Father Ted creator Graham Linehan has said he will consider legal action if a decision to cancel a comedy show he was scheduled to appear in at the Edinburgh Fringe is not reversed.
The venue, Leith Arches, announced on Tuesday evening that it would not allow the Comedy Unleashed show to take place on Thursday evening due to the writer’s outspoken views on gender issues.
Organisers Comedy Unleashed, had kept Linehan’s identity under wraps on the line up, billing him as a “surprise, famous, cancelled comedian”.
Bosses at the event space said they were previously uninformed about who would feature in the showcase – which describes itself as a “home for free-thinking comedy” and promises a return to “edgy” material.
Linehan is known for his views on gender issues.
Speaking to TalkTV’s Julia Hartley-Brewer on Wednesday morning, Linehan said: “It was cancelled within a couple of hours. So I had two hours of excitement and fans saying they were going to go.
“It was a sell-out. But you do get used to this kind of thing after a while.
“It never really makes you feel good.
“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.”
Leith Arches posted the 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.”
It comes just days after SNP MP Joanna Cherry’s festival show at The Stand comedy club in the capital went ahead after the politician threatened legal action against the venue when it initially pulled the plug on the performance in May.
Linehan has been heavily criticised for his remarks on gender issues and had his Twitter account suspended in 2020 after thousands of complaints.
He began his stand-up career in February in East London and was due to make his Fringe debut on the mixed bill.
But in a statement published on social media, the venue said it would “not allow [Linehan] to violate our space”.
“We do not support this comedian, or his views, and he will not be allowed to perform at our venue and is cancelled from Thursday’s performance with immediate effect,” they added.
“An outside organiser was responsible for the line up and we were unaware as to who was performing until now.
“We are an inclusive venue and will not allow such views to violate our space.”
Last summer The Pleasance cancelled comic Jerry Sadowitz’s show after complaints from staff and walkouts by some of the audience.
A spokesperson for Leith Arches said: “We are a very small independent business. We work very closely with the LGBT+ community, It is a considerable part of our business, we believe hosting this one-off event would have a negative effect on future bookings.
“The decision is not influenced by online activists, but by our regular community who use our venue on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
“We are not against freedom of speech, The show is not a good fit for our venue.”