The BBC has defended the decision to feature The Pogues’ Christmas song “Fairytale ff New York” in its festive smash-hit Gavin & Stacey — complete with homophobic slur.
The comedy show, created by James Corden and Ruth Jones, was watched by an audience of 11.5M in the UK on Christmas Day, but some viewers complained about the inclusion of the song on Twitter.
Jones’ character Nessa Jenkins and Uncle Bryn, played by Rob Brydon, sing The Pogues’ tune in a pub, and Brydon’s character can clearly be heard repeating the original lyrics: “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy f****t.”
The song receives wide radio play in the UK over the festive season, including on the BBC, but its inclusion in Gavin & Stacey has reignited the debate about whether the lyric is appropriate 32 years after the song was released.
The BBC brushed off the criticism. ”‘Fairytale of New York’ is a very popular, much-loved Christmas song played widely throughout the festive season, and the lyrics are well established with the audience,” it said in a statement.
Jones also addressed the issue in an interview with The Sun. “It is a different climate. But we have to remain true to the characters, to who they were. Characters in Gavin & Stacey are kind and big-hearted, I believe. So I think no one is going to be intentionally hurtful. But by the same token, they’re not necessarily going to be completely politically correct or be aware of political correctness,” she said.