Have your say: Should Fairytale of New York be censored?

Ellen Manning
·3 min read
London, UK - 5th April 2014: The outside of a BBC building in central London. The British Broadcasting Corporation also know as the BBC is a public service broadcasting in England
The BBC said different versions of a Fairytale of New York will be played on different stations. (Getty)

BBC Radio 1 will play an edited version of the Christmas hit Fairytale Of New York to avoid offending listeners.

Radio 1 will play an alternative version of the popular song by The Pogues, which has sparked debate in recent years thanks to its gritty lyrics, seen by many as offensive.

The song includes the words “faggot” and “slut”.

The BBC has announced that Radio 1 will play an alternative version of the 1987 track, with the record label providing different lyrics sung by MacColl, after bosses were reportedly wary of offending younger listeners with derogatory terms for gender and sexuality.

Radio 2 will play the original song, but said it will continue to monitor listeners’ views, while 6 Music said it has made an edited version available and will allow presenters to make the choice.

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In a statement the BBC said: “We know the song is considered a Christmas classic and we will continue to play it this year, with our radio stations choosing the version of the song most relevant for their audience.”

Last year, the BBC defended using the unedited version of the song in the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special after the characters of Nessa Jenkins and Uncle Bryn sang it on the show.

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Gavin & Stacey co-creator Ruth Jones, who plays Nessa, also defended using the song.

She told The Sun: “It is a different climate. But we have to remain true to the characters, to who they were. Characters in Gavin & Stacey are kind and big-hearted, I believe.

“So I think no one is going to be intentionally hurtful. But by the same token, they’re not necessarily going to be completely politically correct or be aware of political correctness.”

The use of an edited version on Radio 1 came under fire from actor Laurence Fox, who criticised the decision on Twitter, prompting The Pogues to tell him to “f*** off”.

Responding to the BBC’s decision, Jeff Ingold, head of media at LGBT charity Stonewall, said: “While for some people it may only be a lyric in a song, for many LGBT people the ‘f’ word has been used in a threatening and abusive way against them and may well be associated with incidents of bullying or anti-LGBT attacks.

“It’s good Radio 1 has heard the concerns of their listeners and understands the impact language can have on different people.

“While we’re pleased about this decision, tackling offensive language is one part of much wider action needed to address the challenges lesbian, gay, bi and trans people face feeling safe to be themselves in all areas of their life.”

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