- Directors: Michael Winterbottom
- Producers: Andrew Eaton
- Writers: Frank Cottrell Boyce
- Genres: Biography, Comedy, Drama, Music
- Actors: Steve Coogan, Paddy Considine, Danny Cunningham, Shirley Henderson, Lennie James, Sean Harris, Peter Kay
The story opens in the late 1970s in the Pennines, where Tony Wilson, reporting for Granada Television embarks on a hang gliding adventure, despite not having any training. After crashing several times and receiving a “rather unfortunate” injury to his coccyx, he walks away, then turns to the camera, breaking the fourth wall, saying the scene was symbolic of what is to come on many levels. “I don’t want to say too much, don’t want to spoil it. I’ll just say one word: ‘Icarus’. If you get it, great. If you don’t, that’s fine too. But you should probably read more.”
Wilson is dissatisfied with his job as a television news reporter, finding stories like the hang-gliding stunt unfulfilling, telling his producer, Charles, “I’m a serious fucking journalist … I went to Cambridge.”
Wilson then attends a concert in June 1976 at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall by the Sex Pistols (the Buzzcocks were also to perform but weren’t ready). Despite only being attended by 42 people, Wilson cites the concert as a great historical event that would inspire attendees to “go out and perform wondrous deeds”.
For his part, Wilson, the host of a music show, So It Goes, decides to move beyond just putting bands on television and get into promoting concerts. With some friends, actor Alan Erasmus and Rob Gretton, Wilson starts a weekly series of punk rock shows at a Manchester club. It is during the opening night, and a performance by a band Gretton manages called Joy Division, that Wilson is caught by his wife, Lindsay, getting fellatio from a woman in the back of the club owner Don Tonay’s “nosh van”. She then retaliates by having sexual intercourse in a toilet cubicle with the Buzzcocks’ Howard Devoto, and is caught by Tony. The real Devoto, portraying a janitor cleaning the bathroom sink, then turns to the camera and says “I definitely don’t remember this happening.”
Meanwhile, various aspects of Wilson’s life are glossed over, and Wilson takes a moment to acknowledge this, quickly skimming over his divorce from his first wife, Lindsay, his second marriage and children, and his relationship with beauty queen Yvette Livesey. His own drug problems and professional difficulties are also glossed over. “I’m a minor character in my own story,” Wilson explains, saying that the stories about the music, as well as Manchester itself, are more important.