BBC defends decision to play censored ‘Fairytale Of New York’ on Radio 1

An alternative version will air on the station over the festive period

The BBC has defended its decision to play a censored version of The Pogues‘ ‘Fairytale Of New York’ over the festive period.

The corporation announced last week that it will air an alternative version of the beloved Christmas classic on Radio 1 to avoid offending younger listeners with the derogatory terms that feature on the track.

But ten days after their initial decision, the BBC has been forced to explain their reasoning behind the decision once more.


In a statement delivered to Metro, the BBC said: “We know ‘Fairytale of New York’ is considered a Christmas classic and we will continue to play it this year on BBC Radio, with our stations choosing the version of the song most relevant for their audience.

The Pogues' Shane MacGowan
The Pogues’ Shane MacGowan

“We are aware that young audiences are particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality, and after considering this carefully, Radio 1 has decided to play a version featuring Kirsty MacColl singing alternative lyrics, provided by the record label.”

The controversy surrounding the song focuses on a line sung by the late Kirsty MacColl, with her and Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan adopting the roles of a warring married couple.

She sings to MacGowan: “You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy f****t / Happy Christmas, your arse / I pray God it’s our last.

Radio 1’s edited version will feature the line “you’re cheap and you’re haggard”, with the word “slut” silenced at an earlier point in the verse.


The Pogues also recently hit out at Laurence Fox’s criticism of the BBC’s decision, branding the right-wing provocateur a “herronvolk shite”.

‘Fairytale of New York’ previously sparked controversy last year after it was banned by BBC Solent presenter Alex Dyke, who suggested on Twitter that the song was “downmarket chav bilge”.

The festive return of Gavin & Stacey also faced a backlash last Christmas after the characters of Bryn and Nessa performed an uncensored version of the song.

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