Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan considers legal action over cancelled Edinburgh comedy show | UK News

Aug 16, 2023 | Uncategorized

Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan will consider taking legal action against an Edinburgh venue unless it apologises and U-turns over cancelling a comedy show he was set to appear in.

Leith Arches pulled the plug on the Comedy Unleashed event after it received complaints that Mr Linehan was on the bill.

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

In an interview with TalkTV on Wednesday, Mr Linehan told The Julia Hartley-Brewer Breakfast Show: “I actually would suggest that the Leith Arches reverse its course because they’ve said enough online for an easy win in the courts.

“So, if they apologise and put the gig on, I’ll say no more about it. But otherwise, I am going to be looking at legal action.”

In a statement to Sky News, Leith Arches said the show would have a “negative effect on future bookings” and was “not a good fit” for the venue.

A spokesperson said: “We are a very small independent business.

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

“The decision is not influenced by online activists, but by our regular community who use our venue on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

“We are not against freedom of speech. The show is not a good fit for our venue.”

In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Leith Arches said it was not made aware of the line-up of the show in advance.

The post said: “We would like to thank members of the public and our community for bringing to our attention a comedy act billed to perform at our venue this Thursday.

“We were not made aware of the line-up of this show in advance.

“We have made the decision to cancel this show, as we are an inclusive venue and this does not align with our overall values.”

Advertising for the Comedy Unleashed event had said a “famous ‘cancelled’ comedian” would be among those performing.

It was billed as an Edinburgh Fringe Event, but it does not appear on the official line-up.

Mr Linehan said his appearance at the sold-out gig was announced on Tuesday morning.

He said: “And I was quite surprised they announced it because it’s always a risk to announce me appearing at something – and it was cancelled within a couple of hours maybe.

“I had two hours of enjoying the, you know, excitement from people and fans saying they were going to go.

“You do get used to this type of thing after a while.

“It’s never pretty, never makes you feel good. But the only good thing about it is that it’s drawing more attention to the fact that, you know, essentially a group of highly ideological cultists have taken over institutions across society.”

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

He was banned from X, formerly known as Twitter, in 2020 for breaking its rules around “hateful conduct” with comments about trans people, but his account was reinstated after Elon Musk took over.

Mr Linehan said: “The most important view I have is that it is a crime against humanity to tell children that they may have been born in the wrong body.”

He also believes women deserve “fair sport” and said the likes of Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies and tennis champ Martina Navratilova have been “abused” for their views on trans athletes.

Read more:
SNP MP says she’s been ‘cancelled’ over gender views after Edinburgh Fringe event scrapped

Earlier this year, The Stand was forced into a U-turn after cancelling a scheduled Edinburgh Fringe event featuring SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

The comedy club initially said it was unable to host the show after key operational staff said they were “unwilling” to work it due to Ms Cherry’s gender-critical views.

However, it later apologised and said the decision was “unfair and constituted unlawful discrimination” against the politician.

The event took place last week.

Responding to Comedy Unleashed’s announcement that the event had been scrapped, Ms Cherry, who is also a top lawyer, said: “Looks like a pretty clear case of belief discrimination.”

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