The Sun Has Got His Hat On

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"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[edit]

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 considered socially acceptable by white audiences in the 1930s, but is generally regarded as 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 instead included lines such as "He's been roasting peanuts" (written by Stephen Fry for his 1984 revival of Me and My Girl).[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. ^ a b Sweney, Mark (26 June 2012). "ITV feels the heat over N-word song lyrics". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 September 2012.
  5. ^ Jonathan King, 70 FFFY, 2014, p.289
  6. ^ Stephen Fry, More Fool Me, 2014
  7. ^ Laughlin, Andrew (28 August 2012). "ITV 'Calendar News' escapes racist song gaffe rebuke". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 28 September 2012.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  8. ^ "An All British Post War Cavalcade of Song" BBC Radio Wiltshire. Retrieved 11 May 2014.
  9. ^ "BBC Radio Devon DJ David Lowe loses job over racist word". BBC News. 11 May 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2020.