BBC Defend Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special After Complaints

By Cara Dudgeon

10th January 2020

The BBC have defended the Gavin and Stacey Christmas special, despite receiving nearly 900 complaints

Image Source/ NME

The return of the sitcom was watched by an average of 11.6 million people on Christmas Day, but following the episode the BBC was hit with 866 complaints after the word “f****t” went uncensored when characters Bryn and Nessa – played by Rob Brydon and Ruth Jones – performed a rendition of The Pogues’ festive tune ‘Fairytale of New York’.

After being contacted by viewers who were “unhappy” that the lyric – “you cheap lousy f****t” – was sung during the programme, the BBC have now said:

”Fairytale of New York’ is a well-established, much-loved Christmas song which tells the story of a troubled couple in 1940s New York.

‘The descent of their 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.

‘While the word ‘f****t’ 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’.

The BBC also insisted there was “no intention to offend viewers” by including the song’s line in the episode.

They added:

‘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 have previously stated that they feel it is ‘unlikely that audiences would widely perceive [the song] as a serious attempt to denigrate the homosexual community”.

Despite the lyric controversy, Gavin and Stacey was a huge success, achieving the highest Christmas Day TV ratings in more than a decade.

The next most-watched programme was the Queen’s Christmas Broadcast, which was watched by 7.85 million people.

The top five of the ratings were rounded out by Strictly Come Dancing, EastEnders and Michael McIntyre’s Big Show, all three of which were broadcast on BBC One.

Charlotte Moore, Director of BBC content, recently said:

‘We delivered something for everyone with the seven most-popular programmes that cap off an incredible year for BBC One celebrating British talent and creativity’.

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