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Daily Mail in a ding dong over this weekend’s Radio 1 chart show

By | Published on Friday 12 April 2013

Margaret Thatcher

The BBC is under pressure about this weekend’s ‘The Official Chart’ show and whether or not to play all or any of the 51 seconds of ‘Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead’, which seems likely to go into the top five on Sunday on the back of the Facebook campaign that has encouraged people to download the ‘Wizard Of Oz’ track in the wake of Margaret Thatcher’s death on Monday.

Needless to say the Daily Mail, always seeking the anti-BBC angle in any news story, is leading the charge, putting the Corporation’s chart show challenge on its front page today, after insiders at the Beeb said yesterday that Radio 1 would likely play the record on Sunday evening.

Indicating that was so, a spokesman for the broadcaster said that what gets played on the chart programme was down to sales rather than BBC policy, saying simply: “‘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”.

Word has it that Radio 1 might ask a journalist from its Newsbeat team to speak before the track is played, to explain to the station’s target demographic – many of whom weren’t even born when Thatcher was Prime Minister – why she remains such a controversial figure, to the extent that something like the ‘Ding Dong’ campaign can occur concurrent to all the tributes that have been paid to the former Tory leader since her passing earlier this week.

But, says the Mail, the BBC has banned controversial songs before, and – according to the tabloid, with its ever fluid views on censorship based on causing possible offence – a similar ban should be instigated here. MPs of all political persuasions, it adds, have said it “would be wrong to give airtime to a song denigrating our greatest peacetime Prime Minister less than a week after her death”.

The chart dilemma story follows earlier criticism by the Mail of the BBC’s coverage of Thatcher’s death which, it said, showed leftwing bias, even though more viewers complained that the Corporation’s news reports were overly positive when summarising Thatcher’s record as PM.

Of course there is a strong argument that the whole campaign to get ‘Ding Dong’ into the chart is in bad taste, though given how much Thatcher relished noisy opponents in her prime, it’s hard to believe she herself would be too bothered by the whole thing.

Interestingly, as the copyright has expired in the ‘Wizard Of Oz’ sound recording in Europe, had the orchestrators of the Facebook campaign thought to upload ‘Ding Dong’ to iTunes themselves they could have profited financially from the whole affair too. And perhaps their failure to do so is the real assault on what Thatcherism stood for?

[UPDATE: The BBC has now said that the Radio 1 Chart Show will not play the song in full on Sunday – read more here.]