Film and TV

BBC to air Gavin and Stacey special yet again this Christmas. Yes, the one with the homophobic slur

Josh Milton December 4, 2020
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Gavin and Stacey

Bryn and Nessa performing the controversial song on the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special (BBC/YouTube)

In what may become our new, truly unnecessary Christmas tradition – hearing the word “faggot” blasted from our televisions – the BBC has announced it is airing the Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special again this year.

Yes, that holiday episode, where two characters perform a karaoke duet of The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New York”, which includes the lyric: “You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot.”

The broadcaster unveiled its Christmas schedule Tuesday afternoon (1 December) on Twitter. Gavin and Stacey will air 24 December, Christmas Eve, at 8:40pm.

PinkNews contacted the BBC to clarify whether the homophobic slur will be aired in full this Christmas.

Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special saw characters sing a homophobic slur

Last year, Gavin and Stacey, the beloved comedy starring James Cordon and Ruth Jones, returned after a nine-year-long absence. The long-awaited special drew 12.31 million views when it aired on Christmas Day.

But it included a scene that, both before, during and after it aired, saw the show caught in a crossfire of criticism – the latest flashpoint in an almost yearly culture war around “Fairytale of New York”. It saw the cast grooving in a bar as characters Bryn (Rob Brydon) and Nessa (Jones) belt out the infamous song.

After James Corden’s character enthusiastically shouts “I love this part!” cameras switch to Brydon timidly singing the contended lyric.

Indeed, the song, regularly rated as the UK’s favourite Christmas tunes, is also regularly plunged into controversy for its inclusion of the homophobic slur.

As appalled fans piled onto the BBC at the time, considering that the phrase can evoke trauma and abuse for LGBT+ people, the broadcaster nevertheless later defended the use of the slur.

BBC bosses threw their support behind show-creators Cordon and Ruth Jones, who made the call to include the song in the special.

But 2020’s debate over the song arrived early this year after BBC chiefs announced BBC Radio 1 will play an “alternative” version of “Fairytale fo New York” in case, they said, its younger audiences are offended by the word.

The station said in a statement that it will air a tweaked version of the song co-sung by singer Kirsty MacColl, who herself was a veteran when it comes to swerving the homophobic lyric, provided by record label Pogue Mahone.

Related topics: BBC, Christmas, Fairytale of New York, Gavin and Stacey, James Corden, the pogues

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