BBC Radio 2 explains why it’s playing Fairytale of New York without tired, homophobic slur

The Pogues perform Fairytale of New York with Kirsty MacColl on stage. (Getty)

It’s that festive time of year when, without fail, the debate around the offensive lyrics in “Fairytale of New York” makes an exhausting reappearance.

This year, BBC Radio 2 have added their two cents by announcing they will play the edited version that does not include the controversial homophobic lyric.

They follow Radio 1 which made the switch in 2020, with a BBC rep telling Huffpost: “We know the song is considered a Christmas classic and will continue to play it this year, with our radio stations choosing the version of the song most relevant for their audience.

“On Radio 2 we are reflecting what we are hearing back from many of our listeners who love the song, but find some of the lyrics jarring in 2022, and playing an alternative version provided by the record company.”

The Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl performed an altered version of the song back in 1992. (Getty)

Every radio station will be able to choose which version they play at their discretion.

The Radio 2 version adapts the lines “you cheap, lousy f****t” with “you’re cheap and you’re haggard”, using the late Kirsty MacColl’s vocals.

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This is, of course, a tired issue with The Pogues and the MacColl both agreeing and performing “Fairytale of New York” without the slur as far back 1992. Yes. Three decades ago.

If that is not assurance enough, The Pogues went to the record again in 2020 to defend the censored version against Laurence Fox’s complaints to Radio 1.

After Fox tweeted: “The cultural commissars at the BBC are telling you what is and isn’t appropriate for your ignorant little ears.”

The Pogues snappily replied: “F**k off you little herrenvolk s***e”, with herrenvolk referring to the Nazi ideology of a ‘master race’.

As the LGBTQ+ community continues to be under attack globally from Qatar to the USA, perhaps it is time to move on from the already resolved issue of Christmas lyrics.

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