BBC censors Wizard of Oz ‘anti-Thatcher’ song


This music video from Britain, of a song, originally from the musical The Wizard of Oz, says about itself:

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

Published on April 9, 2013

A video dedicated to the life and times of Margaret Thatcher and everything she ruined…

The lyrics from the musical The Wizard of Oz, of course, do not mention the name “Margaret Thatcher” even once.

The Press Association in Britain wrote yesterday:

Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead‘ Reaches Top 5 In The Charts After Margaret Thatcher’s Death

11/04/2013 14:09 BST

The Wizard Of Oz track which has had a surge of popularity in the wake of Baroness Thatcher‘s death is on course for a place in the top five.

An online campaign has driven sales of Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead, and the latest placings released by the Official Charts Company show it had sold 20,000 copies up to last night and is now at number four.

The late former prime minister divided opinion and while many have mourned, some have seen her death as a cause for celebration, prompting a download surge for the song.

The chart position includes sales of all the versions of the song from the 1939 film recording, while a separate cover version by Ella Fitzgerald from 1961 is currently outside the top 75.

This music video is called Ella Fitzgerald – Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead.

The song is also on course to become the shortest top 10 single ever, with the most popular version running to 51 seconds.

The BBC said it would decide whether to play the track during Radio 1’s top 40 countdown when places are finalised at the weekend.

It said: “The Official Chart Show on Sunday is a historical and factual account of what the British public has been buying and we will make a decision about playing it when the final chart positions are clear.”

‘Ding-Dong! The Witch Is Dead’ On Course For Number One After Margaret Thatcher Dies: here.

Well, today the chart positions are clear. And the BBC does not talk anymore about their Top 40 show being “a historical and factual account of what the British public has been buying”. They have decided to censor a 74-year-old musical song out of sycophantic loyalty to Margaret Thatcher and her Conservative party. The BBC says playing the song in the show, like they play all other hit songs, would be “tasteless.” So, they censor the song Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead. All but five seconds of it.

“Tasteless”? How about middle of the road songs in the charts, which maybe fans of punk rock think are tasteless? How about heavy metal, which classical music lovers may dislike? Etc. etc. etc. No-one is forcing Thatcher admirers to buy this 74-year-old Judy Garland song.

Associated Press writes:

Fri April 12 2013 13:19:00

Ding-dong over Thatcher song is latest censorship controversy for BBC

LONDON – A 70-year-old song is giving the BBC a headache.

The radio and television broadcaster has agonized over whether to play Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead, a tune from The Wizard of Oz that is being driven up the charts by opponents of Margaret Thatcher as a mocking memorial to the late British prime minister.

A compromise announced Friday — the BBC will play part of Ding Dong!

a part of five seconds

but not the whole song on its chart-countdown radio show — is unlikely to end the recriminations.

This is not the first time Britain’s national broadcaster, which is nicknamed “Auntie” for its “we-know-what’s-good-for-you” attitude, has been caught in a bind about whether to ban a song on grounds of language, politics or taste.

Here’s a look at some previous censorship scandals:

SEX, DRUGS AND DOUBLE ENTENDRES

The 1960s and ’70s saw several songs barred from airplay for sex or drug references, including The Beatles’ A Day in the Life, for a fleeting and implicit reference to smoking marijuana.

The BBC frequently has been targeted by self-appointed moral guardians, most famously the late anti-smut activist Mary Whitehouse, who campaigned for decades against what she saw as pornography and permissiveness.

In 1972, Whitehouse got the BBC to ban the video for Alice Cooper’s School’s Out for allegedly being a bad influence on children. The controversy helped the song reach No. 1 in the charts, and Cooper sent Whitehouse flowers. He later said she had given his band “publicity we couldn’t buy.”

But Whitehouse’s campaign to get Chuck Berry’s My Ding-a-Ling banned on grounds of indecency was unsuccessful. The BBC’s chief at the time told Whitehouse that, while the song’s title could be seen as a double entendre, “we believe that the innuendo is, at worst, on the level of seaside postcards or music hall humour.”

POLITICAL PITFALLS

Paul McCartney may now be the cuddly elder statesman of pop, but his first single with the band Wings, Give Ireland Back to the Irish, caused a storm.

Written after the 1972 killing of 13 Irish nationalist protesters by British troops on “Bloody Sunday” in Londonderry, the single was barred from all TV and radio airplay in Britain — but reached No. 1 in Ireland, where it was not banned.

The Sex Pistols’ God Save the Queen — with its opening refrain “God save the queen, the fascist regime” — was released in 1977, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee.

The BBC banned it on the grounds of “gross bad taste,” and some stores refused to stock it, to the delight of the punk band, whose anti-establishment credentials were cemented by the controversy.

It remains one of the most famous songs never to reach No. 1 on the charts. It hit No. 2, but was kept from the top spot by Rod Stewart’s I Don’t Want to Talk About It.

Punk fans sensed a conspiracy, and debate still rages over whether the Pistols’ song really did reach No. 1.

BUOYED BY A BAN

God Save the Queen and School’s Out aren’t the only examples of how an airplay ban can boost a song.

In 1984, BBC DJ Mike Read pulled the plug on Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood midway through its first broadcast, calling the thumping, lyrically suggestive song obscene.

Though it wasn’t officially banned, the BBC did not play it. The controversy helped push the song by a then-unknown band up the charts, where it stayed in the No. 1 spot for five weeks.

CENSORS AND SENSIBILITIES

While the moral panics of past eras can seem ridiculous, this week’s Thatcher controversy shows that the central issue — which is worse, censorship or causing offence? — is both complex and unresolved.

Police fear ‘death parties’ will disrupt Margaret Thatcher’s funeral procession. But officers rule out the use of rubber bullets and water cannon in the event of any trouble: here.

RMT calls for union revival to mark death of Thatcher: here.

Where Thatcher’s memory is tied to war. Wounds of 1982 Falklands war, ordered by late UK PM and which cost many Argentinian lives, still linger: here.

10 thoughts on “BBC censors Wizard of Oz ‘anti-Thatcher’ song

  1. Ah well, at least a bit of censorship is consistent with her political beliefs and her term in office. How many politically embarrassing or awkward TV news programmes or documentaries were banned or self-censored by the BBC and other British broadcasters during her rule? Not to mention the government ban in the 1980s and early ’90s on democratically elected politicians from the North of Ireland appearing on British TV or radio. Can’t have the people back home in Britain knowing what is really being done in their name as Britain’s Dirty War in Ireland grew ever more brutal.

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