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BBC reconsiders ‘Fairytale’ censorship

Decision to cut vulgar words met with criticism

BBC execs rediscovered some Christmas cheer and rethought their plans to censor “Fairytale of New York,” a festive fave as ubiquitous in Blighty as mince pies.

The song, written and recorded by Irish musicians the Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl two decades ago and a staple of yuletide festivities, is much-cherished for its salty, unsentimental lyrics. “You scumbag, you maggot,” sings MacColl during one of the duet’s more memorable refrains.

Execs at the BBC’s flagship Radio 1 provoked an outcry, however, when they decided to cut the “F” word, despite years of being aired in its entirety. Also nixed was Pogues’ frontman and songwriter Shane MacGowan’s riposte of “an old slut on junk.”

“Gratuitous vulgarity” and “unnecessary” came the cries from Radio 1 reps wheeled out by the Brit pubcaster to defend its decision.

The decision was met with bemusement and criticism all around, including MacColl’s mother, Jean, and Radio 1 breakfast DJ Chris Moyles. Even sister channel Radio 2 ignored the ban by continuing to air the song uncut.

And so the inevitable happened. “The unedited version will be played from now on,” said Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt.

The song, which only made it to No. 2 in the U.K. charts when released in 1987, has been re-issued in the hope that it will finally make it to the top of the charts this year.

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