The Sun Has Got His Hat On

The Sun Has Got His Hat On is a song by Noel Gay and Ralph Butler. It is known for its appearance in the 1985 version of the musical Me and My Girl,[1] and was originally recorded in 1932 by two popular UK dance bands – Ambrose and his Orchestra, with vocals by Sam Browne, and by the Henry Hall BBC Dance Orchestra with vocals by Val Rosing.[2]

Controversy over lyrics

In the original 1932 version of the song, the second verse contains the lines

He's been tanning niggers out in Timbuktu
Now he's coming back to do the same to you[3]

Use of the word "nigger" was socially acceptable in the 1930s, but is considered offensive today.[4] The word is found in both the Ambrose and Henry Hall recordings of the song. In the Jonathan King version, released in 1971 under the artist name "Nemo", the line was changed to "He's been tanning Negroes".[5] Modern performances of the song have included lines such as "He's been roasting peanuts" (suggested by Stephen Fry) instead.[6]

When Calendar, an ITV1 news programme broadcast a version of the song with the word in May 2012, a complaint was made to Ofcom.[4] ITV Yorkshire described the incident as an "unintended mistake" and the matter was considered to be resolved after an apology.[7]

In May 2014, a listener complained after BBC Radio Devon presenter David Lowe played the Ambrose version of the song with the controversial word during his show on 27 April.[8] He said he had not realised that the 1932 recording contained the word. Lowe was forced to resign, and although later offered his job back, he did not return.[9]


  1. Morley, Sheridan (2004). "'Gay, Noel (1898–1954)'". Oxford DNB. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 12 May 2014.
  2. Rust, Brian. “The Dance Bands”. Rustbooks, 1972, p. 358.
  3. "BBC Radio Devon DJ David Lowe loses job over racist word". BBC News. 2014-05-11. Retrieved 2014-05-11.
  4. 1 2 Sweney, Mark (2012-06-26). "ITV feels the heat over N-word song lyrics". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
  5. Jonathan King, 70 FFFY, 2014, p.289
  6. Stephen Fry, More Fool Me, 2014
  7. Laughlin, Andrew (2012-08-28). "ITV 'Calendar News' escapes racist song gaffe rebuke". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on May 11, 2014. Retrieved 2012-09-28.
  8. "An All British Post War Cavalcade of Song" BBC Radio Wiltshire. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  9. Ellis, Dawn (2014-05-11). "Torquay DJ David Lowe speaks out after racist blunder at BBC". Herald Express. Retrieved 2014-05-12.

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