December 18, 2007 / 8:48 PM / 10 years ago

BBC reverses Pogues "faggot" ban

LONDON (Reuters) - A boss at BBC Radio reversed on Tuesday a decision to cut the word “faggot” from a Christmas hit after the mother of the singer branded the move “ridiculous.”

In “Fairytale of New York,” released 20 years ago by the Irish band the Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl, she sings “You scumbag, you maggot/You cheap lousy faggot.”

BBC bosses decided to edit the word “faggot” each time the song was played because it was offensive to some of their audience. But they backed down after MacColl’s mother and hundreds of fans complained.

Andy Parfitt, controller of the public broadcaster’s Radio 1, said the decision to edit the song was wrong.

“Radio 1 does not play homophobic lyrics or condone bullying of any kind,” he said. “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.”

The song is a perennial favorite around Christmas and is battling for the lucrative number one spot in the charts this year. It has also topped several Best Christmas Song polls.

MacColl died in 2000 when she was killed by a speedboat off the coast of Mexico. Her mother Jean, speaking on BBC’s Radio 5 Live, called the ban “too ridiculous.”

“These are a couple of characters,” she said, referring to the characters in the song.

“Today we have a lot of a gratuitous vulgarity and ... whatever from people all over which I think is quite unnecessary. These are characters and they speak like that.”

A spokeswoman for the band said they would be amused to hear about Radio 1’s initial decision to edit the song.

“This song now goes with Christmas like the Queen’s speech and mince pies, and all of a sudden it’s offensive,” she said. “It strikes me as very odd and I‘m sure the band will be very amused.”

Reporting by Mike Collett-White and Peter Griffiths; Editing by Steve Addison and Robert Woodward

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