Danny Boyle will direct a six-part TV drama about the Sex Pistols – titled Pistol – based on guitarist Steve Jones’ 2018 memoir Lonely Boy. In a statement, Boyle described the emergence of the Sex Pistols in the mid-1970s as the time when British society and culture changed forever.
“Imagine stepping into the world of The Crown and Downton Abbey with your buddies and screaming your songs and your fury at all they stand for,” Boyle said. “This is the detonation point of British street culture where ordinary young people took the stage and expressed their fury and fashion, and everyone had to watch and listen and everyone feared or followed them.
Frank Cottrell Boyce writes the series alongside Craig Pearce (Strictly Ballroom). His young actors include Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams as punk icon Jordan and Toby Wallace, recently seen in Australian film Babyteeth, as Steve Jones. John Lydon is to be played by emerging star Anson Boon.
Pistol will appear on the US network FX, which has a scripted comedy partnership with the BBC. Production is scheduled to start on March 7.
In an observer review of Jones’ memoir, Jude Rogers described the guitarist’s story as “often very funny” but with “many poignant moments” as it tackles sexual abuse, maternal neglect and a passage in a pre-trial detention center.
Lydon has yet to comment on the news. In 2019, he disowned a potential Sex Pistols biopic directed by Starlight Films. “For the avoidance of doubt, this film would be unauthorized, unofficial and not approved by the Sex Pistols”, he tweeted.
Director Penelope Spheeris was, at one point, in talks with Lydon over a biopic, but said in 2015 that it was unlikely to happen. “I just don’t know if he has the mindset to do it,” she told Pitchfork. “I love him, and I think he changed the world, especially the music world, but he was suffering from the same thing as me – you reach a certain age and you say, ‘What is my identity? What is Johnny Rotten’s identity? The birth of punk, the Sex Pistols. You want to do it right, and I think John is afraid of doing it right.
Boyle’s last TV series was Trust (2018), about the kidnapping of Getty Oil heir John Paul Getty III.