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Never mind the rowlocks! Sex Pistols’ punch-up on a Thames cruiser is recreated for a TV drama

Never mind the rowlocks! Sex Pistols’ punch-up on a Thames cruiser during the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977 is recreated for a TV drama on the band

  • Sex Pistols sailed down the Thames to promote the release of their new single
  • Performed the song, ‘God Save the Queen’, while sailing down the Thames
  • Stunt was halted by police who made them dock near the Palace of Westminster
  • Pictures show the actors recreating the band’s jubilee boat trip in June 1977

When the Sex Pistols sailed down the Thames more than four decades ago, they soon found themselves in stormy waters.

Now their infamous jubilee boat trip in June 1977 has been recreated for Pistol, a six-part TV drama about the notorious punk group.

Our exclusive photos show rising acting stars Anson Boon and Louis Partridge as singer Johnny Rotten and bass player Sid Vicious respectively. 

Alongside them is Thomas Brodie-Sangster – who appeared in The Queen‘s Gambit and Love Actually – as the late Malcolm McLaren and St Trinian’s actress Talulah Riley as fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

When the Sex Pistols sailed down the Thames more than four decades ago, they soon found themselves in stormy waters. Now their infamous jubilee boat trip in June 1977 has been recreated for Pistol, a six-part TV drama about the notorious punk group

The cruise – a publicity stunt to mark the release of the band’s second single ‘God Save The Queen’ – was timed to coincide with Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee celebrations, but police forced the boat to dock near the Palace of Westminster where several members of the Pistols’ entourage were arrested amid scenes of violence.

Despite being banned by the BBC and several major record retailers, the song reached No2 in the charts. 

It was kept off the top spot by Rod Stewart’s hit ‘I Don’t Want To Talk About It’, although rumours persist that music industry chiefs doctored sales figures to avoid further controversy.

Our exclusive photos show rising acting stars Anson Boon and Louis Partridge as singer Johnny Rotten and bass player Sid Vicious respectively

Our exclusive photos show rising acting stars Anson Boon and Louis Partridge as singer Johnny Rotten and bass player Sid Vicious respectively

Virgin Records founder Sir Richard Branson, who signed the group after they had been dropped by two other labels because of their outrageous behaviour, later observed: ‘We expected to have a fun ride down the river, create a few headlines and enjoy the music – but things escalated fast.’

The forthcoming drama, directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle, is based on the autobiography of the band’s guitarist Steve Jones, now a popular radio presenter in Los Angeles. 

As well as Ms Riley – the ex-wife of entrepreneur Elon Musk who is seen here for the first time playing band manager McLaren’s then lover Ms Westwood – it stars actress Emma Appleton as Vicious’s tragic girlfriend Nancy Spungen.

A former prostitute, Spungen was aged just 20 when she was stabbed to death at the Chelsea Hotel in New York in October 1978. 

Vicious, 21 – real name John Ritchie – was arrested and charged with second-degree murder, but died of a heroin overdose four months later. 

Rotten meanwhile went on to appear as a contestant on I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! under his real name of John Lydon.

Recalling the controversial boat trip, Branson once joked: ‘Years later when I got knighted, I did wonder whether the royal sword would be used to chop my head off rather than tap me on the shoulder. 

‘Thankfully the Queen has been good enough to have forgiven me.’

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