Fairytale of New York: Anger as censored version of Christmas hit to be played on Radio 1

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BBC Radio 1 has announced it will not play the original version of The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale of New York. The Christmas hit features the lyrics: “You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy f****t / Happy Christmas, your a*** / I pray God it’s our last.” The station said that young listeners could be “particularly sensitive” to the derogatory terms for gender and sexuality used in the song, which also includes the line: “You’re a bum/ You’re a punk/ You’re an old s*** on junk.”

Instead, a censored version of Fairytale of New York will play different lyrics from the 1987 Christmas track, sung by MacColl.

Some fans have expressed their dismay at the news, with one tweeting: “Fairytale of New York being banned by radio 1 – snowflakes everywhere!!!!”

Another said: “Fairytale of New York is a British masterpiece: Does the BBC not realise that such decisions will lead to its demise as the public turn against them?”

While another wrote: “Fairytale of New York is a great song. All the Christmas songs are good. It’s pretty difficult to write a bad Christmas song. Even the s*** ones are charming.”

Despite the move on BBC Radio 1, the original version will still be played on Radio 2, while Radio 6 Music DJs can choose which one they’d like to play.

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 new version of the song sees MacColl now say: “You’re cheap and you’re haggard”.

This edited version of Fairytale of New York was previously sung by MacColl on Top of the Pops in 1992.

https://www.youtube.com/embed/j9jbdgZidu8

The same new lyrics were used by Ronan Keating and Moya Brennan in the 2000 cover version.

While in 2017, Ed Sheeran performed The Pogues hit with Anne-Marie for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge and she chose “cheap lousy blagger”.

Although last year’s Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special saw Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon’s characters Nessa and Bryn sing the uncensored original.

BBC Radio 1 previously censored Fairytale of New York in 2007, however, this decision was turned around following criticism from fans, the band and the mother of the late Kirsty MacColl.

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Andy Parfitt, BBC Radio 1’s station controller of the time, said that after “careful consideration” the ban of the original version would be reversed.

He said: “Radio 1 does not play homophobic lyrics or condone bullying of any kind.

“It is not always easy to get this right, mindful of our responsibility to our young audience. The unedited version will be played from now on.”

“While we would never condone prejudice of any kind, we know our audiences are smart enough to distinguish between maliciousness and creative freedom.”

Parfitt added: “In the context of this song, I do not feel that there is any negative intent behind the use of the words, hence the reversal of the decision.”

Fairytale of New York was written by Jem Finer and Shane MacGowan and reached No 2 in the UK singles chart in 1987.

The Christmas track was just kept off No 1 by Pet Show Boys’ cover of Always on My Mind

Despite its controversial lyrics, the song is one of the best-loved festive songs in the UK, often topping polls of the best Christmas tracks.

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