‘Fairytale of New York’ banned by BBC radio presenter after he called it ‘offensive bilge’ | The Independent | The Independent

‘Fairytale of New York’ banned by BBC radio presenter after he called it ‘offensive bilge’

Track remains an annual controversy-magnet due to its lyrics

Adam White
Wednesday 04 December 2019 08:42
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Shane MacGowan discusses his song 'Fairytale of New York'

A BBC radio presenter has banned The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl duet “Fairytale of New York” from his show after calling it an “offensive pile of downmarket chav bilge”.

BBC Radio Solent’s Alex Dyke tweeted that he wasn’t comfortable with the song’s lyrics, which include Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan calling MacColl an “old sl*t on junk”, and MacColl calling him in return a “cheap, lousy f*****”.

The tweet, which has since been deleted, said: “Radio, let’s ban ‘Fairytale of New York’ this Christmas! ‘You’re a sl*t on junk, you scumbag, cheap lousy f****t’ – is this what we want our kids singing in the back of the car?”

He continued: “It’s an offensive pile of downmarket chav bilge. We can do better!”

On his radio show, Dyke further explained to his listeners that he would not be playing the track this festive season. “I hope I’m not going to ruin your Christmas,” he said, “but I’ve decided that I am no longer comfortable with playing ‘Fairytale of New York’ by The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl.”

“I think Christmas songs should be about excited children, toys, Christmas trees, snowy streets, ski lodges, reindeer, wrapping paper, Santa, family, peace on earth and love,” the DJ added. “I just find The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York’ a nasty, nasty song.”

‘Offensive bilge’: Dyke’s since-deleted tweet

“Fairytale of New York” is a source of annual consternation due to its lyrics, with some radio stations censoring the track to prevent possible offence.

In 2017, MacGowan defended the track’s use of the word “f*****”, writing in a statement: “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!” he added.

“Fairytale of New York” reached number two in the UK Top 40 on its release in 1987, and continues to be one of the UK’s most popular Christmas songs. In 2018, it resurfaced to reach number four in the charts.

In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: “This was Alex’s decision. There is no ban. We have a strict music policy that we expect to be followed.”

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