BBC defend use of 'F word' in Gavin & Stacey after almost 900 complaints

Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special 2019

The BBC has defended the use of the 'F word' during the Gavin & Stacey Christmas special.

Christmas Day saw a one-off special of the hit BBC sitcom 10 years after it last aired.

In one scene Nessa and Uncle Bryn, played by Ruth Jones and Rob Brydon respectively, sing The Pogues' hit Christmas song Fairytale of New York including the lyric using the word 'f****t'.

It prompted a number of complaints to the BBC with a total of 866 objections made.

But the BBC has defended using the song in the scene.

They said in a response: "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.

"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”.

Ruth Jones also spoke about deciding to air the song unaltered.

She told The Sun newspaper: "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."

Starring Mathew Horne and Joanna Page, supported by a cast including James Corden, Ruth Jones, Rob Brydon, Larry Lamb, Melanie Walters and Alison Steadman, Gavin & Stacey's one-off special aired on Christmas Day.

Creators and writers Ruth Jones and James Corden said of the show's return: “Over the last ten years we’ve talked a lot about Gavin and Stacey - where they might be today and what their lives might look like.

"And so in secret we took the plunge and wrote this one hour special. We’ve loved revisiting Barry and Essex again and bringing the characters back together has been a joy."

Gavin & Stacey's special was watched by over 10 million viewers, the most watched Christmas Day programme for over a decade.

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