Graham Linehan axed by second Fringe venue following accusations of transphobia

‘Father Ted’ writer is an outspoken critic of the trans rights movement

Tom Murray
Thursday 17 August 2023 22:14 BST
Graham Linehan- Father Ted writer suspended from Twitter after transgender remarks

A second Edinburgh Fringe Festival venue has pulled the plug on Father Ted writer Graham Linehan’s forthcoming stand-up comedy performance.

The news comes after Linehan’s original venue, Leith Arches, announced on Tuesday (15 August) that his show was cancelled following complaints from “outraged members of our community”.

Linehan, a self-described “gender critical” activist, has been accused of transphobia and hate speech for his comments about transgender people.

Organisers Comedy Unleashed have now vowed to hold their show at a third venue, with the details being kept firmly under wraps until Thursday night’s show starts.

It is understood the only people who know where the show is being held are ticket holders who have reportedly received the details by email.

Original venue Leith Arches took the decision to cancel their booking of Linehan earlier this week, saying the Irishman’s views did not “align” with their overall values.

Linehan, who also wrote TV sitcoms The IT Crowd and Black Books, is a vocal critic of the trans rights movement.

Graham Linehan said he would consider suing Leith Arches for cancelling his gig (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Leith Arches said on Wednesday: “It was brought to our attention at the very last minute of the very controversial line-up.

“We work very closely with the LGBT+ community, it is a considerable part of our revenue, we believe hosting this one-off show would have a negative effect on future bookings.”

Comedy Unleashed said it had found a second venue to host Linehan’s scheduled performance but it too has now reportedly decided to pull the show.

The club said on X, the micro-blogging site formerly known as Twitter: “Our replacement venue has cancelled on us too, but we’re still going ahead tonight at 7.30! Ticket holders have been emailed with the new location.”

Earlier this week, Linehan told TalkTV’s Julia Hartley-Brewer he would consider suing Leith Arches for cancelling his gig if it refused to take him back.

He said: “It was a sell-out. But you do get used to this kind of thing after a while. It never really makes you feel good.

“If they apologise and put the gig on, I’ll say no more about it, but otherwise I’ll be looking at legal action.”

Comedian Andrew Doyle, who is due to appear alongside Linehan at another scheduled Comedy Unleashed show in London next month, said: “It is astonishing that a comedy night at the largest arts festival in the world should be prevented from going ahead, simply because activists are offended.

“The comedy industry is in a dire state. It’s about time that promoters, venues, comedy critics and comedians made a concerted effort to support free expression in the arts.”

Leith Arches insisted earlier this week its decision to cancel Thursday’s booking was not influenced by activists.

It said: “The decision was not influenced by the pressure of online activists, but by our regular community who use this space on a daily, weekly and [monthly] basis.”

Additional reporting by the Press Association

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