On December 1, 1976 The Sex Pistols outraged British television viewers with shocking language during an interview they were never supposed to do. Queen had been booked on Today With Bill Grundy but backed out at the last minute. So EMI sent their label mates instead.
The Sex Pistols were told to show up at 4 PM for the 6 PM taping. They spent the two hours in the Green Room, taking advantage of the free alcohol. Grundy was there too, drinking and leering at Siouxsie Sioux.
In his memoir Anger is an Energy, John Lydon remembers :
It was actually me that swore first. Grundy goes, "What was that?' "Er, a rude word!"I didn't really want to be the first arsehole out the door with it, but there you go--he goaded me into it, so there it is. "You asked for it. It's not my fault at this point onwards, your honour. I am innocent" If you really understand the way the conversation's going, it's deeply fascinating. It should be in a psychology course, because of all the different things going on in all of our minds at the same time. It amounts to this Harold Pinter kind of scene.
It was guitarist Steve Jones who came on with the most confidence, calling Grundy a "dirty sod", a "dirty old man", a "dirty bastard", a "dirty fucker", and finally, the curiously phrased "fucking rotter".
"It was hilarious, "Jones would say later. "It was one of the best feelings, the next day, when you saw the paper. You thought, Fucking hell, this is great! From that day on it was different. Before then , it was just music, the next day, it was the media."
Manager Malcolm McLaren was less pleased.
Captain Sensible of the Damned says "After the show, (he) really tore into them, He was convinced they'd blown it. He was appalled. "You fuckin' idiots, you've ruined everything. We're finished". He was apparently in tears. He thought it was all over. The vibe was bad for the rest of the day.
For a long while it certainly seemed like McLaren was right. In two days the Sex Pistols were scheduled to headline a UK "Anarchy tour" with The Clash, The Damned and The Heartbreakers ( who arrived at Heathrow that day with Nancy Spungen in tow). The opening night gig at Norwich University was cancelled, as were all but three of the nineteen dates.