A TV show about 70s punk London is coming

Based on the wild career of the Sex Pistols, directed by Danny Boyle, and starring Maisie Williams.

by Douglas Greenwood
11 January 2021, 5:59pm

We have all concluded that 2021 is the year we all go fucking nuts, if not for the impending doom of an umpteenth lockdown, then at least to quell the pain of being stuck inside for 365 days as soon as that sweet Pfizer hits our veins. We’re all craving anarchy, and it seems the big bosses at TV studios have realised that too. Cue the arrival of a new show, Pistol, about the riot that was 1970s London and the punk band, the Sex Pistols, who came to define it with their anti-establishment sound. 

Commissioned by FX and headed up by Oscar-winner Danny Boyle, Pistol is set to be a six-part TV series that chronicles the Sex Pistols’ rise to fame, particularly through the lens of guitarist Steve Jones, whose autobiography, Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol, inspired the show’s script. A press release from FX (the same folks who put Pose on the air) says that the programme will take us “from West London’s council estates to Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s notorious Kings Road SEX shop, to the international controversy that came with the release of Never Mind the Bollocks, which is frequently listed as one of the most influential albums of all time”.

Danny Boyle added: “This is the moment that British society and culture changed forever. It is the detonation point for British street culture…where ordinary young people had the stage and vented their fury and their fashion…and everyone had to watch & listen…and everyone feared them or followed them: the Sex Pistols.” 

What’s more, the show’s incendiary plotline is paired with one of the most exciting young ensembles we’ve seen gathered in some time. The show’s main actor, playing Steve Jones, is Toby Wallace, who you may have seen as the rough-edged and sensitive male protagonist in last year’s brilliant Babyteeth. Meanwhile, Louis Partridge, fresh off the back of Netflix’s Enola Holmes, will play Sid Vicious, and the excellent star of the underseen Blackbird and 1917, Anson Boon, has won the role of John Lydon. Rounding out the band is The Serpent star Fabien Frankel, who’ll play Glen Matlock, Dylan Llewellyn (aka that lad off Derry Girls) as Wally Nightingale, and newcomer Jacob Slater -- who we have a sneaking suspicion may (or may not) be a musician first and foremost -- as Paul Cook. 

That’s not all though! Maisie Williams, fresh off the back of The New Mutants and Game of Thrones, will be playing Jordan, the peroxide-haired, face-painted girl widely hailed as ‘the frontwoman of punk’. (Today, she breeds Burmese cats and is a veterinary nurse.) Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders will be played by Sydney Chandler, whose just wrapped work on the Harry Styles-starring Don’t Worry Darling, while Emma Appleton of The Witcher will tackle the character of Sid Vicious’ American girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

All in all, it sounds like the kind of thing we’d dig: lots of young people pissing off old Tories. So when will Pistol hit screens? No dates yet, but the shoot kicks off in early March, so expect it by early 2022 or, if we’re lucky, before the year is out.