LONDON, (Reuters) – Britain’s public broadcaster came under fire yesterday for compromising over the song “Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead” that was sent flying up the UK charts by a campaign to celebrate former prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s death.
The song from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” is vying for the No. 1 slot in the UK’s weekly list of the top 40 best-selling singles that are usually played in full on a BBC Radio 1 chart show on Sunday.
As pressure mounted from some politicians and members of the public to ban the “disrespectful” song, the BBC said it would air the track tomorrow but only a short clip as part of a “news item” explaining why the song is in the charts.
“The BBC finds this campaign distasteful but does not believe the record should be banned,” the BBC said in a statement.
The furore was seen as a critical test for the new head of the BBC, Tony Hall, appointed after a sex scandal involving the late TV presenter Jimmy Savile threw the broadcaster into turmoil and raised questions about the organisation’s ethics.
The publicly-funded BBC was criticised for a slow and unconvincing response to revelations that Savile was a serial paedophile abusing children over decades.
BBC Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper acknowledged the decision to air a clip of the Wicked Witch song was a compromise.