‘Gavin & Stacey’: Ruth Jones defends use of homophobic slur in Christmas special

The slur occurred when characters performed a version of 'Fairytale of New York' by The Pogues

Ruth Jones has responded to the backlash Gavin & Stacey received after a homophobic slur was included in this year’s Christmas special.

The slur occurred when Nessa (played by Jones) and Bryn performed a version of the 1987 hit ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.

The song features the controversial lyrics: “You scumbag, you maggot/ You cheap lousy f****t/ Happy Christmas, your arse/ I pray God it’s our last.


In recent years, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the lyrical content, specifically the use of the homophobic slur, with some arguing that the song should be banned or – at the very least – the lyric removed.

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.”


After this year’s Gavin & Stacey Christmas special caused people to complain to TV watchdog Ofcom about the slur, and many more complained online, Jones stepped in to respond to the backlash explaining that they included it to “remain true to the characters.”

“It is a different climate. But we have to remain true to the characters, to who they were,” she told The Sun.

“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.”

Meanwhile, the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special almost featured a very un-festive storyline, according to show co-creator Ruth Jones.

“We toyed with the idea of Gavin having an affair or Gavin and Stacey divorcing,” Jones, who plays Nessa in the show, admitted on The Graham Norton Show. “But we really wanted to hold on to the heart of the original show, and I hope we’ve done it.”

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