BBC Radio 1 will play an edited version of Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl this year, in an effort to avoid offence for younger listeners.
Every year, the playing of the Christmas classic has attracted controversy due to slurs in its lyrics, with Kirsty MacColl singing: ‘You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy f****t.’
The Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan also sings: ‘You’re an old slut on junk.’
Radio 1 will play an alternative version of the track to avoid offending younger listeners with derogatory terms for gender and sexuality.
A version with different lyrics sung by MacColl has been provided to the station.
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.’
However, it was made clear that the song is not banned from the airwaves, and over on 6 Music, presenters will be given both the original track and an edited version, and the choice to play either.
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘The Fairytale of New York was made in a moment of time and times change.
‘As we’re a radio station for every music lover, we have made an edited version available as well as the original, so presenters have the choice.’
Meanwhile, the original unedited version will be played on BBC Radio 2, with a statement reading: ‘We have considered this issue very carefully and have decided to play the original song.
‘As always, we will continue to monitor our listeners’ views on the lyrics of this very popular Christmas song.’
The 1987 song has become one of the nation’s favourite Christmas songs and a radio staple around December, but in recent years, there have been calls to play edited versions due to outdated and offensive terms in the lyrics.
In 2019, BBC Radio Solent DJ Alex Dyke banned Fairytale Of New York from his show, calling it ‘nasty’ and ‘an offensive pile of downmarket chav bilge’ and saying that he was no longer comfortable playing it.
The same year, there was major controversy after the song was included in the Gavin And Stacey Christmas special, with character Uncle Bryn, played by Rob Brydon, singing the ‘f****t’ lyric on stage in the pub.
The BBC defended the use of the slur on the show, with a statement reading: ‘Fairytale of New York is a very popular, much-loved Christmas song played widely throughout the festive season, and the lyrics are well-established with the audience.’
While Shane MacGowan had previously said he didn’t mind if the track was bleeped nowadays, the singer said in December that he didn’t think the controversy around the song’s lyrics were ‘worth a second’s thought’.
Appearing on The Late Late Show, the 62-year-old said: ‘There is no political correctness to it.
‘I’ve been told it’s insulting to gays, I don’t understand how that works.’
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