Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Why Father Ted creator Graham Linehan has been trending all week

It has been a difficult week for Father Ted and IT crowd creator Graham Linehan. The comic, who is now probably best known for his outspoken views against gender ideology in the last five years, started trending on Twitter on Tuesday. Online pandemonium was unleashed when an Edinburgh venue pulled the plug on his Fringe comedy show over those views.

Linehan, who has won five BAFTA awards for his comedy, first waded into the transgender debate when an episode of the IT Crowd was criticised by some as being transphobic. His argument that transgender activism endangers women, and that it is wrong to give puberty blockers to children, has made him one of the most high-profile stars to fall victim to cancel culture.

He says his stance has made it impossible for the man, who once had it all in his industry, to get work. In 2018, the fallout for his views began, when his plans for a hotly anticipated Father Ted musical were suddenly no more when it was cancelled by producers due to his views on transgenderism.

Linehan had previously said it would finish the much-loved series as had been planned before the death of lead actor, Dermot Morgan.

The 55-year-old has said that backlash and ill-treatment for his views left him on anxiety medication, inflicted untold pain on his family, and even cost him his marriage. It is not hard to understand why he views the ‘be kind’ brigade who have been so unrelenting in their takedown with contempt.

Linehan was cancelled this week by not just one, but two venues, who refused to host him because of his views, which he says are held by the majority of people. Original venue Leith Arches cancelled their booking earlier this week – writing in a statement that the Dublin writer’s views “do not align with our overall values.”

Many were left wondering when on earth it became a requirement for comedy to align with moral values.

Leith Arches went on to say on Instagram that hosting Linehan would have been detrimental to business, which really gives an insight into where we are at: if you say you don’t believe that gender is fluid and you do in fact believe in biological sex, you will, like Linehan, be shunned — and even face consequences financially.

In a post which does not allow comments, the venue wrote: “It was brought to our attention at the very last minute of the very controversial line up. We work very closely with the LBGT+ community, it is a considerable part of our revenue, we believe hosting this one-off show would have a negative effect on our future bookings.”

Andrew Doyle, organiser of Comedy Unleashed, the event which was hosting Linehan, then broke the news that their replacement venue had also cancelled, tweeting: “Our replacement venue for Comedy Unleashed at the Edinburgh Fringe has also now cancelled on us.”

Comedy Unleashed’s co-founder, Andy Shaw, meanwhile, shed further light on why the second venue, found by Shaw at very short notice, cancelled the gig on Thursday afternoon, just hours before it was set to go ahead:

“I just think it’s become such a big issue,” he said, adding that “people are just getting cold feet and don’t want the attention, and I understand that.”

“They just want a quiet life. It has been the hardest gig I have ever organised in my life,” he admitted. “It should have been a lot easier.”

However, Linehan refused to be beaten or cowed, and on Thursday, performed on the street outside the Scottish Parliament. In a defiant performance in front of a small crowd lasting for 50 minutes, he described the events of the week as “insane” – calling the last few days the strangest of his 30-year-long career.

“It’s just insane. I mean, I’ve been fighting this stuff for five years, and I’ve never seen anything as insane as [the] last few days,” he said.

“And I keep asking people what I’ve said wrong and what I’m saying wrong in this fight about women’s spaces, about children being mutilated in and sterilised in gender clinics and about the women who are being harassed and threatened for standing up.”

As the audience applauded, a clearly emotional Linehan went on: “Comedy is my first love, it’s the thing I love to do, but I have not been allowed to do that for five years.

“And this is just what I decided I would do… a couple of silly jokes, and they can’t even let me do that,” the dejected writer said.

When asked how he felt the show went, Linehan admitted that the atmosphere was “strange.”

“Well I don’t know, it was weird, some of those jokes were sure fire wins but they didn’t land tonight, but it was a bit of a strange atmosphere,” Linehan said, according to a Daily Mail write-up on it.

Regardless of how it went, Linehan could hold his head high that he didn’t bow down to the mob – and while he ended up performing outside, to a small crowd of 120, he has attracted broad admiration online from all sorts of people for standing his ground.

”I think the important thing was to do it. So I’m glad I can say I’ve played the fringe… this one I had to mail but I was kind of dependent on the audience’s goodwill. I don’t want to do that, I want to be funny.

“I was nervous but not so much of the audience but of the whole situation. It’s like what’s going to happen, it’s insane.

“I’m all protested out,” he added. If something had happened I would have just gone to the pub […] Yeah I think they pulled off something great here.”

What’s next for Linehan? The 55-year-old says he is now considering legal action against that venue, arguing that they are guilty of discrimination on the grounds that gender-critical beliefs are protected under the UK Equality Act.

It’s clear Linehan has lost a lot. His career lies in tatters all because of his expression of a legally protected and increasingly shared viewpoint: that men cannot be women. He has gone from acclaimed comedy genius who had it all to blacklisted thought criminal in the space of five short years, proving just how fleeting popularity and fame can be if you do not align yourself with establishment thought and virtue.

But after the tumultuous events of this week, many of us will agree that Linehan, for all he has lost for taking on transgenderism, still has the courage of his convictions – which is ultimately much more than can be said for others in his industry.

Share mdi-share-variant mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-printer mdi-chevron-left Prev Next mdi-chevron-right Related Comments Members can comment by siging in to their account. Non-members can register to comment for free here.
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Do you agree with the Government's plan to reduce speed limits?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...