13 Apr 2013

Music show embroiled in anti-Thatcher controversy

8:32 am on 13 April 2013

The BBC says it will play only an excerpt from a song seen as celebrating the death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in its weekly top 40 music show, and only then in a news context.

When Lady Thatcher died on Monday a campaign emerged to get the track Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead into the UK top 40 as a comment on her death.

The song from the 1939 Hollywood musical The Wizard of Oz film has reached No. 3 based on downloads.

A five-second clip will be played in a news item in BBC Radio 1's Official Chart Show on Sunday explaining the controversy.

BBC Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper said the move had been a difficult compromise in balancing respect for someone who had just died with issues of freedom of speech.

The Conservative MP for Reading East, Rob Wilson, said the track should be played in its entirety.

"I think that Margaret Thatcher would be horrified having helped free millions of people in eastern Europe and been the symbol of freedom around the world that she could in any way have censorship in her own country," he said.

Singer Jarvis Cocker told the BBC that Lady Thatcher may not have minded the controversy as she had appeared to thrive on conflict.

Rival campaigns are under way to get a song considered to be more favourable to Lady Thatcher into this week's countdown as well.