Father Ted co-creator Graham Linehan is considering legal action after a decision to cancel a comedy show he was scheduled to appear in at the Edinburgh Fringe

Leith Arches announced on Instagram that it was calling off a Comedy Unleashed show on Thursday evening after learning that Linehan would be the “special guest”. 

The venue claimed it did not know he would be appearing beforehand. 

Why is there a row over this Fringe performance? 

Graham Linehan is known for his outspoken views on Trans Rights, which have become more pronounced over the years.  

Among other things, he has faced criticism for his opposition to gender self-identification and for saying the trans-rights movement provides "cover" for "fetishists, con men, and simply abusive misogynists". He has likened the use of puberty blockers to Nazi eugenics. 

While not referencing his views, the venue said the cancellation was in response to concerns from its long-standing LGBTQ clientele. 

The Herald:

Who is Graham Linehan? 

An award-winning comedy writer from Ireland, Linehan was the man behind hits such as Father Ted, the IT Crowd and Motherland. He also wrote for a string of shows, working with Steve Coogan among others.  

In recent years, however, his output has dwindled as he has become more involved in anti-trans activism.  

READ MORE: Leith Arches axe show featuring Graham Linehan

He has said that his belief have cost him his job, contributed to the break-up of his marriage and lost him many friends.  

Who else was on the bill, and who organised the show? 

The show was put on by production company Comedy Unleashed, set up by GB News host Andrew Doyle and comic writer Andy Shaw, which claims to promote shows which “host free-thinking comedians who leave their self-censorship button at the door”. 

The company champions up-and-coming comedians and encourages them to try put material which may not be suitable for the “tramline orthodoxy” of the comedy circuit.  

Also on the bill were comedians Dominic Frisby, Alistair Williams and Mary Bourke. Linehan was credited as “Famous ‘Cancelled’ Comedian”.  

What has been the reaction from the organisers and the venue? 

Leith Arches has defended its decision to cancel the show. 

The venue said: “As you will be aware by now, this Thursday's Comedy Unleashed has been cancelled. It was brought to our attention at the very last minute of the very controversial line up. 

“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. 

“This decision was not influenced by the pressure of online activists, but by our regular community who use the space on a daily weekly and monthly bisis. 

“Sorry for any inconvenience caused.” 

The Herald:

What else is being said?  

Scottish Columnist Euan McColm has rushed the Linhan’s defence, accusing the venue of “cowardice”. 

Writing in the Spectator magazine, he said: “Any erosion of freedom of expression is bad for everyone. If we saw off the half of the boat occupied by those with whom we disagree, our half sinks, too. 

READ MORE: Should comedian's Fringe show have been cancelled?

“This latest cancellation of a Fringe show at the behest of activists marks another dark day for the city of the Enlightenment.” 

SNP MP Joanna Cherry said: “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 and anti free speech hotspot". 

What happened with Joanna Cherry and how was this resolved? 

Ms Cherry previously had her own show at The Stand Comedy Club cancelled over her own views on Trans rights.  

Staff at the venue refused to work at the event, meaning it could not go ahead. 

The show was later reinstated after The Stand was threatened with legal action, as Ms Cherry said the ban amounted to discrimination of the grounds of her legally-held views.  

What other shows have been cancelled?  

It’s not just trans-related issues which have cause performances to be called off. Last year veteran 

comedian Jerry Sadowitz performance at the Pleasance Theatre was cancelled over what was claimed to be “"extreme racism, sexism, homophobia and misogyny".” 

Mr Sadowitz is performing at the Fringe this year, with no complaints so far.

What has happened since?

Production company Comedy Unleashed has since announced that it has found a new venue for the gig – but opted not to name the place where the show will go ahead.