List of songs banned by the BBC

The BBC is the United Kingdom's public service broadcasting corporation and, as such, it has always felt some obligation to standards of taste and decency, to varying levels, at different times in its history. Its "auntie knows best" attitude earned it the nickname of "Auntie BBC" or "Auntie Beeb".

One consequence of this attitude has been the BBC's decision to ban particular records from being played on air. The justification for such bans has included the use of foul language in lyrics, explicit sexual content, supposed drug references (a particularly controversial issue during the late 1960s), controversial political subject matter, maintaining a strict ban on advertising, as in the case of The Kinks' 1970 hit, "Lola", [ [ "Banning songs not a rare occurrence for the BBC", New Zealand Herald, 19 December 2007. Retrieved on 2008-09-17] ] as well as some much less common and unusual justifications. This policy has been seen as highly controversial and heavily criticised at times, sometimes within the BBC itself.

In some cases a ban has been imposed by an individual DJ who refused to play a particular song, whilst colleagues would continue giving it airplay. That was the case of Radio 1's Mike Read who, in January 1984, refused to play Frankie Goes To Hollywood's "Relax (Don't Do It)" on his mid-morning show, declaring it "overtly obscene". [ [ BBC News. 6 October 2000. Retrieved 2008-09-15] ]

While the ban on some of these songs has been officially lifted, other songs have never been officially cleared for airing on BBC radio, and their status is uncertain - in some cases, records which have been banned have since been played on BBC radio without any official announcement that the ban has ended (such as the Beatles' 'A Day in the Life'). The BBC has claimed in recent years that they no longer ban any records - however some songs, such as The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up", are simply not played (or in some cases, not played before 9pm) without any official announcement of a ban.

This category contains information about records which have been banned by the BBC over the years. Some were banned for only a limited time, and have since received BBC airplay - others have never been played to this day and appear to be subject to an indefinite ban.


In some cases, more information about the banned songs can be found in their respective articles.

* "A Day in the Life" - The Beatles (1967) [ [ "BBC — Radio 2 - Sold On Song — TOP 100 - Day in the Life". Retrieved on 2008-09-12] ]
* "Fight For Your Right - Beastie Boys (1987)
* "Gangster Trippin" - Fatboy Slim (1998)
* "Give Ireland Back to the Irish" - Wings (1972) [ [ "The seven ages of Paul McCartney", BBC, 17 June 2006. Retrieved on 2008-09-15] ]
* "God Save the Queen" - Sex Pistols (1977) [ [ BBC News. 14 March 2001. Retrieved 2008-09-15] ]
* "Hi, Hi, Hi" - Wings (1972) [ [ "BBC — Radio 2 - Sold On Song — TOP 100 - Day in the Life". Retrieved on 2008-09-12] ]
* "Invisible Sun" - The Police (1981) [ [ BBC News. 20 June 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-16] ]
* "I Wanna Sex You Up" - Color Me Badd (1991)
* "I Want Your Sex" - George Michael (1987)
* "Jackie" - Scott Walker (1967) [ [ Retrieved 2008-09-16] ]
* "Je t'aime... moi non plus" - Jane Birkin & Serge Gainsbourg (1969) [ [ "Jane Birkin reveals the naked truth about being a Sixties icon", Daily Mail, 25 January 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-17] ]
* "Let's Spend the Night Together" - The Rolling Stones (1967) [ [ "Banning songs not a rare occurrence for the BBC", New Zealand Herald, 19 December 2007. Retrieved on 2008-09-17] ]
* "Lola" - The Kinks (1970) [ [ "Banning songs not a rare occurrence for the BBC", New Zealand Herald, 19 December 2007. Retrieved on 2008-09-17] ]
* "Love Is Strange" - Mickey and Sylvia (1957)
* "Love to Love You Baby" - Donna Summer (1978)
* "Magic Roundabout" - Jasper Carrott (1975)
* "Open Your Box" - Yoko Ono (1971: Original Version)
* "Peaches" - The Stranglers (1977)
* "Relax (Don't Do It)" - Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984) [ [ BBC News. 6 October 2000. Retrieved 2008-09-15] ]
* "Smack My Bitch Up - The Prodigy (1997)
* "Spasticus Autisticus" - Ian Dury (1981)
* "Tell Laura I Love Her" - Ricky Valance (1960)
* "Too Drunk to Fuck" - Dead Kennedys (1981)
* "Urban Guerrilla" - Hawkwind (1973)
* "When I'm Cleaning Windows" - George Formby (1937 & 1950)


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