk really was an exciting and liberating force for you and thousands of others.

    Now to what seem like the two main criticisms of the programmes so far transmitted…

    For the record, I actually love The Stranglers’ music. I can assure you that there is no BBC-wide conscious effort to ignore the band. I can only speak for this series and offer an explanation of why they didn’t feature in Punk Britannia.

    This had nothing to do with whether The Stranglers were ‘punk’ or not, many of the bands included were not pure punk in this sense – it was simply down to the fact that in the course of editing down hundreds of hours of raw material, they just didn’t ‘fit’ the story at the various points they could have been featured.

    I think this is testament to the unique nature of the band, their origins and their music. There were other artists and bands we had filmed interviews with who also didn’t make the cut. It happens every time we make these series unfortunately, we can never include everything and the natural selection of making a coherent argument sometimes has this result.

    I can only apologise to viewers who were disappointed to not see their favourite band in the programmes…

    I also accept the comments about the absence of The Ramones in the series. Many previous documentaries about Punk have reflected the influence of the New York scene in detail. This was something we never intended to do as our focus was strongly on Britain.

    The influence of American acts was of course crucial and it so happened that our interviewees spoke more of seeing The New York Dolls and their appearance on the Old Grey Whistle test was a great example of the two worlds meeting. Their connection with Malcolm McLaren also binds them into the story of the evolution of British punk and that’s why they were chosen to represent the influence of American punk.

    I hope that across the 3 part series and the programming on 6 music we have managed to cover as many aspects of Punk in the season and the significance it had for a generation of Brits in the late 70s and early 80s.

    Thanks again for getting involved in the discussion and I hope you’ll enjoy episode three "Post-Punk" on Friday.


    Andy Dunn

  • Comment number 72.

    Attention: Andy Dunn

    Thank you for your post.
    My comments in Post 51 have been commented on to a degree.

    I issue you a direct challenge:

    If not only do you love the Stranglers music & recognise the unique nature of the band, Please now Write the wrongs of Punk Britannia - go out and for the first time ever Produce a programme about the Stranglers that reflects recognition of their output & their part in Music?

    I can guarantee you it will be an entertaining programme which will quite astonish many as to the breadths of their skills & achievement.

  • Comment number 73.

    Thanks @ Andy Dunn for replying to some of this, although you didn't answer my points.

    You respond to the valid comments about the Stranglers that you chose to ignore them because of 'the natural selection of making a coherent argument'. But there's no point in trying to make a 'coherent argument' if you end up with something that's so selective it gives an entirely false impression. Punk was not just about the Sex Pistols and their friends.

    I've expanded on this in my blog: https://olderthanelvis.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/youre-history-punk-britannia-review.html. But I'd like to ask you again: why do you feel you need such narrow editorialising?

    I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt until after I'd watched episode 2 but there were some huge gaps in there too. Where were the women? Where was John Peel, who did more than anyone to spread the word outside of London? And where were the bands from outside London and the home counties? OK, there was a tokenistic mention of Stiff Little Fingers, but you managed to mention Buzzcocks without actually mentioning the Manchester scene itself. By 1977, every city in the country had its own punk scene, its own club, fanzine, bands, and fans. That was a HUGE part of punk. And a lot of it was more creative, interesting and (long term) influential than the London scene. To ignore this is to omit the biggest part of the story.

    I know it's called Punk Britannia and I understand that's why you've chosen to largely ignore anything from outside the UK. I think that's a mistake, because the UK scene did not happen in a vacuum. But you've also done what a lot of foreigners do – confused 'Britain' with 'London'. That's a huge mistake, and it means that you're never going to tell the whole story - or the true story.

  • Comment number 74.

    To Andy Dunn.I am sorry but your explanation of why The Stranglers were left off punkBritannia,holds no weight with me.Fact The Stranglers were going as a group before The Pistols were a band,The pistols used to see the Stranglers before they formed.Paul Cook ther Pistols drummer used to sit on Jet Black's knee (Stranglers Drummer) and ask how he played.It Is a total disgrace that You have put the Stranglers on the cutting room floor?The programme is totally untrue about alot of aspects.Last point for a more credible commentator of the times,you should have had John Robb (a journalist and ex member of the Membranes)commenting,instead of the rakish Tony (I'm such a cockney)Parsons.Disgusted In Wiltshire.

  • Comment number 75.

