Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper on Ding Dong! song

15/04/13

Ben Cooper

The song adopted by anti-Baroness Thatcher campaigners has reached number two in this week's Radio 1 Official Singles Chart.

There was a surge in sales of Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead after the former Prime Minister's death last Monday.

The Chart Show did not play the full song, though it did play in full the rival song, I'm In Love With Margaret Thatcher by the Notsensibles, which charted at number 35.

The BBC has told Newsbeat: "The song was part of the Official Chart on Sunday and there were no editorial reasons not to play it."

Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper explains the reasons behind the decision not to play Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead in full

"Well first of all it's been an incredibly difficult decision to come to. I think I'm between a rock and a hard place on this one.

"I think there's a large part of the population that finds it disrespectful but then on the other hand you have a part of society which has decided to demonstrate in this way and if I wasn't to play it then I would be seen as banning it and that would bring up issues of freedom of speech and censorship.

"So the decision I have made is that I am not going to play it in full but that I will play a clip of it in a news environment.

"And when I say a news environment that is a newsreader telling you about the fact that this record has reached a certain place in the chart and here is a clip of that track."

But you were not going to play it on the Official Chart show as you ordinarily would?

"So within the chart show."

Can you just clarify a little bit more the reason for coming to the decision. It's a compromise isn't it?

"It is a compromise and it is a difficult compromise to come to because you have very difficult and emotional arguments on both sides of the fence and let's not forget you also have a family that is grieving for a loved one who has yet to be buried. And that has played on my mind when I've being trying to make the decision of what is the right thing to do.

"It is historical fact that this record has been chosen as a sort of mark of a demonstration by a part of society and we need to mark that.

"It is our duty, if you like, to inform and educate our audience about that record and the reasons why it's been chosen. But on the other hand it is not a political record.

"It is not Shipbuilding. It is not a Billy Bragg record. It is actually a personal attack on an individual."

Have you been affected by the pressure then?

"No, I think Radio 1 and 1Xtra take difficult editorial decisions about taste and decency and music day in and day out.

"We have to think of the issues of swearing or imagery, violence against women or knife crime. Issues every day that we are making decisions about.

"When you make a decision normally that is made by a production team but with some decisions you realise they have an enormity around them.

"You have a sense that this is very much more than just a Radio 1 story. That is very much the case with this.

"So as is the way with the BBC you refer up and I referred up to the Director of Radio and also to Director General Tony Hall and I went to them with my suggestion and we concurred and we all agreed that this was the right way forward."

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