Earlier this year I was asked to participate in a documentary for BBC TV, part of a series of hour-long films examining different decades of British social history. Set against the background of popular music from that decade, each is based around a music artist of that time and so tells personal stories from different backgrounds.

BBC Music’s My Generation season continues this week by examining the 70s as experienced by the charismatic singer Boy George in his teenage years. Save Me From Suburbia examines influences creatively during his teenage years that formed a desire to project his personal style into what initially was a startled suburbia. Our paths would cross in the second half of the decade and a lot of his story has been well documented in his two autobiographies, Take It Like A Man and Straight.

A group of  creative people who also emerged from that London scene are also interviewed, including nightclub host and promoter Philip Sallon, androgynous singer Marilyn, It Girl Princess Julia and clothes designer Martin Degville. All our lives would intertwine  through our adventures in London’s emerging punk scene and the nightclubbing that followed.

London, Billy's , Andy Polaris, nightclubs
Billy’s nightclub about 1978: me sporting soul-boy chic. Photo by Nicola Tyson

More photos by Nicola Tyson of the Bowie Nights at Billy’s in Soho

Pivotal moments in my 1970s

1976 First major concert by David Bowie: Station To Station at Wembley Arena


1977 Punk explosion seeing literally as many bands as possible from Wire, The Clash, The Damned, Buzzcocks to X Ray Spex, The Slits, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Appearing briefly in the Wolfgang Büld 1977 documentary Punk In London (below).

1978 Billy’s Bowie Night opens in London and I appear in a centre-page feature (below) about club and style in the UK national newspaper the Daily Mail.


It’s currently Black History Month in the UK and one thing that hasn’t really changed since the seventies is finding our lives reflected on screen in a meaningful way. There is a need to see the black experiences and cultural creative input being recognized when that story or period of history is being told. I was glad to have the opportunity to provide my perspective because race, gender and sexuality tend to have completely different journeys to navigate through teenage life and beyond.

I will eventually expand this into a more detailed look at life for a mixed-race, sexually confused teenager living in suburbia and alienated in the seventies. Not here, now but hopefully in the near future.

The Save Me From Suburbia film is available to UK viewers on BBC iPlayer for 28 days from transmission on Saturday 8 Oct.

Press/ Reviews

From Boy George to Bowie – rock ’n’ roll was born in the suburbs – Stuart Maconie’s review

BBC Music’s My Generation year-long season is telling the story of popular music, and launched with the 1950s back in April – Radio Times feature.

More from Nicola Tyson and her clubbing photography at The Guardian