‘Gavin & Stacey’ Christmas special repeat to censor controversial ‘Fairytale Of New York’ lyric

The BBC received a large number of complaints last year about the 1987 hit's inclusion in the festive special

This year’s rerun of the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special will not feature the controversial ‘Fairytale Of New York’ lyric that caused a number of viewers to make complaints to the BBC.

The uncensored version of the 1987 hit by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl, featuring the lyrics: “You scumbag, you maggot/ You cheap lousy f****t/ Happy Christmas, your arse/ I pray God it’s our last, was performed by Nessa and Bryn during last year’s special.

After the episode aired, the BBC received nearly 900 complaints about the lyric. The corporation argued that the song is “widely played and enjoyed in its original form” and explained that in the context of the song the word deemed offensive was archaic Irish slang for a lazy person.


Now it’s been revealed that production company Fulwell 73 has decided to cut the line from the show’s repeat, which airs tonight (December 24).

“Fulwell 73 thought long and hard about this and they hope the change will ensure the special can be enjoyed by all audiences, present and future, without causing any unintended offence,” a source told The Sun.

A spokesman for Fulwell 73 added: “In keeping with the programme’s themes of joy, love and inclusivity, Fulwell 73 have decided to re-edit the song. We are grateful to the BBC for allowing us to make this change.”

A BBC spokesperson said the corporation “respects [Fulwell 73’s] decision to make the edit”.

“Attitudes can change over time and we appreciate that language is a sensitive and important topic for some people,” the spokesperson told The Metro.


In 2007, BBC Radio 1 made the decision to censor the word f****t from the song but later reversed their ruling. Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt said: “After careful consideration, I have decided that the decision to edit the Pogues song was wrong.”

Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan commented on the controversy in December, 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,” he said. “She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate.”

He doubled down on his remarks this year, saying: “There is no political correctness to it. I’ve been told it’s insulting to gays; I don’t understand how that works.”

Meanwhile, Gavin & Stacey star Larry Lamb has said it’s “highly unlikely there won’t be more” Christmas specials in future.

  • Related Topics
  • BBC