Graham Linehan comedy gig cancelled over gender views

‘We are an inclusive venue and this does not align with our overall values,’ spokesperson said in a social media post

Peony Hirwani
Wednesday 16 August 2023 07:06 BST
Graham Linehan- Father Ted writer suspended from Twitter after transgender remarks

An Edinburgh venue has cancelled a gig featuring controversial Irish writer Graham Linehan, after critics called out his history of remarks about the transgender community.

Linehan, 55, is known to many for being the co-creator and co-writer of the Channel 4 sitcom Father Ted, as well as other comedy series including Black Books and The IT Crowd.

He was suspended from Twitter, now known as X, in 2020 after making a series of controversial remarks about transgender people, but has since been reinstated on the platform.

On Tuesday (15 August), Edinburgh’s Leith Arches, which often hosts queer events, cancelled Thursday’s (17 August) Comedy Unleashed event featuring Linehan.

In a social media post, the venue said: “We are an inclusive venue and this does not align with our overall values. We were not made aware of the lineup of this show in advance.”

The decision to cancel the show will likely regnite the debate over venues that ban events held by gender-critical figures, which was first sparked after another Edinburgh venue, The Stand, cancelled an event headlined by SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

After Cherry shared legal counsel suggesting the venue was unlawfully discriminating against her over her gender-critical beliefs, the venue reinstated her event, which took place last week.

The venue also issued a public apology, admitting the cancellation had been “unfair and constituted unlawful discrimination” against her.

A club spokesman said: “We now publicly and unreservedly apologise to Ms Cherry.”

Posting to X on Tuesday 15 August, Linehan claimed that he had not recieved an explanation for the cancellation from the venue.

“There is no explanation as to what views the Leith Arches find offensive,” he wrote. “[Could] I have some details? Because it sure sounds like discrimination on the grounds of my legally protected beliefs.”

“This looks like a pretty clear case of unlawful discrimination because of a belief,” Cherry replied to Linehan’s post, resharing the legal advice she received for her own event.

Earlier this year, the comedian claimed that his career and social status have not recovered since he began making critical remarks about the trans community.

In an interview with The Times, Linehan claimed that despite previously being involved in reforming Father Ted for the theatre, he’d been asked to end his involvement with the show due to the controversy surrounding him.

“I went to London and they said, ‘We want you off the show.’ And they offered me £200,000 to walk away from it,” he said.

He claimed his refusal to step away led to plans for the show being abandoned, suggesting the producers were “waiting for me to die”.

When approached by the publication, Jimmy Mulville, the managing director of Father Ted’s production company Hat Trick, did not confirm or deny Linehan’s claim about being offered to have his name removed.

However, he said that Linehan’s involvement would make the show impossible to stage in the current climate.

Elsewhere in the interview, Linehan is described as being effectively “cancelled”, as he has “virtually no income, no television career and has lost his old media friends”.

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