BBC Controller’s dilemma as Ding Dong song enters music charts

1930’s song back on the charts… as a final protest.

A song from 1930s movie The Wizard of Oz has made it to number 2 on BBC Radio’s chart show as a final protest against Margaret Thatcher.

A campaign to push Ding Dong the Witch is Dead to number one by massive online sales in the week Baroness Thatcher died nearly achieved its aim, with the song getting to number two behind a track from Duke Dumont. It sold 52,605 copies.

Seen as a joke by some and a final anti-Thatcherite protest by others, the song was also viewed as disrespectful by many, creating a dilemma for BBC Radio 1 as it prepared its chart program for this week.

Should The Official Radio 1 Chart Show broadcast the song or not, was a dilemma that had to be resolved by Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper, who wrote on his blog:

There are times as Controller of Radio 1 when you find yourself caught between a rock and a hard place. The rise up the charts of the Judy Garland * song “Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead” is one of those moments. I find the campaign to promote the song in response to the death of Baroness Thatcher as distasteful as anyone and I’ve thought long and hard about how to respond.”

In the end, Copper decided that he should not distort the official chart and the song should be played, but he decided that the whole song would not go to air.


A short clip was embedded into a music report, explaining the controversial nature of the song that moved into second place in the charts.

Presenter Jameela Jamil: “We have got a brand new entry at No 2. To explain more, here is Newsbeat’s music reporter Sinead Garvan.

Garvan: “Tributes poured in across the world for Margaret Thatcher when she died on Monday, but there were also people throwing street parties around the UK.

“An online campaign began in 2007 to try to get this song, Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead, to No 1 in the charts the week Lady Thatcher died.”

(A seven-second clip of the song)

Garvan: “Margaret Thatcher was Britain’s first female prime minister and the longest-serving of the 20th century. She strongly divided political and public opinion.

“Critics accused her of putting millions out of work and not caring about the poor during her time in charge.

“There were many that loved her who say she changed the UK for the better by taking Britain’s then-failing economy and making it successful.

“The full track is just 51 seconds long and is taken from the 1930s film the Wizard of Oz. Much like Margaret Thatcher’s political career, this song divided opinion. Some politicians have said it is disrespectful to play it while others say it’s fine to because she stood for freedom and allowing people to have their say.

“Radio 1 controller Ben Cooper made the decision not to play the track in full. Many of you have been telling us what you think.”

Vox pop: “What’s disrespectful maybe is the parties celebrating her death but this is quite funny, I don’t see what the harm is.”

Second vox pop: “I think it’s disgraceful no matter what you think about Margaret Thatcher’s policy. At the end of the day, you have got to show a little bit of respect.”

The music news report was 40 seconds longer than the original song.

In a rear guard action, Thatcher supporters conduicted their own campaign, trying to get the 1979 punk rock song I’m In Love With Margaret Thatcher also into the chart. That song entered chart at position number 35, selling 8768 copies.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Aircheck reports that the number 3 song in the UK, Pink’s Just Give Me A Reason, topped this week’s Australian charts.

The controversial issue was widely reported in British news reports in this week of the Thatcher funeral. Here is how one BBC report covered it, including audio of the report.

Both videos also significantly increased their YouTube views this week.