Graham Linehan's 'unwoke' show axed by Edinburgh Fringe over Father Ted creator's gender views

16 August 2023, 08:46 | Updated: 16 August 2023, 08:58

An Edinburgh Fringe show featuring controversial writer Graham Linehan has been cancelled by the venue
An Edinburgh Fringe show featuring controversial writer Graham Linehan has been cancelled by the venue. Picture: Alamy/Social Media

By Asher McShane

A stand-up comedy show featuring Father Ted creator Graham Linehan has been cancelled after complaints were made to the venue about his views on gender issues.

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".

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