THE BBC has issued a statement defending the controversial lyrics that feature in The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s signature festive hit Fairytale of New York.
It comes in the wake of figures revealing the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special drew more than 800 complaints related to a scene in which two characters perform a karaoke version of the Irish song.
The scene sees Rob Brydon and Ruth Jones’s characters perform the song, including the controversial lyric “you cheap lousy faggot”, which is sung by Brydon’s character Bryn, completely uncensored.
It had been confirmed, prior to the episode airing, that the song would feature with the original lyrics, completely uncensored.
But despite this prior warning, the BBC confirmed it attracted 866 complaints over the scene and inclusion of the contentious lyrics.
Speaking in a statement issued to The Independent, the BBC defended the inclusion of the lyrics in the sitcom special, which was the most watched programme of the festive period in the UK.
“The descent of [the couple in the song’s] relationship is reflected in the increasingly abusive and offensive terms they use to address each other; insults which are intended to reflect the language that such characters might have used in that era.
“The origin of the word includes a definition which describes it as a contemptuous and antiquated word for laziness, and the author of the song has cited this inference behind his inclusion of that line.”
The statement added: “While the word faggot is now widely acknowledged as having the potential to offend, the song never suggests or implies that this is, or was ever, an appropriate way to address another person, nor does it link it to homosexuality.
“Nessa and Bryn were seen singing the original lines and we can assure you there was no intention to offend viewers. We understand that some people will find it offensive in any context but we also recognise that the song is widely played and enjoyed in its original form.
“Ofcom has previously stated that it feels it is ‘unlikely that audiences would widely perceive [the song] as a serious attempt to denigrate the homosexual community’.”
The Gavin & Stacey Christmas special was the most-watched scripted show of the decade with consolidated viewing figures released by the BBC showing that 17.1 million people watched the programme,