Why we're playing 'Ding Dong The Witch is Dead' on Radio 1's Sunday 14 April 2013 Chart Show

Controller

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There are times as Controller of Radio 1 when you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place. The rise up the charts of the Judy Garland * song “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” is one of those moments.

I find the campaign to promote the song in response to the death of Baroness Thatcher as distasteful as anyone and I’ve thought long and hard about how to respond.

On one side there is the understandable anger of large numbers of people who are appalled by this campaign. On the other there is the question of whether the chart show – which has run since the birth of Radio 1 in 1967 – can ignore a high new entry which clearly reflects the views of a big enough portion of the record buying public to propel it up the charts. Above all, in the middle of this furore is a grieving family.

Nobody at Radio 1 wishes to cause offence but nor do I believe that we can ignore the song in the chart show, which is traditionally a formal record of the biggest selling singles of the week. That in turn means that all songs in the chart become an historic fact.

I’ve therefore decided exceptionally that we should treat the rise of the song, based as it is on a political campaign to denigrate Lady Thatcher’s memory, as a news story. So we will play a brief excerpt of it in a short news report during the show which explains to our audience why a 70-year-old song is at the top of the charts. Most of them are too young to remember Lady Thatcher and many will be baffled by the sound of the Munchkins from the Wizard of Oz.

To ban the record from our airwaves completely would risk giving the campaign the oxygen of further publicity and might inflame an already delicate situation.

Ben Cooper is Controller, BBC Radio 1.

A statement was also published on the BBC Media Centre website earlier this afternoon.

 

* [ Updated Sunday 14 April 2013 at 21:20 ] At the time of writing this blog post, it was believed that the song 'Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead' was to be credited to Judy Garland. Since the release of the charts on Sunday 14 April 2013, the song has been credited to the Wizard of Oz Film Cast by the Official Charts Company.

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  • Comment number 1322. Posted by Jon Jacob

    on 15 Apr 2013 16:49

    Hello,

    Thanks to all for leaving comments on this post. Due to the high level of interest in this post, the unprecedented number of comments for an About the BBC post and the need to pre-moderate all comments, we have decided close this thread. Thanks once again for reading and engaging with us.

    Best

    Jon Jacob
    Editor, About the BBC Website & Blog

  • Comment number 1321. Posted by Eric Pode of Croydon

    on 15 Apr 2013 16:48

    I bet this one gets past the moderators.

    I think The Right Honourable, Baroness Thatcher was a wonderful woman
    I think all BBC output should be censored by the Government of the Day
    I think the Privy Council should have the ultimate veto on all material from the BBC
    I think the licence fee should be at least £5,200 a year

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  • Comment number 1320. Posted by Eric Pode of Croydon

    on 15 Apr 2013 16:38

    Well there you go, I knew you wouldn't be able to read my last post as it actually mentioned the name of the author of this article. Very sensitive BBC, but not when you come in for criticism or even quoting from the article we are supposed to be discussing. FREEDOM of EXPRESSION please not CENSORSHIP.

    Do you think the Author of this article is also a moderator of his own blog in his spare time?

    Johnbee #1318. I think you will find that British Airways was also privatised and is now called BA

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  • Comment number 1319. Posted by Eric Pode of Croydon

    on 15 Apr 2013 16:24

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 1318. Posted by JOHNBEE

    on 15 Apr 2013 16:17

    Before Lady Thatcher became PM in 1979 the country was run by theTrade Unions. It was easy for them to do as many key industries were nationalised - run by the state. These are some of the strikes they staged Jan. 1972 Miners Strike begins - Nov 1972 Miners overtime ban State of Emergency declared - Sterling crisis - Jan 1979 - Lorry drivers strike and 1 million local authority workers strike -Winter of discontent. The problem with most of the morons now protesting is they weren't born in those dark days - and they were dark as frequently the power was cut off! I am from a Trade Union family 'Red hot Labour' but everyone became disgusted which is why Lady then Mrs Thatcher was elected and stayed there and saved the country. Now it is only the Good Old BA staff who think that they can hold their customers to ransom! Ah we'll I can do without them!

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  • Comment number 1317. Posted by Eric Pode of Croydon

    on 15 Apr 2013 16:14

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 1316. Posted by damian

    on 15 Apr 2013 15:45

    The World's gone mad, again...
    firstly, a radio station won't play a song
    and now they're going to stop Big Ben going Ding Dong for the duration of the funeral

    Almost makes me want to turn up with a whistle and racket as the circus parades its way through town.

    The funeral should have been a quiet private family affair, respectful for those that wished it, talk about looney tunes

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  • Comment number 1315. Posted by Sine Wave

    on 15 Apr 2013 15:44

    I noticed that Big Ben will now have its chimes stopped when Thatcher arrives. What next? Gort zapping protestors with his sweeping laser eyes?! Then the earth will no doubt stand still as time itself is frozen - utterly ridiculous!

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  • Comment number 1314. Posted by MCGibbo

    on 15 Apr 2013 15:13

    @1312 protests at funerals are something that those vile Westboro Baptist Church Phelps do, if the left want to be likened to them go for it.

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  • Comment number 1313. Posted by Little_Old_Me

    on 15 Apr 2013 14:57

    I wonder what'll ha[[en next week if it reaches No. 1.....

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