The late Pogues frontman appeared on the show to sing the Irish band’s Christmas classic ‘Fairytale Of New York’, but in a hilarious, quintessentially TV Burp twist, the performance ended up becoming a duet with a giant beluga whale who squeaked along in place of what would have been Kirsty MacColl‘s parts.
Despite the audience being in hysterics, MacGowan plays it completely straight, carrying on with his performance as if it were nothing out of the ordinary.
Hill has been posting to his Instagram account every day of December in a series of posts called ‘Mattvent’, where he shares a photo each day of a rogue mattress found in an odd place alongside old clips from TV Burp, which aired on Saturday nights between 2001 and 2012.
Check out the clip of MacGowan’s appearance below:
In a further Instagram post, Hill shared some extracts from his memoir Fight! where he recounted the experience of having MacGowan on the show.
Hill had come up with the idea of MacGowan singing ‘Fairytale Of New York’ with a beluga whale played by a runner, but had been told by his producer Spencer that he was “having a laugh” and that there would be “no way he’s going to say yes to that!’”
In the book, he wrote: “His agent explained to Spencer that Shane got a huge number of requests every Christmas to sing his Christmas hit and that he always turned them down. But he knew he was a fan of TV Burp — so he’d ask him.
“Much to everyone’s surprise, he said yes. His fee was five hundred quid cash to the bloke who was with him and a bottle of vodka for Shane.”
However, the show nearly went wrong. “Shane was due at about half past two and we were all very excited to meet him,” Hill continued. “At three o’clock, Spencer ambled onto the studio floor, which I knew spelled trouble because usually, he was up in the gallery with a can of Fanta and a big bag of Monster Munch.
“‘Shane MacGowan’s agent just called,’ he said, ‘Shane is unconscious in his hotel room — so we need to revert to plan B — you’ll need to sing the song.’ Bugger! I thought, bitterly disappointed.
“Then Spencer’s phone rang again. ‘OK . . . thanks for letting me know,’ said Spencer. ‘That was Shane’s agent again. Apparently, Shane’s woken up, they’ve filled him with coffee and he’s in a taxi on his way — so we’ll stick to plan A.’”
MacGowan turned up with a litre bottle of White Lightning cider in each hand. “He looked like a ghost — the Ghost of Christmas 1988, in fact,” Hill wrote.
“I joked afterwards that it was the one time we had someone in the studio who was more pissed than the director. “‘Who’s going to get those out of his hands?’ whispered Spencer.
“We were all paranoid that having got him to the studio, something might upset him and he might suddenly bolt. The director, bless him, introduced himself to Shane and gently prised the bottles from his hands … but he let go of the booze. Game on!”
Hill continued: “The intro to the song started up, and when Shane sang, something happened to him — he was transformed. He sounded exactly the same as the record.
“We were all held in rapture — it was really quite beautiful. Even the bits where the runner dressed as the beluga whale squeaked his responses had a forlorn quality. At the end, I walked on over and did my sign off. Shane cackled, then whacked the whale on the head with the microphone – a punk to the last! We got it in one take.”