Fresh criticism has landed at the BBC’s doorstep today (Monday) following the broadcaster’s decision not to play “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” in full. But could the complaints have been avoided by some more sensitive handling of the divisive song?
Originally connected to Margaret Thatcher as part of a protest conceived back in 2007, the song surged to number two in the charts following the death of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, ahead of her funeral this Wednesday (April 17).
The jaunty Judy Garland track, from the musical The Wizard of Oz, sold more than 52,000 copies but fell significantly short of Need U (100%) by Duke Dumont and A*M*E in the number one spot.
In a blog post on the BBC website on Friday, Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper said the BBC would not be playing the song in full, instead playing a clip and a news item explaining its rise up the chart, leading to a maelstrom of debate over whether the controversial chart entry should be played in full.
Emotions have been running high since Lady Thatcher’s death on April 8. The most Googled terms for the last seven days includes three Thatcher-related keyword searches, and those who loved and loathed the Iron Lady have had their say in a deluge of articles and posts across blogs and social media.
Inevitably, given how divisive the former PM was, a counter-protest was launched, and more than 8,000 copies of “I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher”, a 1979 hit by punk band Notsensibles, were sold, landing the song a spot at number 35.
But instead of a similar excerpt and news item explaining why a 34 year old song was alongside Justin Timberlake, Michael Buble and Taylor Swift in the chart, the BBC opted to play the song in full, leading to complaints from anti-Thatcher protestors that their song wasn’t afforded the same treatment.
It was a classic rock-and-a-hard-place position the BBC were put in, but the decision to not treat the counter-protest song with the same sensitivity could be seen as an opportunity missed to put the issue to bed.