Singer Nick Cave slams BBC for censoring Fairytale of New York, claiming they are 'mutilating an artefact of immense cultural value'
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Singer Nick Cave slams BBC for censoring Fairytale of New York, claiming they are 'mutilating an artefact of immense cultural value'

NICK CAVE has waded into the Fairytale of New York row by criticising the BBC for their censorship of the Christmas classic.

It was announced last week that the British broadcaster would be airing an alternative version of the Pogues' song on BBC Radio 1, to avoid offending their younger listeners - though the original version will still be aired on Radio 2.

The song features a number of derogatory terms, including a homophobic slur, and has been subject to the threat of censorship a number of times over the past few Christmases.

In a statement on Monday, the BBC defended its decision to censor the track, saying: "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 version featuring Kirsty MacColl singing alternative lyrics, provided by the record label."

The lyrics in question feature the words: "You scumbag, you maggot/You cheap lousy f****t". In the alternate version, the last line has been changed to: "You're cheap and you're haggard," while the word "sl*t" has also been silenced at an earlier point in the verse.

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However, Australian singer Cave has slammed the BBC over their decision to play an alternative version.

In the latest instalment of his 'Red Hand Letters' page, Cave wrote that the broadcaster was "mutilating an artefact with immense cultural value" and suggested they ban the song outright rather than strip it of its value by editing it.

"The idea that a word, or a line, in a song can simply be changed for another and not do it significant damage is a notion that can only be upheld by those that know nothing about the fragile nature of songwriting," he said.

"The changing of the word 'f****t' for the nonsense word 'haggard' destroys the song by deflating it right at its essential and most reckless moment, stripping it of its value. It becomes a song that has been tampered with, compromised, tamed, and neutered and can no longer be called a great song. It is a song that has lost its truth, its honour and integrity - a song that has knelt down and allowed the BBC to do its grim and sticky business.

"I am in no position to comment on how offensive the word 'f****t' is to some people, particularly to the young - it may be deeply offensive, I don't know, in which case Radio 1 should have made the decision to simply ban the song, and allow it to retain its outlaw spirit and its dignity.

"In the end, I feel sorry for 'Fairytale', a song so gloriously problematic, as great works of art so often are, performed by one of the most scurrilous and seditious bands of our time, whose best shows were so completely and triumphantly out of order, they had to be seen to believed. Yet, time and time again the integrity of this magnificent song is tested.

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"The BBC, that gatekeeper of our brittle sensibilities, forever acting in our best interests, continue to mutilate an artefact of immense cultural value and in doing so takes something from us this Christmas, impossible to measure or replace. On and on it goes, and we are all the less for it."