    A program about Pub Rock and Punk, and no Stranglers???? What on earth were you thinking?

  • Comment number 76.

    Can I just thank BBC Four for making Punk Britannia. I'm looking forward with bated breath to watching tonight's show. I particularly enjoyed the last segment of last week's show with Stiff Little Fingers and then the discussion of Sham 69, the British National Party and the Anti-Nazi League. It was like entering the Tardis and going back in time. It's amazing how these little snippets of film and the music (of course) conjure up such strong feelings......of course I look forward to the 20 part documentary of The Stranglers which is obviously owing to all of us sad 45-65 year olds.....!!!

  • Comment number 77.

    Episode 3 was worth waiting for! It had most of the things the previous ones were missing. Women. Peel (briefly). The North. (Still no Stranglers though!)

  • Comment number 78.

    I was 14 in 1978 and the album that changed my life and for many of my friends at the time was the Stranglers Black and White album. A collection of songs that exuded a bleak war torn imagery and referenced the cold war dystopia to great effect. The Black side sought to capture death and post apocalyptic destruction with a stark sneer of cold command, whilst the white side reflected a more libertarian utopian landscape where robots rule and armies conquer. The album sleeve depicts each band member silhouetted against a white background symbolising the intense light of an atomic bomb, thus reflecting the entrenched paranoia that existed in the late 1970's. What I don't understood at least is if the Stranglers were not be considered part of the punk there is no doubt that Black and white was the first Post Punk album of any worth and should have been included as an inspiration to post punk.

  • Comment number 79.

    Just watched the final part. Really conventional, i won't say dull, but just as i expected. "After the Pistols, punk died...blah, blah..." Nothing about Anarcho-Punk, the intelligent socio-political activitism of Crass and Conflict that went way beyond music. Nothing about how Anarcho-Punk was the true blossoming of the Pistols/Clash anti-establishment rhetoric. How they challenged Thatcher's government take on the Cold War boosted CND membership, proudly stood up against the Money Men with their Stop the City campaigns, raised the profile of vegetarianism and the ALF, supported environmentalism. I could go on... It would have made a far more interesting programme especially against the background of the current economic situation. They always tell the same mainstream story. A lost opportunity.

  • Comment number 80.

    Watching the entire four programmes it was striking how middle-class nearly all of the musicians turned out to be - apart from Mr Rotten. I am also firmly of the belief that the second and third generation punk bands were far more committed to the anti-commercial nature of the music than the 'originals', as the likes of Charlie Harper keep on producing music despite punk now being unfashionable. Most of all, however, I felt let down as the true voice of working class punk - Oi! -seemed to warrant only 2 minutes worth of coverage. The programme also never fully explored how punk went global, as the punk scene in Germany, to use the best example, is vibrant to this day - via 77 style bands like Zack Zack, Modern Pets and Slime.

  • Comment number 81.

    Actually enjoyed the third episode, still no Stranglers but so what ... they're still living on Hugh Cornwell material, but hats off to John Lydon, never really been a big fan but always had a bit of respect for doing what he does .. and still doing it ...... the track 'Reggie Song' is superb (unlike the stuff on Giants)
    Loved the JD era, and the bands from the early 80's

  • Comment number 82.

    Love em or hate em you can't ignore them and there is no denying the stranglers were an integral part of the pub rock and punk scene.They were there at that time,why pretend otherwise?This programme surely wasn't intended to be a 'story' but a documentry based on fact and the fact is the stranglers were a major part of all era's-the pub scene,the punk explosion and the second wave.

  • Comment number 83.

    Mark at comment 78 spot on fantastic.I will add my last rant on this sham series.Its a stalinist removal of The Stranglers,a total disgrace.Mind you If your talking about post punk.I will just add a few bands that might deserve a mention Killing Joke,Theatre Of Hate,The Meteors.I find it quite amusing the Peter Hook (said It was the Pistols)that were his inspiration really? I suppose his up front lowslung bass style was nothing to do with a certain (jj) from that invisible band?. I could go on but the whole series was flawed.A stalinist revision of events.The first Punk was probably Elvis If the truth be known.It was the british punk scene,but you have to go back further,if you want to examine the british punk scene.Disgusted and outraged in Wiltshire.PS Kraftwerk were also an influence.

  • Comment number 84.

