Sex Pistols star John Lydon has claimed that BBC bosses ‘blacklisted’ him and the band from appearing on BBC shows after he exposed Jimmy Savile as being a Paedophile back in 1978.
Lydon gave an interview to Radio 1 in which he claimed Savile was a “hypocrite … into all kinds of seediness … that we’re not allowed to talk about“.
The BBC subsequently shelved the Jimmy Savile claims by the Sex Pistol star, which later turned out to be true after hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse against the DJ came to light after Savile’s death in 2011.
‘If you said anything you’d be off playlists, but that didn’t bother me as I was doing a good job of that independently,’ says Lydon. ‘But first-hand experiences were reiterated to me by young girls who went to Top Of The Pops and said he was touchy, feely, creepy, urgh… Doctor Death. I told them to report it but it would have been seen as grassing then. I knew all about it and said so and got myself banned from the BBC. Family values, eh?’ he laughs. ‘Turns out I was the only one who had any.’
Indeed, for someone who incited moral outrage in the 70s, Lydon, now 60, appears a model of small-c conservatism. He’s been married to Nora Forster, 74, a German publishing heiress, for almost 40 years and claims never to have been unfaithful. ‘What on earth for?’ he says, aghast. ‘Self-gratification? I’m a giver, not a taker. We sowed our wild oats before we came together. I thought she was the most beautiful individual I’d ever seen, and I still do.’
The pair never had children. ‘We very much wanted to,’ says Lydon. ‘But we had an accident decades ago that put an end to it. So I feel sadness about it. But there’s always been children around. The neighbourhood kids wander in and out because they know there’s someone to play Lego with.’ Nora already had a daughter, Ariane (aka Ari Up of British punk band The Slits), and before Ari’s death from cancer six years ago, Lydon helped raise her twins, Pablo and Pedro. ‘It was hell!’ he laughs. ‘They were in their teens so it was a battle, but worth it. They’re like all grandkids, though – the only time we see them is if they want money!’
It’s comforting to know Lydon can still shock. Two years ago he was planning to play King Herod in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar before it was cancelled (‘Me, in a musical!’) and he even professes a liking for Cliff Richard. ‘I liked Devil Woman,’ he says, ‘and it was heartwarming when he sent out feelers to me a few years ago – if the chance arose I’d have worked with him. I hope the police investigation into his alleged involvement into historic sex abuse is over and they decide there’s no case. With witch-hunts they tend to grab everybody, but innocent until proven otherwise.’
His band’s tour kicked off a month after the Queen’s 90th birthday. As the chap who sang about anarchy in the UK, what present would he give Her Majesty? ‘Ten more years,’ he says. ‘Maybe 20. She’s fantastic. She was born into an institution not of her making, and while I won’t support the institution, I support her fully.’
Does he realise that he himself is in danger of becoming a national treasure, or worse still, seriously huggable? ‘Oh, I wouldn’t recommend that,’ he laughs. ‘I’m actually just a big bag of nails.’