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Baby boomer station defies woke critics by playing The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York in full

Shane MacGowan pictured drinking and smoking at his favourite London pub
Shane MacGowan pictured drinking and smoking at his favourite London pub - PAUL SPENCER/ALAMY

A radio station will play the Pogue’s Christmas hit Fairytale of New York in its full unexpurgated version after most of its listeners said they would not be offended by its controversial lyrics.

The pledge by Boom Radio comes after the death on Thursday of Shane MacGowan, who sang the 1987 song with the late Kirsty MacColl and co-wrote it.

The lyrics include the homophobic slur “faggot”, which has been censored out by some radio stations in recent years for fear of offending listeners.

However, 91 per cent of those who responded to the survey by Boom Radio said the song should be played in its original form.

Shane MacGowan of The Pogues on stage at The Stockton Weekender in Stockton-on-Tees in 2012
Shane MacGowan of The Pogues on stage at The Stockton Weekender in Stockton-on-Tees in 2012 - STUART BOULTON/ALAMY

In December 2007, Radio 1 started muting the words when the song was played as “members of the audience might find it offensive”.

However the decision was reversed within hours after a backlash. The Pogues were said to have found the BBC’s decision “amusing”.

In 2020 the BBC announced that Radio 1 would play a censored version once more, while Radio 2 would play the original.

The BBC said that  Radio 2 hasn’t played the original version of the Pogues’ Fairytale of New York song since 2021.

In 2020 a new version of the song featured the words “you’re cheap and you’re haggard” replacing “you cheap lousy faggot”.

The same words were used when Ronan Keating and Moya Brennan covered the song in 2000. However, the uncensored version of Fairytale appeared in a 2019 Christmas special of TV comedy Gavin & Stacey, only to be edited out of a repeat of the show in 2020 after the BBC received over 800 complaints.

Phil Riley, co-founder of Boom Radio
Phil Riley, co-founder of Boom Radio - EMILIE FJOLA SANDY

Phil Riley, co-founder of Boom Radio, said: “These decisions are always challenging and each one must be taken in context. Our audience of grown-ups recognise the potential for offence and that language and attitudes have moved on in their lifetimes. In a sense, lyrics from the past actually illustrate the degree of welcome change. They are keen wherever justifiable to hear songs in their original form.”

One Boom listener commented: “I cannot think of any songs that cause me offence. As a gay man I find the original version of Fairytale of New York perfectly acceptable.”

It comes as the wife of late Pogues’ frontman Shane MacGowan said she hopes his song Fairytale of New York will be the Christmas number one in his memory.

MacGowan, 65, died on Thursday, following a long battle with illness.

Fairytale of New York peaked at number two on its original release.

MacColl died aged 41 in 2000 when she was hit by a powerboat while in the sea on a holiday in Mexico.

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