    I can't believe how little reference the Punk Britannia series made to John Peel. We had a few seconds of him in episode 3. In 1976 I was 15 years old and lived in south Sheffield. My friends and I tuned in religiously to John Peel on week day nights between 10 and 12 and he created our evolving musical taste. I remember him playing the whole of side one of Dr Feelgood's 'Stupidity' album and ditto for Buzzcock's 1st and my mind being gently blown. '76-'77 seemed to be transitional years for the man and his show as he left prog behind and embraced punk. My friends and I dutifully followed ...
    Now, I accept that people who lived in London may have had a different route to punk, but for those of us who couldn't get to the Roxy, Peel was our means of exposure to this new music. Fundamentally, it was his personal connection with emerging musicians around the country and his willingness to listen to their demo tapes and play the best of them on his show. He didn't have to go to that trouble, but it is to his eternal credit that he did. Without him a lot of bands would not have had any exposure and would not have survived long enough to make that ground breaking 3rd single ...

  • Comment number 85.

    Enjoyed this, but why so much time on PIL and no mention of The Cure, Killing Joke or goth?
    Also John Peel was so vital.
    Hope you intend to do a Goth Britannia.

  • Comment number 86.

    I thought the pub rock approach was a refreshing change from the US/Maclaren domination they usually regurgitate. So unbelievably naive of me to think this series was going to be different. Don't need to repeat the consensus in previous posts about huge omissions. The final scene of part 3 turned the whole series into a blatant plug by the BBC for PIL's latest recording. The interviewees have no editorial control over the programmes. The Stranglers should be glad not to have been included in this publicity exercise.

  • Comment number 87.

    Anyone who believes the omission of The Stranglers was purely an editorial decision because they didn't fit the 'story' must be seriously deluded. This is the latest in the long line of BBC re-hashes of the punk/new wave period to obliterate The Stranglers from history. For further proof of an anti-stranglers agenda see the coverage of Glastonbury from last year, the band played the festival for the first time to a massive crowd and were strangely absent from the BBC coverage, mmmm...

  • Comment number 88.

    Yes no mention of the Stranglers or coincidentally John Peel who were both targets of badly-informed attacks by Julie Burchill and Tony Parsons-the latter strangely appeared on this series This was a programme that had fascinating archive clips and interviews,but the Stalinist attempt to rewrite punk history and omit bands who were not fu
    lly paid-up members of the SWP was somewhat misguided.In a Channel 4 documentary entitled top 10 of punk in the late 90s-based on record sales-The Stranglers were number 2,behind the excellent Sex Pistols,and ahead of The Clash-whom i also like a lot.Yet no mention on the bbc 4 series.Why not?

  • Comment number 89.

    Ref comment 71 by Andy Dunn.

    Dear Andy, can you please re read the biography of the Stranglers that is on the BBC's very own website. It reads as follows:-

    "The Stranglers are an English punk/rock music group.
    Scoring some 23 UK top 40 singles and 17 UK top 40 albums to date in a career spanning five decades, the Stranglers are the longest-surviving and most "continuously successful" band to have originated in the UK punk scene of the mid to late 1970s. Beginning life as the Guildford Stranglers on 11 September 1974 in Guildford, Surrey, they originally built a following within the mid-1970s pub rock scene. While their aggressive, no-compromise attitude identified them as one of the instigators of the UK punk rock scene that followed, their idiosyncratic approach rarely followed any single musical genre and the group went on to explore a variety of musical styles, from New Wave, art rock and gothic rock through to the sophisticated pop of some of their 1980s output.
    They had major mainstream success with their single "Golden Brown". Their other hits include "No More Heroes", "Peaches", "Always the Sun" and "Skin Deep".
    The Stranglers' early sound was driven by Jean-Jacques Burnel's melodic bass, but also gave prominence to Dave Greenfield's keyboards at a time when the instrument was seen as unfashionable.[citation needed] Their early music was also characterised by the growling vocals and sometimes misanthropic lyrics of both Jean-Jacques Burnel and Hugh Cornwell.[citation needed] Over time, their output gradually grew more refined and sophisticated. Summing up their contribution to popular music, critic Dave Thompson later wrote: "From bad-mannered yobs to purveyors of supreme pop delicacies, the group was responsible for music that may have been ugly and might have been crude – but it was never, ever boring."

