Father Ted writer Graham Linehan comedy show cancelled over gender views

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Graham LinehanImage source, PA Media

A comedy show featuring Father Ted writer Graham Linehan in Edinburgh has been cancelled due to complaints.

Leith Arches said it had pulled the gig because it did not support the comedian, and his views do “not align with our overall values”.

The writer has been been an outspoken critic of transgender self-identification.

Mr Linehan urged the venue to reconsider its decision and suggested the cancellation might be unlawful.

Leith Arches said it had been unaware Mr Linehan would be taking part in the show which was organised by a third party.

In a social media post it thanked members of the public for their complaints about his scheduled appearance this Thursday.

It wrote: “We do not support this comedian or his views and he will not be allowed to perform at our venue and is cancelled from Thursday’s comedy show with immediate effect.”

Mr Linehan responded on X, formerly Twitter, by challenging the venue to explain which of his views it found offensive.

He posted: “It sure sounds like discrimination on the grounds of my legally protected beliefs.”

Image source, PA Media

Image caption,

Graham Linehan, pictured at a Let Women Speak rally in Belfast earlier this year

Earlier this year another Edinburgh venue, The Stand, cancelled a scheduled Fringe festival appearance by SNP MP Joanna Cherry after staff said they were not comfortable with her views on transgender issues.

But the comedy club later reinstated it and apologised, admitting the cancellation was “unfair and constituted unlawful discrimination against Ms Cherry”.

The In Conversation With… Joanna Cherry event took place last week.

Ms Cherry, who is also a top lawyer, later posted that the Linehan case “looks like a pretty clear case of belief discrimination” and hit out at “more petulant cancellation”.

The booking website for the show had promised an evening of “edgy comedy” featuring four named comedians and a “surprise famous cancelled comedian”.

It was organised by Comedy Unleashed, set up by GB News host Andrew Doyle, which says it supports comedians who “leave their self censorship button at the door”.

Mr Linehan co-created the Channel 4 comedy Father Ted and later wrote Black Books and The IT Crowd.

In 2008 an episode of The IT crowd was criticised over its transgender plot line.

Mr Linehan was later involved in a number of acrimonious social media disputes with trans activists, and in 2020 was permanently suspended from Twitter which claimed he had breached rules on “hateful content”.

In an emotional BBC interview last year, the Dublin-born writer told Nolan Live he had been unfairly targeted over his views, losing him work and contributing to the break-up of his marriage.

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