BBC Radio 1 has reversed its decision to censor The Pogues' 1987 Christmas hit Fairytale of New York.

The song, in which the late Kirsty MacColl trades insults with Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan, had been edited as "some members of the audience might find it offensive", the BBC had said.

During the song, MacColl sings to MacGowan: "You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot."

She continues: "Happy Christmas your arse, I pray God it's our last."

Both the word "faggot" and another line in which MacGowan calls MacColl "an old slut on junk" were edited.

But after complaints from thousands of listeners - and MacColl's mother Jean - Radio 1 controller Andy Parfitt has confirmed the decision has been reversed.

"After careful consideration, I have decided the decision to edit the Pogues song was wrong," he said. "Radio 1 does not play homophobic lyrics or condone bullying of any kind. It is not always easy to get this right.

"The unedited version will be played from now on. I want to stress that everyone at Radio 1 and its music team take the issue of language very seriously and enormous care is taken in ensuring that offensive language is edited from records where necessary."

Mr Parfitt added: "While we would never condone prejudices of any kind, we know our audiences are smart enough to distinguish between maliciousness and creative freedom. In the context of this song I do not feel that there is any negative intent behind the use of the words, hence the reversal of the decision."

Jean MacColl - whose daughter was killed by a speedboat off the Mexican coast in 2000 - had called the ban "too ridiculous", while the Pogues - who reformed in 2001 - said they found the ban "amusing".

Ms MacColl told BBC Radio 5 Live's Breakfast programme: "These are a couple of characters - not in the first flush of youth, I would have thought.

"This is the way they spoke. Today we have a lot of a gratuitous vulgarity and whatever from people all over which I think is quite unnecessary."

She added: "They are what they are. These are characters and they speak like that."

The song reached number two when it was first released and was recently voted the best Christmas song of all time in a VH1 poll.

18/12/2007 17:26:37