Main content
Sorry, this episode is not currently available

Punk 1976-1978

Episode 2 of 3

Series about the history of punk. England was rudely awoken when the Sex Pistols swore on primetime television and aligned itself against the establishment.

Daydreaming England was about to be rudely awoken as punk emerged from the London underground scene. A nation dropped its dinner in its lap when the Sex Pistols swore on primetime television. Punk had finally found its enemy- the establishment. In Manchester, the Buzzcocks' self-released Spiral Scratch was a clarion call for a do-it-yourself generation, while the Clash's White Riot tour took punk's message across Britain. Moral outrage followed the Pistols around the country, effectively outlawing punk - but there was one refuge for the music. Nestled in the wasteland of 70s Covent Garden, the Roxy was punk's cathedral. Punk interlopers the Jam raised the bar for lyricism, challenging punk's London elite.

Punk also began to extend its three-chord vocabulary through an alliance with reggae, memorably captured by the Clash on White Man in Hammersmith Palais. With their second single, God Save the Queen, the Pistols scored a direct hit at the establishment in summer '77, but a disastrous PR stunt on a Thames barge would mark a turning point. The darker underbelly of the summer of '77 would see race riots in Lewisham. This street turbulence was the backdrop for a rawer, working class sound. If the Pistols and the Clash had been the theory, a second wave led by Sham 69 was the reality.

By '78 punk was becoming a costume - the very pop orthodoxy it had originally sought to destroy. For many punk ended when the Pistols split, beset by internal problems, following an abortive tour of the USA in January '78. Those practitioners who would go on to enjoy sustained success sought to modify their sound to survive, such as Siouxsie Sioux. Punk had shown what it was against, now it was time to show what it was for in the post-punk era.

With John Lydon, Mick Jones, Siouxsie Sioux and Paul Weller.

59 minutes

Last on

Sat 2 Jul 2016 01:30


Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Sex Pistols

    Pretty Vacant

  • Sex Pistols

    Holidays in The Sun

  • The Damned

    Neat Neat Neat

  • Sex Pistols

    Anarchy in the UK

  • The Vibrators

    Into the Future

  • Siouxsie and the Banshees

    Make Up to Break Up

  • Buzzcocks


  • Clash


  • X‐Ray Spex


  • The Adverts

    Bored Teenagers

  • Subway Sect


  • The Jam

    In The City

  • Sex Pistols


  • Clash

    Complete Control

  • The Clash

    White Riot

  • Augustus Pablo

    Keep on Dubbing

  • Clash

    White Man in Hammersmith Palais

  • Sex Pistols

    God Save The Queen

  • Sex Pistols


  • The Jam

    A Bomb in Wardour Street

  • Sham 69

    Borstal Breakout

  • Sham 69

    If the Kids are United

  • Stiff Little Fingers

    Alternative Ulster

  • Television Personalities

    Part Time Punks

  • The Ruts

    Babylon's Burning

  • Clash

    London Calling

  • The Jam

    Down in the Tube Station at Midnight0

  • The Jam

    That's Entertainment

  • Adam and the Ants


  • Adam and the Ants


  • Siouxsie and the Banshees

    Hong Kong Garden

  • Siouxsie and the Banshees

    Arabian Nights

  • Generation X

    Your Generation

  • Billy Idol

    In the Midnight Hour

  • Public Image Ltd

    Public Image


Role Contributor
Director Sam Bridger
Series Producer Ben Whalley
Narrator Peter Capaldi