Bill Grundy

William "Bill" Grundy (February 20, 1923 - February 9, 1993) was a British television presenter and the host of Thames Television's Today show in the 1970s. He became nationally notorious because of a disastrous interview with the Sex Pistols on his show in 1976.


Born in Manchester, Grundy began his career as a journalist there and was the first television presenter to present The Beatles on Granada Television on October 17 1962. He appeared on several TV shows, including People and Places and Man About the House, but his greatest claim to fame was as host of the Today show.

Grundy became infamous in a matter of two minutes due to an incident that occurred when the punk band Sex Pistols and their entourage appeared at short notice on the Today show of December 1 1976. They were a last minute stand-in for Queen, who were forced to cancel. The Today show was broadcast during daytime hours, at a time when bad language was forbidden, but Grundy provoked the band into using obscenities.

The incident is featured in the Television Personalities' 1978 song "Where's Bill Grundy Now?", from their Part Time Punks EP.

The broadcast wrecked Grundy's television career. By 1979 he was presenting a book-review programme, A Good Read, broadcast not at prime time like Today, but early on Sunday mornings. His presenting slot on What the Papers Say in the early 1980s was his last on national British television, although he continued to present on BBC North West on such shows as Sweet and Sour and The Lancashire Lads into the mid-80s. He also appeared as an interviewer in ITV's adaptation of A Kind of Loving in 1982. Grundy died of a heart attack on 9 February 1993 at the age of 69. After his death, the job of writing his obituary went to his friend and colleague Brian Inglis. Two days later Inglis himself died.

His son Tim Grundy is a popular radio presenter in the Manchester area. His other son Nick Grundy lives and teaches English in France.

The Today show incident

The interview began when Grundy proceeded to introduce and provoke the band, with tongue firmly in cheek. He joked that he was under the influence as he introduced them - "...they are as drunk as I am!". Initially he received mocking but polite responses from Glen Matlock. However Steve Jones when asked by Grundy what the band had done with the £40,000 given to them by their record company said: "Fuckin' spent it" which was apparently not noticed by Grundy at the time. This was followed by two more uses of the word 'fuck' by Jones (only the fourth and fifth occurrences of this on British Television at the time). Following this, Johnny Rotten muttered the word "shit" under his breath, but when asked, said that it was nothing but a rude word. Grundy insisted that Rotten repeat what he had said, and then responded mockingly when Rotten complied.

Next, Grundy jokingly tried to pick up Siouxsie Sioux, who appeared as part of the band's entourage, by saying "let's meet afterwards shall we?" The show went downhill from there. Steve Jones responded by calling Grundy a "dirty sod", a "dirty old man" and "you dirty bastard". Grundy further goaded Jones to "say something outrageous", a challenge Jones was ready to meet. He called Grundy a "dirty fucker" (to which Grundy mockingly responded "what a clever boy") and finally proclaimed "what a fucking rotter". As the show ended, Grundy could be seen muttering "oh shit" as the credits rolled and as the band began dancing to the closing theme.

Although Today was only shown in the London ITV region, it became a national story due to coverage and comment by the tabloid press. As a result, Grundy was suspended for two weeks and Today was axed two months later.

Interview transcript

Bill Grundy: They are "punk rockers". The new craze, they tell me. They are heroes, not the nice clean Rolling Stones, you see they're as drunk as I am, they're clean by comparison. They're a group called The Sex Pistols, and I am surrounded now by all of them. Just let us see the Sex Pistols in action...

Video footage plays showing the Pistols performing "No Fun" at a very small venue

Grundy: I am told that that group have received £40,000 from a record company, doesn't that seem, err, to be slightly opposed to their anti-materialistic view of life?

Glen Matlock: Nah. The more the merrier.

Grundy: Really?

Matlock: Oh yeah.

Grundy: Well tell me more about...

Steve Jones: We've fuckin' spent it ain't we!

Grundy: I don't know, have you?

Matlock: Yup, it's all gone.

Grundy: Really?

Matlock: Down the boozer.

Grundy: 40? Really, good lord! Now, I want to know one thing; are you serious or are you just making me, trying to make me laugh?

Matlock: No. It's gone. Gone.

Grundy: Really?

Matlock: Yeah.

Grundy: No, but I mean about what you're doing?

Matlock: Oh yeah.

Grundy: You are serious? Beethoven, Mozart, Bach, Brahms, have all died...

Johnny Rotten: They're really heroes of ours ain't they?

Grundy: Really? What were you saying Sir?

Rotten: They're woooonderful people.

Grundy: Are they?

Rotten: Oh yeeees they really turn us on!

Paul Cook: Well, they do.

Grundy: Well suppose they turn other people on?

Rotten: That's just their tough shit!

Grundy: It's what?

Rotten: Nothing, a rude word. Next question!

Grundy: No, no. What was the rude word?

Rotten: Shit.

Grundy: Was it really? Good heavens! You frighten me to death.

Rotten: Oh alright Siegfreid...

Grundy: What about you girls behind? Are you worried or are you just enjoying yourself?

Jones (in the background) He's like your dad innee this geezer? Or your granddad...

Siouxsie Sioux: Enjoying myself...

Grundy: Are you?

Sioux: Yeah.

Grundy: That's what I thought you were doing.

Sioux: I always wanted to meet you...

Grundy: Did you really? We'll meet afterwards, shall we?

Jones: You dirty sod. You dirty old man.

Grundy: Keep going chief, keep going. Go on, you've got another 5 seconds, say something outrageous.

Jones: You dirty bastard.

Grundy: Go on, again!

Jones: You dirty fucker.

Grundy: What a clever boy.

Jones: What a fucking rotter.

Grundy: Well that's it for tonight. The other 'rocker' Able and I'm saying nothing else about him will be back tomorrow. I'll be seeing you soon, I hope I'll not see you again. From me though, goodnight! (can be seen muttering "oh shit" as credits begin to roll)

The credits roll and the Sex Pistols start dancing to the theme music...

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