Fairytale of New York: BBC Radio 1 will not play original version

Fairytale of New York: BBC Radio 1 will not play original version

BBC Radio 1 will not play the original version of Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl this Christmas, because its audience may be offended by some of the lyrics.

The station said young listeners were particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality.

It will instead play an edited version with different lyrics sung by MacColl.

But the 1987 original will still be played on Radio 2, while 6 Music DJs can choose between the two versions.

A BBC spokesman 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 duet is one of the most enduring Christmas pop songs, having returned to the UK top 20 every year since 2005. Along with a string of other festive favourites, it is now rising the chart again, at 59 in the current midweek chart.

Radio 1 has played the song in its original form in recent years, but the insults contained in the lyrics, sung in the form of a blazing row between an alcoholic and a heroin addict, have long been criticised by some.

The station has decided younger listeners who are unfamiliar with the track would find some of the words stark and not in line with what they would expect to hear on air.

The new edited version alters two lines – one swapped for an alternative version in which MacColl sings “You’re cheap and you’re haggard” in place of a homophobic slur.

The other one, sung by Shane MacGowan in the second verse, has had a word removed entirely in the new edit.

The track was censored by Radio 1 back in 2007, but that decision was swiftly reversed after an outcry by its fans.

Andy Parfitt, the station’s controller at the time, explained the U-turn by saying its audiences were “smart enough to distinguish between maliciousness and creative freedom”, and there was no “negative intent behind the use of the words”.

This year, Radio 2 said it had considered the issue carefully and would continue to monitor listeners’ views, but had decided to continue to play the original.

6 Music, meanwhile, has said both versions can be played, at the discretion of each individual presenter.

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