BBC Radio 1 will not play original version of Fairytale of New York in bid to avoid offending listeners

BBC Radio 1 will not play the original version of Christmas favourite Fairytale Of New York, in a bid to avoid offending listeners.

The Pogues’ gritty festive hit with Kirsty MacColl is a staple of playlists up and down the country, but in recent years it has been the focus of debate over its lyrics.

The song includes the words "faggot" and "slut" and BBC bosses are concerned that some younger listeners may be upset by the terms.

In order to quell any potential unrest, this year, Radio 1 will play an alternative version of the track, with the record label providing different lyrics sung by MacColl.

The move means that three different BBC radio stations will have their own policy when it comes to the track, which has sold more than a million copies since its release in 1987.

Radio 2 will play the original song, and said it will continue to monitor listeners’ views, but 6 Music said it has made an edited version available and will allow presenters to make the choice.

Some online observers noted that it was a sign of the corporation’s muddled approach to “culture wars” and “woke” attitudes.

In a statement, 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."

It is not the first time the BBC has found itself courting controversy over the song, which reached number two on the Christmas chart in 1987, behind the Pet Shop Boys’ ‘Always on My Mind’.

In 2007 it censored the song, but bowed to mounting pressure to play the uncensored version after a flood of complaints from listeners including Kirsty MacColl’s mother.

The station’s head of music, George Ergatoudis, had ordered the word to be removed from the single but a day later the corporation backed down saying that the singers did not use the word with any “negative intent”.

Andy Parfitt, the station controller 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.

“I understand absolutely the thinking behind this decision. While we would never condone prejudice of any kind, we know our audiences are smart enough to distinguish between maliciousness and creative freedom.”

Last year, the BBC defended using the unedited version in the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special.

The characters of Nessa Jenkins and Uncle Bryn sang it on the show.

Gavin & Stacey co-creator Ruth Jones, who plays Nessa, also defended using the song.

She told The Sun: "It is a different climate. But we have to remain true to the characters, to who they were. Characters in Gavin & Stacey are kind and big-hearted, I believe.

"So I think no one is going to be intentionally hurtful. But by the same token, they’re not necessarily going to be completely politically correct or be aware of political correctness."

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