BBC Radio 1 is to air a censored version of The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ over the festive period that removes the words “f****t” and “slut” from Kirsty MacColl’s verse.
BBC Radio 2 will continue to air the original version, but 6 Music will allow DJs to choose the version they wish to play.
The 1987 festive staple sees MacColl 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.”
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.”
The statement suggests that the decision is based on varying sensitivities of Radio 1’s youth-oriented audience and Radio 2’s older listenership.
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.
MacGowan said of the song in 2018: “The word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak and with her character. She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person. She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history, and she is down on her luck and desperate.
“Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it, but she is not intended to offend! She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable. Sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively.”
‘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.