Graham Linehan

Irish comedy writer (born 1968)

Graham Linehan (born May 22, 1968) is an Irish comedy writer and anti-transgender activist.

It is the height of male privilege to intrude into women's spaces and expect women to just love it.


  • This is another reason why I can't bear lazy writers. The idea that the first thing out of your pen, everyone has to kiss its arse, is ludicrous. Writing is rewriting, and writers who don't rewrite are a liability.
  • Remembering my dad and me creased up in front of Fawlty Towers put my mind at rest. It can be a grand calling to give people something else to look at when they can't see eye to eye.
  • In poker, you don't push your bad hands; in comedy, if an audience doesn't go for something, you don't moan about it, you simply adjust and move on. There's a million ways in the edit to minimise the damage done by a joke that doesn't land. For instance, you can cut it tightly so it no longer looks like it was meant to be a joke at all.
  • You can survive losing the odd joke if you write enough of them. Most of the time, the compromises that I have to endure when I'm making things is balanced out by the magic that the actors bring to it.
  • It took me forever to realise, but read-throughs are always terrible. If I could go back and tell my younger self a single thing, it would be that: read-throughs are always terrible.
  • Think of your story as a bonsai tree hidden somewhere in the chaos of an overgrown yard. With the micro-scale of a bonsai tree, the imperfections are clear, and you can set about them with those clippers that make a tidy snip. But those clippers arrive at the end of the process. The tools you need for the overgrown yard are a machete and a skip.
  • The Hot Take is basically just, 'You believe this widely accepted thing? Well, I believe the opposite, and here's why.' It is a rhetorical manoeuvre that could only have sprung up in an attention economy, where the spiciest opinions drive the greatest numbers to your account.


  • I don't think the vast majority of trans women pose any danger to women but you do have to think about the men who do, you know. There are predatory men out there. There are intact men, who I don't believe are actually trans, who are taking advantage of this situation.
  • Trans rights are human rights, but males have a physical advantage over women, and it would be unfair to allow them to compete in women’s sport. Everyone knows this is true. Anyone who pretends they don’t is either a desperate liar like Father Ted, or a brainless simpleton like Father Dougal.
    • Freedom of Speech in Comedy, St Peter's College, Oxford (20 November 2019)


  • You don't tell children that they were born in the wrong body because they're children and they will believe you... There are reports from the Tavistock that children as young as four were brought in. Children are still believing in Santa when they're ten, you know. It's ridiculous. It's absurd.
    • BBC Newsnight (11 February 2020)
  • Trans activists threaten the feminists I support with rape and death threats, OK? So the idea that there's an equivalence between these two... I am absolutely happy to step out of this conversation completely once women like Kathleen Stock and Jane Clare Jones are allowed to speak.
    • BBC Newsnight (11 February 2020)
  • Why do you think we've had sex segregation over the last hundred years? For a laugh? It is the height of male privilege to intrude into women's spaces and expect women to just love it.
  • Almost four years ago I saw that feminists were being bullied, harassed and silenced for standing up for their rights and their children's rights. I decided to use my platform on Twitter to bring attention to what seemed to be an all-out assault on women, on their words, their dignity and their safety. Also, I saw that vulnerable children were being fast-tracked onto a medical pathway that carried severe long-term implications. My position is very simple. I believe everyone should be allowed to talk about these issues. In fact, I believe it is a moral imperative that we do so.
    • House of Lords statement (9 March 2021)

Quotes about Linehan

In chronological rather than alphabetical sequence.
  • There's a new sitcom coming on Channel 4 called Father Ted, and the writers are two insane geniuses called Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, and I suppose because of my previous clerical experience they decided I might make a suitable priest.
  • He's one of the top people in the comedy world of television at the moment. Someone whose opinion I trust and taste I trust.
  • I'd like a bit of a laugh, actually, if I've got the Bible and Shakespeare, so I'd like the complete works of Graham Linehan, who wrote Father Ted, Black Books, The IT Crowd... all his writing. I'm just a proper fan.
  • We all know him as maybe the greatest Irish television writer of any memory at all. This guy is, quite simply, a legend.
  • Graham and I have clashed in the past, [...] and we probably aren't each other's favourite people. But I think it's fair to say he's genuinely committed to fighting what he believes is a woman-harming and child-harming ideology (and I agree with him on that); and he talks to some demographics — particularly ordinary blokes, who don't really care so much about niceties of language and aren't put off by his sometimes bludgeoning style — that others don't necessarily reach.