BBC Dilemma Over Thatcher Witch Song

wicked_witch_west08:51 Friday 12th April 2013
Bigger Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[P]AUL STAINTON: Before we go, we’ll end with the controversy on the song Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead. A lot of people who are vehemently against Margaret Thatcher and were out celebrating her death this week have been encouraging people to download and buy the Wizard of Oz track. Which should take preference though? Freedom of speech or good taste? That’s the debate that’s broken out ahead of this Sunday’s Chart Show. Because the song in the mid-week charts was at number four, and there are reports that it could be number one by this Sunday. But supporters of the Iron Lady are urging the BBC not to play the song, out of respect to the former Prime Minister. ..Some think it should be played, some think it shouldn’t. Gennaro Castaldo is from HMV of course. He’s been looking at the sales this week. Morning Gennaro.
PAUL STAINTON: Are the BBC going to be forced to play it? Is it going to be number one?
GENNARO CASTALDO: Well it’s building a lot of momentum, isn’t it? I think it was in the top ten a few days ago, and now the official charts company has said that on sales up to yesterday it’s got up to number four. So if people continue downloading it there’s a chance over today and the course of tomorrow that it could make it to number one, especially if everyone obviously keeps discussing it and talking about it, and giving it that promotion.
PAUL STAINTON: The danger is as well, for those people that want it banned, when you ban a song, a la Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Relax, it gets more popular, doesn’t it?
GENERO CASTALDO: Absolutely. The BBC are damned of they do or if they don’t, to be honest with you. Because if they don’t play it out of reasons of taste and some of the arguments you’ve just heard, then they’ll be accused of censorship. And ironically they’ll probably give it even more publicity and encourage even more sales of it. If they do play it obviously then they might offend people. So they can’t really win. But I think what they should do is they’re not there to be censors. They’re there to reflect and report things as they are, and if people are downloading it for whatever reason, and whatever the rest of us think, then it is a matter of fact that it is the number one. So I think as a compromise they shouldn’t be playing it in the way that they would play other songs, but at the end of the chart show, if it is at the top there, then I think they should just quickly play it with a minimum of fuss and not give it any more publicity really.
PAUL STAINTON: Where do you download it from? I wouldn’t have thought it’s out as a single anywhere is it? Where is it, without wanting to give it loads of airplay?
GENNARO CASTALDO: You can just download it. That’s the other thing, is the likes of iTunes and Amazon are making a lot of money out of this, so people are just helping the big organisations to get even more money. But yes, I guess any site that allows you to download music, you can get it from there really. And it’s just so interesting, because anecdotally it feels like a lot of people doing it weren’t even born during Thatcher’s Premiership, or perhaps would have been very young, and wouldn’t have been aware of all the political consequences. So it is interesting to see how society is responding to this. And of course it couldn’t have happened a few years ago, because you’d have to physically print a single, distribute it, buy it. You wouldn’t have had these sorts of songs being popular. But now with the internet, absolutely anything can make it into the charts if people organise themselves, if they respond to an online viral campaign. And I think we’re going to have more of this in future. I just think it’s sad in a way that a song associated with such a beautiful film, a film of innocence, is being used to celebrate the passing of a human being.
PAUL STAINTON: Gennaro, Thank you for your views this morning, and thank you for your expertise as well. So it’s currently in the top five. Gennaro Castaldo from HMV thinks the BBC should play it.