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Last Updated: Friday, 30 January, 2004, 16:24 GMT
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are John Lydon (main picture), with Luke Johnson, Germaine Greer, Mark Haddon and Nick Brown (clockwise from top left).

JOHN LYDON

As Johnny Rotten, the lead singer of the Sex Pistols, he was the sneering, spitting, enfant terrible of punk. As John Lydon, he can currently be seen appearing on prime time TV's I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here.

"John's a bastard," Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of the Pretenders, once said. "But he's not the kind of person who would, for instance, abuse animals."

If being pecked at by a group of hungry ostriches during a set task on the ITV reality programme I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, was a test of this attribute, then John Lydon seems to have passed.

Animal lover? John Lydon and Jordan on the I'm a Celebrity... set
There was barely a hint of irritation in one whose reputation was founded on anger.

Lydon wasn't born angry, but anger set in pretty quickly. Brought up on a poor London council estate he caught meningitis at seven years old and spent many months in hospital.

The illness left him with a permanent curvature of the spine. But the physical damage was paltry compared to the mental scars.

"No social workers came round to help, nothing," he complained. As he grew older, his resentment at authority increased. He was expelled from school for anti-social behaviour.

"I learned hate and resentment there," he said. "And I learned to despise tradition and this sham we call culture."

He managed to pass six O-levels and two A-levels at college. But the low expectations and boredom of the times embittered him further. "I was told I might make a bank-teller at best," he protested.

He plays four-and-a-half-hour sets, that's torture - does he hate his audience?
John Lydon on Bruce Springsteen
The story of how Lydon and mates Steve Jones, Paul Cook, John Ritchie (later to become Sid Vicious) and Glen Matlock formed the Sex Pistols under the management of Malcolm McLaren, has been well documented in books and films.

The group's shocking antics and electrifying, if simplistic, songs and stage performances blew the cobwebs from a complacent music scene.

Like it or not, The Pistols' album Never Mind the Bollocks... remains a landmark in the history of British pop.

Lydon left the Sex Pistols after an acrimonious split with McLaren whom, he claims, was paying him a pittance despite the band's success. It was only years later that he finally won a court battle for his full share of royalties.

Doting grandfather

Post Pistols, Lydon had limited success with the band, Public Image Ltd, and the short, if lucrative, Pistols' reunion tour, Filthy Lucre.

Sex Pistols outside Buskingham Palace
Lydon (left), as Johnny Rotten, signs a record deal in 1977
Since 1977 he has lived in the United States with his German wife Nora, with whom he has been together for 24 years. He says he was hounded out of England by continuous raids from the drugs squad.

Forty-eight on Saturday, he divides his time between one house in California and another in Florida, having made a small fortune from property speculation.

The couple have been unable to have children together but dote on their grandchildren from Nora's daughter, Arianna, who introduced her mother to John Lydon while she was singing with punk group The Slits.

John Lydon still manages to vent his spleen on topical issues on a live internet talk-show, Rotten Talk, but he spends more time reading novels and academic works.

His current appearance in the jungle may be a clever ploy to reinstate his profile in the UK, particularly as he has a new solo album in the pipeline. According to Malcolm McLaren, he's doing it because "he wants to be loved".

Though John Lydon's anger may have abated, naturally, through age, his general antics as camp leader show that he is still, to use his own words about him, "the wizard of awkward".


Luke Johnson
Luke Johnson

Luke Johnson was appointed chairman of Channel 4 this week. He was praised for his "outstanding commercial and strategic track record". That record has centred on the dining industry, from his ownership of Pizza Express to the celebrity-studded Le Caprice and Ivy Restaurants. He is the son of the right-wing commentator, Paul Johnson, who once, famously, described the former Channel 4 chief-executive Michael Grade as a "pornographer-in-chief".

Germaine Greer
Germaine Greer

Germaine Greer touched the rawest of Aussie nerves when she dismissed her homeland as a sports-obsessed suburban wasteland devoid of cerebral stimulation. Greer, who left Melbourne for England in 1964, said the pain of watching its "relentless dilapidation" was more than she could bear. Her attack caused so much outrage that even the prime minister, John Howard, weighed into the row. He said her comments were "pathetic".

Mark Haddon
Mark Haddon

The hottest favourite for years duly won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, although a show of hands by the judges was needed before Mark Haddon emerged the winner with The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. In a wry reference to the novel, told through the eyes of a teenage boy suffering from a form of autism, 41-year-old Haddon said his success was "a delusional psychotic fantasy come true".

Nick Brown
Nick Brown

The former Labour agriculture minister Nick Brown was labelled a traitor this week following the government's narrow victory in the university top-up fees debate. Having been one of the unofficial rebel ring-leaders, Mr Brown reverted to the government's side at the death, claiming he'd secured late concessions. The credit for "turning" Mr Brown has been claimed by supporters of Chancellor Gordon Brown, thus renewing "bitter divisions" between the Brown and Blair factions within New Labour.

BBC News Profiles Unit's Bob Chaundy


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