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U.K. DJ calls for ban of The Pogues’ ‘Fairytale of New York,’ citing offensive lyrics

Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan (The Pogues frontman) with with toy guns and an inflatable Santa in a festive scenario, circa 1987.
Kirsty MacColl and Shane MacGowan (The Pogues frontman) with with toy guns and an inflatable Santa in a festive scenario, circa 1987. Tim Roney/Getty Images

WARNING: This article contains coarse language and may be offensive or inappropriate for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.

Alex Dyke, a DJ for BBC’s Radio Solent, has called for a nationwide ban of Fairytale of New York, the vulgar 1987 Christmas classic by The Pogues and the late Kirsty MacColl.

Earlier this week, the 57-year-old radio host called the profanity-filled duet an “offensive pile of downmarket chav bilge,” in a since-deleted tweet, as reported by NME.

His critical remarks came in response to a variety of lyrics featured in the song, including “You’re an old sl*t on junk / Lying there almost dead on a drip in that bed,” and perhaps the most controversial line, “You scumbag, you maggot / You cheap lousy f**got.”

“Is this what we want our kids singing in the back of the car?” asked Dyke. “Radio. Let’s ban Fairytale of New York this Christmas.”

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Later on, during his radio show, Dyke revealed that he would no longer play the much-beloved track on-air.

“I hope I’m not going to ruin your Christmas,” he said, “but I’ve decided that I am no longer comfortable with playing Fairytale of New York.

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A BBC spokesperson told the Independent that the “ban” was solely Dyke’s decision.

“There is no ban,” they wrote. “[The BBC] have a strict music policy that we expect to be followed.”
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Dyke said on his show that he thinks “Christmas songs should be about excited children, toys, Christmas trees, snowy streets, ski lodges, reindeer, wrapping paper, Santa, family, peace on earth and love.”

“I just find The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York a nasty, nasty song,” he concluded.

Primarily in the U.K., the song has been subject to a great amount of controversy over the years. Though it has remained a holiday staple for more than three decades, it is frequently censored during radio shows and TV broadcasts, as reported by the Independent.

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Shane MacGowan, frontman of the since-disbanded English punk group, addressed the matter in a statement provided to Virgin Media’s The Tonight Show last year.

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Particularly on the use of the word “f**got,” the 61-year-old said “the word was used by the character because it fitted with the way she would speak.”

“She is not supposed to be a nice person, or even a wholesome person,” he wrote. “She is a woman of a certain generation at a certain time in history and she is down on her luck and desperate. Her dialogue is as accurate as I could make it but she is not intended to offend!

“She is supposed to be an authentic character and not all characters in songs and stories are angels or even decent and respectable, sometimes… [they] have to be evil or nasty in order to tell the story effectively.
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“If people don’t understand… then I am absolutely fine with them bleeping the word but I don’t want to get into an argument.”

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca