Page semi-protected

Graham Linehan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Graham Linehan
Graham Linehan - 2013 (8735745502) (cropped).jpg
Linehan in 2013
BornDublin, Ireland
Years active1991–present
GenresObservational comedy, surreal humour
Helen Serafinowicz
(m. 2004; sep. 2020)
Notable works and rolesFather Ted, The IT Crowd

Graham Linehan (/ˈlɪnəhæn/) is an Irish television writer and anti-transgender activist. He created or co-created the sitcoms Father Ted (1995–1998), Black Books (2000–2004) and The IT Crowd (2006–2013). He has also written for Count Arthur Strong, Brass Eye and The Fast Show.

After an episode of The IT Crowd was criticised as transphobic, Linehan became involved in anti-transgender activism. He argues that transgender activism endangers women, and he has likened the use of puberty blockers to Nazi eugenics programmes. In 2020, he was suspended from the social network Twitter for "repeated violations" of the rules. Linehan said his views had lost him work and disrupted his marriage.

Early life

Linehan attended Plunkett's School in Whitehall, on Dublin's northside, followed by Catholic University School, a Roman Catholic secondary school for boys also in Dublin, before joining Hot Press.[3] He also had a column with the magazine In Dublin before moving to London.[citation needed]


Linehan and Arthur Mathews met while working at Hot Press.[4] In their early collaborations, they were responsible for segments in sketch shows including Alas Smith and Jones, Harry Enfield and Chums, The All New Alexei Sayle Show, The Day Today and the Ted and Ralph characters in The Fast Show. They continued their collaboration with Paris[5] (one series, 1994), Father Ted (three series, 1995–1998),[6][7][8] and the first series of the sketch show Big Train.[9]

They also wrote the "Dearth of A Salesman" episode for the series Coogan's Run, which featured the character Gareth Cheeseman. In late 2003, they were named one of the 50 funniest acts to work in television by The Observer.[10]

Graham Linehan with Jon Ronson at TAM London 2010

Linehan has since written for other shows, including Brass Eye. With Dylan Moran, he co-wrote the first series of Black Books, a series to which Mathews also contributed. Linehan has also contributed material to Blue Jam, and its television adaptation Jam.

Linehan wrote and directed the 2006 Channel 4 sitcom The IT Crowd, in which he sought to move away from the recent British trend towards mock-documentary comedies. Unlike many series of the time, it was recorded before a studio audience.[11][12] In November 2008, he was awarded an International Emmy for The IT Crowd.[13] In 2013, he wrote and directed The Walshes. He co-wrote the first series of the BBC sitcom Motherland and directed its pilot episode.[14]

In 2018, he and Mathews announced plans for a Father Ted musical.[9] In 2021, Linehan said he was still developing the musical, and that it would finish the series as they had planned it before the death of lead actor Dermot Morgan.[15]

Television appearances

Both Linehan and Mathews have made cameo appearances in programmes they have written. They also made an appearance in the sitcom I'm Alan Partridge as two Irish TV producers considering Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) for a contract.

Linehan has also appeared in The Day Today and in two episodes of Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, and has had cameos in Black Books (series one, episode two, as "I love books" Guy, and series one, episode five as Fast Food Customer), and the Father Ted episodes "Good Luck Father Ted", "Entertaining Father Stone", "Flight Into Terror", "Cigarettes, Alcohol and Rollerblading" and "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep". He had cameos in four episodes of The IT Crowd: as Messy Joe's Restaurant Musician, in series one, episode three; the blind sorcerer, in series two, Episode six; as an audience member of Jen's speech, in series three, episode four; and as Beth Gaga Shaggy, in series four, episode three. He appeared in the Identity Parade round of Never Mind the Buzzcocks. He has also appeared in the pilot of Little Britain, as well as in series one, episode four, as a bystander who gets in the way of character Kenny Craig when he is attempting to hypnotise, from a distance, a man whose car he has crashed into. He also appeared in series one, episode five, in which he played a journalist called Roy Sloan (from Whizzer and Chips) during a conference with Prime Minister Michael Stevens (Anthony Head). Linehan was one of the writers interviewed by Charlie Brooker in a special interview episode of the fifth series of Brooker's Screenwipe programme, and again on Brooker's Gameswipe in 2010. Linehan also appeared as a guest panellist on Have I Got News for You in 2011 and again in 2012, and he made his debut as a guest on the BBC show QI in the 11th series (K series) in 2013, receiving a score of −19.

In 2007, a documentary about Linehan, his life and his career was produced by Wildfire Films for RTÉ One. This documentary explored the art, craft and deeply competitive business of creating contemporary television comedy. The programme features interviews with several of the UK's most successful television comedy writers and performers including Steve Coogan, Matt Lucas, David Walliams, Paul Whitehouse, Griff Rhys Jones and Ardal O'Hanlon, all of whom have worked with Linehan. It was directed by Adrian McCarthy and produced by Martha O'Neill and Adam Rynne. In 2011, Linehan also appeared with several members of the cast in Channel 4's Father Ted Night, an evening of the writer's favourite episodes and two retrospective documentaries.

Radio appearances

On 6 June 2011, Linehan appeared on BBC Radio 4's Today programme to discuss his adaptation of the Ealing comedy film The Ladykillers for the West End stage. During this appearance, Linehan took issue with Today presenter Justin Webb over what he saw as the attempted staging of an artificial argument between himself and the critic Michael Billington. He later expanded on this criticism in an article published in The Guardian, saying "I'm talking about that very specific, very artificial, very Today programme format of a presenter acting as referee between two people who have been chosen to represent the opposing sides of a manufactured argument. It is a binary view of politics, of life and, as a result, it is also a dishonest one. Replace it with anything – anything – because anything would be better".[16]

Other work

Linehan's children voiced characters in the 2012 Adventure Time episode "Goliad", with Linehan directing the children while taking the producers' instructions over the phone. Linehan planned to write a sequel episode, and sent versions of the story to the production team.[17] This episode was never made as Adventure Time ended in 2018.

Anti-transgender activism

Linehan has extensively commented on transgender issues. Until his suspension in 2020, he used the social network Twitter to criticise "trans ideology", which he believes misrepresents transgender people and lesbians.[18] He became involved after the airing of a 2008 episode of The IT Crowd, written by Linehan, drew criticism on Twitter for its storyline. The episode features a man who reacts with transphobia after realising that the woman he is dating is transgender.[19] Linehan felt the joke was "harmless" and says he did not understand the "ferocity" of the response,[20] arguing that a transphobic character did not make him or the episode transphobic.[19]

Linehan said he was sceptical of gender self-identification, objecting to "privileged white people saying you must accept anyone who says they are a woman". He said that "anyone suffering from gender dysphoria needs to be helped and supported", but has voiced concern over early transgender intervention for children.[19]

In October 2018, Stephanie Hayden, a transgender woman, sued Linehan for harassment. Hayden alleged that Linehan had shared photos on Twitter of Hayden's family and her life before transition, suggested she was a criminal, and repeatedly misgendered and deadnamed her.[21][22] Linehan in turn alleged that Hayden publicised several private addresses linked to his family to silence him.[23] Police issued Linehan a verbal warning not to contact Hayden.[24]

Linehan has compared the medical transition of children to Nazi experiments on children, saying: "If you were around the time of something terrible happening like Nazism, would you be one of the people who said, 'This is wrong,' despite being opposed?" In the same interview, he described the trans movement as providing "cover" for "fetishists, con-men, and simply abusive misogynists".[25][26][27] In a statement to PinkNews about his comments, Linehan said, "when a magazine purportedly for gay people collaborates in homosexual erasure by indulging the straight fantasy that men can be lesbians, something has gone deeply wrong".[26] In 2018, Linehan praised anti-transgender protesters at that year's London Pride event as "heroes".[28][29][30]

In January 2019, Linehan expressed concern over the news that Mermaids, a charitable advocacy organisation for transgender children and teenagers, was to receive a £500,000 lottery grant to open clinics around the United Kingdom. He posted to blogging website Mumsnet encouraging its users to lobby the National Lottery Community Fund to reverse its decision.[31][32] The grant was reviewed[31] and went ahead.[33] In response to Linehan, YouTuber Hbomberguy held a 57-hour fundraising livestream that raised £270,000 more for Mermaids.[34][35]

In 2019, Linehan was the favourite nominee by viewers to win The Last Leg's "Dick of the Year" award, following the comments he made on social media about transgender people.[36][20] When Linehan expressed interest in winning the award, presenter Adam Hills disqualified him from receiving it, stating that under the rules anyone who wants to be named "Dick of the Year" cannot be.[37]

In a February 2020 interview with the BBC television programme Newsnight, Linehan reiterated his view that the Tavistock Centre's practice of treating children with drugs such as puberty blockers is comparable to Nazi eugenics and experiments on children, and said that transgender activists had made rape and death threats against feminists.[38] Following this interview, Eric Pickles, the UK special envoy for post-Holocaust issues, accused Linehan of trivialising the Holocaust.[39]

In June 2020, Linehan criticised comments made about J. K. Rowling after she made comments that were called transphobic. He linked to a blog post featuring screenshots of abuse Rowling had received, describing those who wrote them as "ignoring the abuse received by women who speak out against gender ideology" and "literally useless".[40] Hozier, tagged in Linehan's tweets due to his trans-rights advocacy, responded by saying Linehan was conducting an "obsessive little culture war".[40]

On 27 June 2020, Linehan's Twitter account was permanently suspended following what Twitter called "repeated violations of our rules against hateful conduct and platform manipulation".[18] In December 2020, Linehan evaded the suspension with an account posing as a trans man, which he used to call Colm O'Gorman "a traitor to women, gay people and yourself" for signing an open letter published by the Transgender Equality Network of Ireland;[41] the account was banned but Linehan claimed to have created another.[42]

In February 2021, Linehan created a fake account on the lesbian dating app Her and publicly posted screenshots of non-binary people and trans women using the app. Her clarified that transgender women are welcome on the app.[43]

In March 2021, Linehan gave oral evidence to the Communications and Digital Committee of the House of Lords on the subject "Freedom of expression online", during which he said he had used his platform on Twitter to bring attention to what he described as "an all-out assault on women, on their words, their dignity and their safety".[44] In an interview in the Irish Independent that month, Linehan said his activism had cost him work; he refused to work with Channel 4 as they would not return the controversial IT Crowd episode to broadcast, and he refused to work with the BBC as they had depicted a transgender lesbian couple, which Linehan described as "a heterosexual couple", in a CBeebies video.[15]

Personal life

Linehan was married to writer Helen Serafinowicz, the sister of actor Peter Serafinowicz; the couple have two children.[45][46][47] In October 2015, Graham and Helen Linehan worked with Amnesty International on a campaign film calling on the Irish government to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right". The couple revealed their decision for Helen to abort a foetus with acrania while living in England in 2004, and their discovery that undergoing the procedure in Ireland would have been an offence carrying a maximum 14-year prison sentence.[48] In 2021, Linehan said that he and Serafinowicz had separated following financial problems caused by his activism against the transgender community.[49][15]

Linehan is an atheist[50] and in January 2009 helped to publicise the Atheist Bus Campaign.[51] He is also an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.[52] Linehan announced in June 2018 that he is a survivor of testicular cancer.[53]

Prior to his suspension in 2020, Linehan was an active Twitter user, calling it "part of his nervous system".[47] In 2011, he perpetrated a Twitter hoax that Osama Bin Laden was a fan of The IT Crowd.[54] On 13 February 2009, Linehan hosted the first BadMovieClub[55] on Twitter. At 9pm exactly, over 2,000 Twitter users simultaneously pressed 'Play' on the film The Happening (dir. M. Night Shyamalan 2008) and continued to tweet whilst watching, a collective viewing experience that generated 40,000 tweets in under 2 hours. The BadMovieClub was repeated the next day at midnight, hosted by Phill Jupitus. In August 2009, when the National Health Service was being attacked by the U.S. Republican Party during an attempt by President Barack Obama to reform the American healthcare system, Linehan created the #welovetheNHS campaign on Twitter in an attempt to fight back.[56][57]


Television director

Linehan was also an executive producer of the first series of The IT Crowd, and an associate producer of one episode of Father Ted.

Film director

Film writer

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated for Award Category Result
1996 Father Ted BAFTAs Best Comedy (Programme or Series) Won
1996 Father Ted Writers' Guild of Great Britain TV – Situation Comedy Won
1997 Father Ted BAFTAs Best Comedy (Programme or Series) Nominated
1997 Harry Enfield and Chums Writers' Guild of Great Britain TV – Light Entertainment Won
1999 Big Train BAFTAs Best Light Entertainment (Programme or Series) Nominated
1999 Father Ted BAFTAs Best Comedy (Programme or Series) Won
2001 Black Books BAFTAs Situation Comedy Award Won
2007 The IT Crowd BAFTAs Best Situation Comedy Nominated
2008 The IT Crowd BAFTAs Best Situation Comedy Nominated
2009 The IT Crowd BAFTAs Best Situation Comedy Won
2009 The IT Crowd IFTAs Best Script for Television Won
2014 The IT Crowd BAFTAs Television Craft Writer Comedy Won
2014 Count Arthur Strong BAFTAs Television Craft Writer Comedy Nominated


  1. ^ "Graham Linehan whines about his Twitter ban to House of Lords".
  2. ^ "The mother of all comedies".
  3. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (22 June 2013). "Graham Linehan: 'I've come to hate the church'". The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  4. ^ Thompson, Ben (2010). Sunshine on Putty: The Golden Age of British Comedy from Vic Reeves to The Office (eBook). Harper Collins. p. 289. ISBN 9780007375530. Archived from the original on 20 February 2021. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Paris". British Comedy Guide. Archived from the original on 17 March 2013. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  6. ^ Mary Cummins (4 April 1996). "Daftness should be mandatory in Irish politics". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  7. ^ Deirdre Falvey (5 May 1998). "Life after Ted". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  8. ^ "Aran Islands in Father Ted row". RTÉ. 21 January 2007. Archived from the original on 16 October 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  9. ^ a b "Big Train at 20 - interview with Arthur Matthews". The Digital Fix. 23 July 2018. Archived from the original on 2 August 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  10. ^ "The A-Z of laughter (part two)". The Observer. 7 December 2003. Archived from the original on 2 May 2019. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  11. ^ "The IT Crowd Interviews". British Comedy Guide. 2006. Archived from the original on 2 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Brian Boyd: Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again?". Irish Times. 21 January 2006. Archived from the original on 12 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  13. ^ Shane Hegarty (26 November 2008). "Linehan wins an Emmy for sitcom on the IT set". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 20 May 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2008.
  14. ^ Dowell, Ben. "BBC orders a full series of middle-class mum sitcom Motherland". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 15 October 2019. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  15. ^ a b c "Graham Linehan: how my transgender views cost me my marriage". Irish Independent. Retrieved 14 March 2021.
  16. ^ Linehan, Graham (8 June 2011). "Graham Linehan: My Today programme ambush". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  17. ^ Ward, Pendleton (Series creator). 2014. "Goliad" [Commentary track], Adventure Time Season Four [DVD], Los Angeles, CA: Cartoon Network.
  18. ^ a b Blackall, Molly (27 June 2020). "Twitter closes Graham Linehan account after trans comment". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 27 June 2020. Retrieved 27 June 2020.
  19. ^ a b c Falvey, Deirdre (21 January 2019). "Graham Linehan: Trans activists 'don't realise the damage' they do". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 24 January 2019. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  20. ^ a b Haugh, Ben (18 December 2019). "Father Ted creator Linehan creates own social network to defy Twitter after transgender row". The Times. Archived from the original on 26 December 2019. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  21. ^ Lyons, Izzy (7 October 2018). "Transgender lawyer launches UK's first 'deadnaming' case against Father Ted writer Graham Linehan". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 June 2019. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  22. ^ Coyle, Colin (7 October 2018). "Father Ted writer Graham Linehan warned by police after 'trolling' transgender activist". The Sunday Times. London. Archived from the original on 7 October 2018. Retrieved 7 October 2018.(subscription required)
  23. ^ Halliday, Josh (7 October 2018). "Graham Linehan given police warning after complaint by transgender activist". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 15 February 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Father Ted writer given harassment warning". 7 October 2018. Archived from the original on 30 May 2019. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  25. ^ Derrick Jensen and Graham Linehan (9 December 2018). Resistance Radio - Guest: Graham Linehan (Podcast). Podbean. The opposition is so extreme and so frightening that eventually everyone is asking you to stop. ‘My feeling is that I can’t, because it’s too important. It’s too important to the women in my life and it’s too important to me. ‘I’m now in a position where I can now answer the question honestly of, if you were around the time of something terrible happening like Nazism, or whatever it happened to be, would you be one of the people who said, “No, this is wrong”, despite being opposed? I feel happy in myself that I’ve been one of the people standing up and saying “no, this is wrong”, despite everybody telling me not to do it.
  26. ^ a b "Father Ted writer Graham Linehan compares the trans movement to Nazism". iNews. Archived from the original on 6 October 2019. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  27. ^ "GRAHAM LINEHAN UNDER FIRE FOR COMPARING TRANS ACTIVISM TO NAZISM". Attitude. Archived from the original on 6 October 2019. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  28. ^ @glinner (23 August 2018). "Those women who disrupted Pride in London and New Zealand are fucking heroes. This is a land grab and standing up to it took real guts. If you can't be as brave as them, then just find a way to support them or at least hear them out" (Tweet). Archived from the original on 6 October 2019 – via Twitter.