    Having re read that can you now please give the real reason you couldn't manage to fit even 5 minutes of the band into 180 minutes of your documentary. You state that there were others who didn't 'make the cut' and that you can 'never include everything' - actually what you've done is blatantly ignored one of the most innovative and successful bands of the 70's and 80's which frankly you should be very embarrassed about.

  • Comment number 90.

    It is a glaring omission Andy re the Stranglers.They may not have been everyone's idea of a punk band but so what,they were there and as such warranted a mention.Just two minutes in three hours would have sufficed.I look forward to a BBC documentary of the swinging sixties minus the Beatles.

  • Comment number 91.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the series and some of the archive material was stunning but like many I was baffled by the Stranglers omission. Maybe the BBC should make a documentary on the Stranglers, why not get John Robb to present it afterall your series took plenty of guidance from his excellent oral history of punk book.

  • Comment number 92.

    I'm sorry Andy but that's a poor excuse (for leaving out the most successful British band of the punk movement). It would be nice if the real reasons could be published. Could it be something to do with the fact that a certain Tony Parsons (Who openly hated the band along with Julie Burchill & Jon Savage) was involved in the making of this programme? To be honest, the BBC have would be as well throwing this documentary in the bin as it's factually incorrect. It would be best (to save the BBC further embarrassment) too maybe avoid the likes of T. Parsons, J. Savage or J. Burchill with assisting with your Punk Documentaries for the future, as these bitter ex journos of the time seem to want too continue with their 35 year petty grievance of The Stranglers. Get a non-biased person to contribute the next time as I'm getting sick of posting the same comments every few years!!

  • Comment number 93.

    Lots of Stranglers related complaints here .. register with a certain Stranglers 'fanclub' forum and you'll see why. Lets all write in and complain, get a petition etc etc ... :-) LOL

  • Comment number 94.

    why do the BBC still continue to ignore the contribution to that musical period of the Stranglers? Probable the best bridge between pub rock and punk. Ok keyboards were included but had more punk attitude than most others put together. Again, another poor attempt to wash over what really went on......'something better change'!!!

  • Comment number 95.

    Dear Andy Dunn. Your credibilty is now completely blown with your 'wishy washy' and lame excuse for not including the Stranglers in your programme to a greater extent. You really don't have a clue about how influential they were at the time and what should have been a compelling programme turned out to be just what to expect from the BBC with regards to the facts about that period.

    looking forward to you picking up the out takes and making a 'real' documentary about those times.

  • Comment number 96.

    I missed the whole series due to work and sound on I player not working,but reading these comments makes me think perhaps I didnt miss much.As a 13 year old in 1977 there were 4 BIG British punk bands Sex Pistols,The Stranglers,The Clash,and The Damned and many more to follow,so the BBC not for the 1st time are just trying to rewrite history.Earlier this year I see The Stranglers in Portsmouth,outside were several local punks handing out leaflets for the forthcoming "Punk by the sea Festival",makes no sense if they were never a punk band!

  • Comment number 97.

    To have a series of programmes spanning the years when The Stranglers were so relevant in so many ways ,and to omit them is a joke to be honest . They started in 74 in the pub rock scene ,they were embraced by the punk scene and then went forward through 78-81 with 4 totally different albums the last one spawning Golden Brown and who are you showing ? The Human League ! Get a Grip

  • Comment number 98.

    In response to Realist_2 - there may well be a campaign by disgruntled fans but that doesn't change the facts. To omit the Stranglers - while spending a while in Ep 1 on the pubs where they had residencies - is either deliberate, or very sloppy journalism. Andy Dunn's responses are lame in the extreme. I am an experienced TV editor - in reviewing your 'story' and realising you'd left out one of the main players, it might have been good practice to go back and re-cut it. If you'd discovered the Beatles missing from a 60s documentary I'm pretty sure you'd have gone back and reworked things. Pathetic.

  • Comment number 99.

    in response to realist_2. The fact that there has been such a feeling of injustice should make you realise that their may be some truth in what is being said with regards to The Stranglers. Do you work at the Beeb as your views would fit in wonderfully well in that institution!!! Making a programme about pub rock and its metamorphis into punk rock without mentioning the Stranglers with all their history on the circuit is, quite frankly, astonishingly unbelievable !!

  • Comment number 100.

    By the way - I reckon over half the comments on this blog refer to the stranglers - most, if not all in a positive way for the band - without any encouragement from the bands website. ("Fanclub?"- nob!89) Says it all!


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