Graham Linehan: Second venue cancels Father Ted writer’s comedy show

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

A second Edinburgh venue has cancelled a stand-up comedy show featuring Father Ted writer Graham Linehan, according to organisers.

Hours before the gig was due to begin, Comedy Unleashed said it would still go ahead despite the new cancellation.

They said ticket holders had been emailed with another location.

The original venue, Leith Arches, pulled out of hosting the show amid concern about Mr Linehan’s views on transgender issues.

He has threatened legal action if the venue refuses to reverse its decision and apologise.

It has sparked a wider debate on freedom of speech.

It is not clear where the stand-up show, which features four other acts under the banner “edgy comedy is back”, will be held.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, Comedy Unleashed said: “Our replacement venue has cancelled on us too, but we’re still going ahead tonight at 7.30!

“Ticket holders have been emailed with the new location.”

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Mr Linehan’s appearance in the comedy showcase was initially kept under wraps with organisers only describing him as a “surprise famous cancelled comedian” on the bill.

But the venue called off the entire show within hours of his identity being confirmed on Tuesday, saying they had not been made aware of the line-up 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,” they said in a post on Instagram.

“We work very closely with the LGBT+ community, it is a considerable part of our revenue, we believe hosting this one off show would have a negative effect on future bookings,” they later added.

Graham Linehan received an International Emmy Comedy Award for The IT Crowd in 2008

Mr Linehan is often at the centre of heated rows over trans issues and women’s rights on social media, with opponents accusing him of transphobia.

In a BBC Newsnight interview in 2020 he compared the medical treatment of transgender teenagers with puberty blockers to Nazi human experimentation.

He told TalkTV on Wednesday: “The most important view I have is that it is a crime against humanity to tell children they may have been born in the wrong body.”

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

A 2008 episode of The IT Crowd which involved a transgender storyline was pulled from Chanel 4’s streaming service in 2020.

He was suspended from Twitter shortly afterwards, with the social media giant claiming he 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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