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Radio Ulster will play unedited version of Pogues' Fairytale of New York


Popular: The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale of New York is a huge Christmas hit

Popular: The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale of New York is a huge Christmas hit

Popular: The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s Fairytale of New York is a huge Christmas hit

BBC Radio Ulster will play the uncensored version of Christmas favourite Fairytale of New York in line with the broadcaster's nations' radio services.

The Pogues' festive hit with Kirsty MacColl includes the words "faggot" and "slut", and has come under criticism in recent years.

It was announced last month that Radio 1 will play an alternative version of the track, with the record label providing different lyrics sung by MacColl, who died in 2000 after being hit by a powerboat while swimming at Cozumel, Mexico.

Radio 1's edited version will feature the line "you're cheap and you're haggard", with the word "slut" silenced at an earlier point in the verse.

Bosses at Radio 1 have since confirmed that their decision came down to younger listeners who may take offence at derogatory terms for gender and sexuality.

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

A BBC spokesperson explained yesterday that the nations' radio services, which includes Radio Ulster, will play the original version of the song in line with the approach taken by BBC Radio 2.

South Antrim Alliance MLA John Blair, who is gay, previously said the BBC's decision to play a different version of the song to different age groups was "nonsense".

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in a personal capacity yesterday, Mr Blair said his position remains unchanged regarding the BBC's decision to play a censored version of the track on Radio 1.

"I really was surprised there was a controversy when this song has been around for so long," he said. "I would add to that it has been around for so long without controversy previously.

"We need to understand the difference between hate speech and freedom of speech and I don't think there's anything in the song that is a direct attack on anyone or is perceived as such.

"I was surprised at the controversy and I was even more surprised that BBC centrally are going to differentiate between age groups in relation to a song."

Announcing that Radio 1 would play a censored version of Fairytale of New York last month, 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."

On Sunday, the BBC was forced to explain its reasoning behind the decision once more.

The broadcaster added to its original statement, telling Metro: "We are aware that young audiences are particularly sensitive to derogatory terms for gender and sexuality, and after considering this carefully, Radio 1 has decided to play a full version featuring Kirsty MacColl singing alternative lyrics, provided by the record label."

Last year, the BBC defended using the unedited version of the 1987 song 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 defended using the song, telling 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."

Belfast Telegraph