BBC Four’s Punk Britannia reveals the spirit behind the snarl

A new TV series explores punk’s history and the rich legacy it left in British music.

The history of punk rock, like the history of wars, has been written by its victors. One might be forgiven for thinking the whole thing was about two bands: the Sex Pistols, whose feral energy exploded in 1976 and burnt out in two years; and the Clash, who endured a little longer, before imploding on the cusp of massive worldwide success.

Punk Britannia, the latest three-part series from BBC Four’s excellent music documentary strand, seeks to tell a broader, more complex and detailed story. With God Save the Queen being re-released to commemorate the Sex Pistols’ Silver Jubilee protest, punk has been reduced to a few cartoonish gestures of aggression and anti-authoritarianism. “We wanted to show how disparate and kaleidoscopic the whole era was,” explains the series’ producer, Ben Whalley. “Punk was this amazingly transformative cultural force, which is still being felt. It wasn’t necessarily all nihilistic and against everything. There was so much positive energy about it, too, and it created so much wonderful music.”

Read the full article at The Telegraph here, by Andrew Perry.

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