‘Cancelled’ Father Ted creator to sue over Fringe show

Father Ted creator Graham Linehan is threatening legal action after his stand-up show was cancelled because of his views on gender.

The Leith Arches venue axed the comedian’s Edinburgh Fringe performance within hours of finding out he was the surprise guest lined up for an “edgy comedy” night.

Mr Linehan, 55, has been ­outspoken about transgender issues, arguing that men and women cannot change sex and that biological women deserve their own spaces.

He has now found an alternative venue for today’s gig but will not reveal it until this afternoon. He said earlier: “You do get used to this kind of thing after a while.

“The only good thing about it is that it’s drawing more attention to the fact that, essentially, a group of highly ­ideological cultists have taken over institutions across society.

“If they apologise and put the gig on, I’ll say no more about it but otherwise, I’ll be looking at legal action.”

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Andrew Doyle, co-founder of Comedy Unleashed, the group putting on the show, said: “Those who claim that ‘cancel culture does not exist’ will struggle to explain how it is that one of the most successful sitcom writers of all time now cannot work in the comedy industry.”

Joanna Cherry, the SNP MP whose own fringe show was cancelled earlier this year due to her gender critical views, only to have it reinstated after she threatened legal action, said Mr Linehan would have a strong legal case for discrimination.

She said: “Someone in a position of political or cultural leadership needs to call this out or Edinburgh, home of the enlightenment, is in danger of becoming an unlawful discrimination and anti-free speech hotspot.”

The venue pointed out some of its customers had been “rightly outraged” that it was to provide a platform to the writer and that his presence would “violate our space”.

Mr Linehan, who also helped create popular sitcoms Black Books and The IT Crowd, made his stand-up debut in February, at another Comedy Unleashed event in London.

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Andy Shaw, the other co-founder, rejected suggestions that he should have been open with the venue that Mr Linehan was the “surprise famous ­cancelled comedian” referred to. Mr Shaw said: “With Edinburgh being the heart of the Enlightenment and the Edinburgh Comedy Festival being the biggest comedy festival in the world… you wouldn’t expect it. When are people going to learn their lessons, and venues actually stand up for free expression in the arts?”

Asked why he had not given the venue a “heads up” that Mr Linehan would be on the show, he said: “You want people to pre-vet acts?

“To submit a script as if you’re in Stalinist Russia.”

Leith Arches posted a revised cancellation announcement on Instagram on Tuesday, saying: “We have made the decision to cancel this show, as we are an inclusive venue and this does not align with our overall values.”

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