Graham Linehan breaks down in tears during defiant street performance after being cancelled at Edinburgh Festival

18 August 2023, 07:58

Graham Linehan performs in the street after being cancelled by venues at the Edinburgh Festival
Graham Linehan performs in the street after being cancelled by venues at the Edinburgh Festival. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Father Ted writer Graham Linehan broke down as he delivered a street performance after being cancelled by two venues over his gender critical views.

He performed outside Holyrood last night after a second venue also cancelled his comedy performance - amid outrage after the initial planned venue also axed the show.

Mr Linehan told MailOnline: “They can't really hurt me anymore.

“The time they were able to hurt me was when I was still married. When they were coming after my family, that was when it was painful, horrible and unpleasant. I had to go on anxiety medication.

“When enough of that happened and they broke us up, then they couldn't hurt my wife and kids anymore.”

The show featuring Graham Linehan was first cancelled by Leith Arches
The show featuring Graham Linehan was first cancelled by Leith Arches. Picture: Alamy

“I think trans-rights activists are the most evil people in the world and I do love making them angry because they're terrible people.”

His show was cancelled by Leith Arches, with the venue saying his views do not ‘align’ with their values.

Show organiser Andrew Doyle, said the replacement venue also cancelled. He tweeted last night: “Our replacement venue for Comedy Unleashed at the Edinburgh fringe has now also cancelled on us.

“So @Glinner [Graham Linehan] and the other acts will do the gig on a small stage outside the Scottish parliament at Holyrood at 7:30pm.

“This show is happening, whether these activists approve or not.”

One fan of Linehan said: “It's pathetic, it's censorship. Frankie Boyle was here, was disgusting, but we wouldn't want him cancelled. It's so embarrassing, the Edinburgh Fringe used to push the boundaries and be edgy and now it's not. “I’ll be boycotting the Edinburgh Fringe from now on.'

The Comedy Unleashed event featuring Linehan, a vocal critic of aspects of the trans rights movement, was due to take place on Thursday at the Leith Arches venue at the Edinburgh Fringe.

But the venue posted a "cancellation announcement" on Instagram on Tuesday, saying: "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."

The show gives a platform to 'unwoke' comics and would have seen Mr Linehan joined by three other performers.

The advertising for the Comedy Unleashed event had said a "famous 'cancelled' comedian" would be among those performing.

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They billed it as an "Edinburgh Fringe Event", though it does not appear on the official line-up.

Reacting to the news, Linehan tweeted: "Holy s**t the venue has cancelled the WHOLE GIG because I'm on the bill."

In a subsequent reply to a supporter, he added: "We'll find a venue and we'll sue the Leith Arches if we don't.

"In all conscience, I cannot withhold from the world my fifteen minutes of under-rehearsed stand-up comedy about pizzas."

He told another fan the event had been "sold out".

SNP MP Joanna Cherry posted online: “More petulant cancellation. Someone in a position of political or cultural leadership needs to call this out or Edinburgh, the home of the enlightenment, is in danger of becoming an unlawful discrimination & anti free speech hotspot”

Linehan was banned from 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.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Comedy Unleashed wrote: "The venue (Leith Arches) has cancelled our gig this Thursday following pressure from censorious activists

"Is there an #Edfringe venue that believes in free artistic expression that will host us?"

It comes after comedian Jerry Sadowitz last year hit back at the Edinburgh Fringe venue which cancelled his show, claiming it "cheapened and simplified" his work.

The Pleasance axed the second of his two nights after saying it had received an "unprecedented" number of complaints and "abuse" was directed at some of its staff.

The show, titled Not for Anyone, was billed as featuring "whacky impressions of Greta Thunberg, Frankie Boyle and deep vein thrombosis" and saw the comedian expose himself to the audience.

The venue said his show was "extreme in its racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny" and the language used on its stage was "completely unacceptable".