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Radio row Rory Cowan blasts the BBC for censoring Fairytale of New York


Rory Cowan

Rory Cowan

Rory Cowan

RORY Cowan has hit out at the BBC’s decision to censor The Pogues Christmas song Fairy Tale of New York. 

The Pogues’ gritty festive hit with Kirsty MacColl is a Christmas staple, though in recent years it has been the focus of intense debate over its lyrics.

This year, BBC Radio 1 will play an alternative version of the track, with the record label providing different lyrics sung by MacColl.

It is understood Radio 1 bosses were wary of offending listeners with the derogatory terms.

Radio 2 will play the original song, but said it will continue to monitor listeners’ views.

But the former Mrs Brown’s Boys star, who has worked with Paul McCartney and Freddie Mercury, insisted that critics of the song’s lyrics have missed the point of the song entirely.

“I think it's terrible that the song is being censored because some people are taking offence, as if being offended makes you right or entitled.

“But it's either that or the song doesn't get played on daytime radio.

“It's shocking that 'no talent' can force mega talent to have to change lyrics to the best Christmas song ever.

“However, if the song doesn't get played the band, and especially the writers, don't get royalties.

“The band aren't touring anymore and their others songs aren't being played off the air, so Fairytale is their main source of income.

“As a result, I couldn't complain about it.”

The actor and former music promoter (61) said that the only thing worse than banning the song is deliberately changing the lyrics.

“Shane’s songwriting is what sets the song apart from all the other Christmas songs out there”, he said.

“He is a genius and he changed the way that we look at Christmas music.

“What is just as bad as calling for it to be banned is changing the lyrics.

“Ronan Keating did that a couple of years ago and it was just terrible, what the hell was he thinking about?

“He can just f**k off because he is changing art.

“Can you imagine if Ronan Keating changed the words of U2 song or a poem, people would be up in arms.

Earlier this week Australian singer Nick Cave blasted the BBC's decision to censor the lyrics.

In a post for his Red Hand Files newsletter, Cave described the collaboration as the “greatest Christmas song ever written.”

Cave, who is a close friend of McGowan's and even attended his 60th birthday bash in Dublin, insists that the new edited version “destroys the song.”

“One of the many reasons this song is so loved is that, beyond almost any other song I can think of, it speaks with such profound compassion to the marginalised and the dispossessed,” he wrote.

“With one of the greatest opening lines ever written, the lyrics and the vocal performance emanate from deep inside the lived experience itself, existing within the very bones of the song.

“It never looks down on its protagonists. It does not patronise, but speaks its truth, clear and unadorned.

“This is the same.

“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."

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Online Editors