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BBC edits 'Fairytale Of New York' to avoid offending listeners

Julia Hunt
·Contributor
·2-min read
Shane MacGowan and The Pogues perform on stage at the Carling Academy, in Brixton, south London, Tuesday 20 December 2005. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Joel Ryan/PA. Picture left is Philip Chevron.
Shane MacGowan and The Pogues (Joel Ryan/PA)

BBC Radio 1 will play an edited version of Fairytale Of New York this Christmas following the backlash over its lyrics.

The 1987 Pogues and Kirsty MacColl hit is a festive favourite, but has come under fire for its use of derogatory terms.

In recent years, people have spoken out about the lines referring to “an old slut on junk” and “cheap lousy f*****”, saying it is not appropriate.

Watch: Shane MacGowan doesn't reckon Fairytale of New York is insulting

Read more: Mother of Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan killed in car crash

Radio 1 has now decided to play an alternative version of the track to avoid offending listeners.

DECEMBER 19th : On this day in 2000 singer Kirsty MacColl was killed after being hit by a speedboat whilst scuba diving in Mexico.  Singer Kirsty MacColl performing on stage at The Fleadh music festival in Finsbury Park, central London. 19/12/2000 Singer Kirsty MacColl, 41, has died in a boating accident in Mexico. 20/01/01: Friends and fans will celebrate her life at a memorial service in London.   (Photo by James Arnold - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)
Kirsty MacColl (James Arnold - PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

The record label will provide different lyrics sung by MacColl, with The Sun reporting that the word “f*****” will be changed to “haggard”.

Radio 2 will play the original song, but said it will continue to monitor listeners’ views.

6 Music has made an edited version available and presenters will be able to choose.

The BBC said in a statement: “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.”

Barclaycard British Summer Time Concert, Hyde Park, London, Britain - 05 Jul 2014, The Pogues - Shane Macgowan (Photo by Brian Rasic/Getty Images)
Shane MacGowan (Brian Rasic/Getty Images)

The song is a staple over Christmas but discomfort over its lyrics has been rumbling on for some time.

Last year, radio DJ Alex Dyke reportedly said he was no longer happy about playing it, calling it “offensive”, and there were hundreds of complaints when the uncensored version of the song played in the Gavin And Stacey Christmas special.

Read more: Shane MacGowan has had his teeth fixed in ‘the Everest of dentistry’

Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan has previously defended the use of the lyrics, saying in 2018 that it was meant to represent the "down on her luck" character but was "not intended to offend”.

Watch: Shane MacGowan defends Fairytale Of New York

He said in a statement at the time: “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.

"She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate. Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend!

"She is just supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes characters in songs and stories have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively."

However, the music star said he did not mind if the song was censored.

Additional reporting from PA.