BBC will not play ’Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ on radio countdown show

Margaret Thatcher and Pierre Trudeau as shown in Australia in this Oct. 4, 1981 file photo. Ex-spokesman Tim Bell says that former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has died. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Bregg
Peter Bregg/CP

The decision has been made. The BBC announced Friday that it will not play “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” on a top-40 radio countdown show in the week after former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher’s death.

While many mourned the death of the former prime minister on Monday, others have celebrated, using The Wizard of Oz‘s “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” as an unofficial anthem.

As the song has been downloaded, played, and replayed, it has shot up to No. 3 on the charts and there is even a Facebook campaign to get it to No. 1.

Usually, the song’s No. 3 spot would mean that the song, in full, would be played on the BBC’s weekly Official Chart Show, along with the other top 10 songs in the United Kingdom. But not this week.

BBC Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper said that the decision not to play the song on Sunday’s show was a difficult one and he explained the decision like this:

“You have a track which I believe is disrespectful. It is not a political track, it is a personal attack on an individual who has just died.

“But on the other hand, if I ban the track then you have arguments about censorship and freedom of speech.

“I also took into account the very difficult scenario of the fact there’s a grieving family involved here who have yet to bury a loved one.

“So those sort of elements were in my thinking to come up with this decision that I would play not the track in full, but a clip of the track within a journalistic environment.”

Instead, the BBC will air a five-second clip from the song as part of a news package.

This goes against the BBC’s position just a day earlier, when sources inside the BBC told The Guardian that the radio station was planning to play the song in its entirety, but that it would explain why it was being played.

Politicians from both the Labour and the Conservative parties also weighed in on BBC’s decision, reports The Daily Mail. Both parties said that playing the song would have been inapproproate.