December 02, 2020

Fairytale Of New York to be edited for Radio 1 broadcast to avoid offending younger listeners

November 19, 2020

An edited version of Christmas classic Fairytale Of New York will be played on BBC Radio 1 this year to avoid offending younger listeners.

The festive hit by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl is a seasonal staple, but in recent years has been at the centre of debate over its lyrics.

Derogatory terms for gender and sexuality are used in the popular song, and PA news agency reports that BBC bosses are understood to be concerned about how younger listeners will react.

The altered version of the track to be played on Radio 1 this year will feature different lyrics sung by MacColl, but the original will still be played on Radio 2, which typically has an older audience.

The station says it will monitor listeners' views, however.

Meanwhile, Radio 6 Music will have both incarnations in its library so that presenters and/or producers can choose between them with discretion.

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."

But the decision has drawn criticism on social media, with the corporation coming under fire from both celebrities and political commentators.

Actor Laurence Fox, who recently launched his own political party to "fight the culture wars", accused the BBC of choosing what is and isn't appropriate for listeners' "ignorant little years" in a post on Twitter.

The Guardian columnist Owen Jones tweeted that as as a gay person he isn't "bothered" about the track's use of the word "f*****", adding: "It's an epic song."

Last year, the BBC defended playing the unedited version of the 1987 song in the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special, where it was belted out by the characters Nessa Jenkins and Uncle Bryn.

The show's co-creator Ruth Jones, who plays Nessa, also defended using the song to The Sun.

She said the writers have "to remain true to the characters", who may lack "political correctness".

Jones did, however, recognise that "it is a different climate".

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