  29. ^ Gabbatiss, Josh (7 July 2018). "London Pride: Anti-trans activists disrupt parade by lying down in the street to protest 'lesbian erasure'". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 13 June 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  30. ^ Murphy, Sandra (22 January 2019). "How Graham Linehan went from national treasure to divisive figure for trans community". Archived from the original on 6 June 2020. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  31. ^ a b "David Davies 'welcomes' Big Lottery Fund's 'review' of grant to transgender charity". Archived from the original on 2 June 2019. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  32. ^ "Statement: Outcome of our review into Mermaids UK grant | The National Lottery Community Fund". Archived from the original on 19 February 2019. Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  33. ^ "Statement: Outcome of our review into Mermaids UK grant". The National Lottery Community Fund. Retrieved 29 June 2021.
  34. ^ Asarch, Steven (20 January 2019). "Twitch stream pulls in $250,000 for Mermaids charity featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Owen Jones and more". Newsweek. Archived from the original on 21 January 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  35. ^ "Gamer Hbomberguy hands funding row charity Donkey Kong boost". BBC News. 22 January 2019. Archived from the original on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
  36. ^ Kenny, Oisin (12 December 2019). "Graham Linehan is front runner to win D*ck of the Year Award". Gay Community News. Archived from the original on 17 February 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  37. ^ "News: The Last Leg Reveals Its Dick of the Year Nominees Explaining Why They Are Leaving One Name Out". Beyond The Joke. 14 December 2019. Archived from the original on 14 April 2020. Retrieved 29 February 2020.
  38. ^ "Father Ted creator Graham Linehan on trans rights". BBC Newsnight. Archived from the original on 4 July 2020. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  39. ^ "The UK's Holocaust memorial boss condemns Graham Linehan for comparing trans healthcare to Nazi experiments". MSN. 14 February 2020. Archived from the original on 14 February 2020. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  40. ^ a b "Hozier and Father Ted creator Graham Linehan join Twitter row over JK Rowling comments". Irish Independent. Dublin. 10 June 2020. Archived from the original on 21 June 2020. Retrieved 20 June 2020.
  41. ^ Wakefield, Lily (1 December 2020). "Disgraced comedy writer Graham Linehan, booted from Twitter for hateful conduct, returns with fake 'trans guy' account". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 1 December 2020. Retrieved 2 December 2020.
  42. ^ Wakefield, Lily (3 December 2020). "Disgraced comedy writer Graham Linehan boasts he's back on Twitter with a 'new sim card' after being kicked off for a second time". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 7 December 2020. Retrieved 6 December 2020.
  43. ^ Kelleher, Patrick (21 February 2021). "Graham Linehan joined a queer women's dating app to share trans people's profiles. It backfired, badly". PinkNews. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  44. ^ "Subject: Freedom of expression online". Communications and Digital Committee. 9 March 2021. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  45. ^ Jones, Alice (30 May 2015). "Inside the comic world of Peter Serafinowicz: The spoof video master is heading to Hollywood". The Independent. Archived from the original on 22 July 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  46. ^ Edemariam, Aida (11 June 2011). "The Saturday Interview: Graham Linehan". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  47. ^ a b Kelly, Guy (16 January 2015). "Graham Linehan interview: 'On the streets, Twitter trolls would be considered sociopaths'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 21 March 2018. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  48. ^ Gentleman, Amelia (19 October 2015). "How heartbreak led Helen and Graham Linehan to campaign for abortion in Ireland". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 11 January 2017. Retrieved 11 December 2016.
  49. ^ "TV writer Graham Linehan: How my transgender views cost me my marriage". Belfast Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 15 May 2021.
  50. ^ "A bad day for atheism". 18 September 2008. Archived from the original on 20 February 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  51. ^ "Launch of the Atheist Bus Campaign". The Guardian. 6 January 2009. Archived from the original on 12 March 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2017.
  52. ^ "Honorary Associates". Archived from the original on 2 August 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  53. ^ Jarlath Regan (3 July 2018). "Graham Linehan on his cancer journey and Father Ted - The Musical: Episode 251". An Irishman Abroad (Podcast) (251 ed.). Archived from the original on 5 May 2019. Retrieved 4 July 2018 – via SoundCloud.
  54. ^ "Bin Laden and The IT Crowd: Anatomy of a Twitter hoax". The Guardian. 23 May 2011. Archived from the original on 17 July 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2018.
  55. ^ "BadMovieClub website". Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  56. ^ "Linehan attacks American 'lies' over NHS". Channel 4. 14 August 2009. Archived from the original on 21 October 2012. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  57. ^ Jacobson, Seth (12 August 2009). "How Father Ted creator Graham Linehan sparked NHS backlash on Twitter". The First Post. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  58. ^ "Never Mind The Horrocks". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 15 September 2021.
  59. ^ McCarthy, Todd (29 September 1997). "The Matchmaker". Variety. Retrieved 15 September 2021.

External links