Danny Boyle is to direct a six-part television drama about the Sex Pistols – to be titled Pistol – based on guitarist Steve Jones’s 2016 memoir, Lonely Boy. In a statement, Boyle described the Sex Pistols’ emergence in the mid-70s as the moment that British society and culture changed for ever.
“Imagine breaking into the world of The Crown and Downton Abbey with your mates and screaming your songs and your fury at all they represent,” said Boyle. “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 and listen and everyone feared them or followed them.”
Frank Cottrell Boyce is writing the series alongside Craig Pearce (Strictly Ballroom). Among its young cast will be 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 portrayed by emerging star Anson Boon.
Pistol will appear on American network FX, which has a partnership for scripted comedy with the BBC. Production is due to start on 7 March.
In an Observer review of Jones’ memoir, Jude Rogers described the guitarist’s story as “often eye-wateringly funny”, albeit with “many moments of poignancy” as he touches on sexual abuse, maternal neglect and a stint in a remand centre.
Lydon has yet to comment on the news. In 2019, he disavowed a prospective Sex Pistols biopic made by Starlight Films. “For the avoidance of doubt this film would be unauthorised, unofficial, and not endorsed by Sex Pistols,” he tweeted.
Director Penelope Spheeris was, at one time, in talks with Lydon about a biopic, but said in 2015 that it was unlikely to happen. “I just don’t know if he’s got the mindset to do it,” she told Pitchfork. “I love him, and I think he changed the world, especially the world of music, but he was suffering from the same thing I was – you get to a certain age and you go, ‘What is my identity?’ What’s Johnny Rotten’s identity? The birth of punk, the Sex Pistols. You want to get it right, and I think John is afraid to get it right.”
Boyle’s last television series was Trust (2018), about the abduction of Getty Oil heir John Paul Getty III.
• This article was amended on 11 January 2021 to correct the release date of Steve Jones’s memoir, Lonely Boy. It was first published in 2016, not 2018.