Graham Linehan

Graham Linehan (/ˈlɪnəhæn/, born 22 May 1968) is an Irish comedian who, in collaboration with Arthur Mathews, has written or co-written a string of television comedies. He created or co-created the sitcoms Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd.

Graham Linehan
Linehan in 2013
Born (1968-05-22) 22 May 1968[1]
Dublin, Ireland
MediumTelevision, film, twitter
Years active1991–present
GenresObservational comedy, surreal humour
SpouseHelen Serafinowicz
Notable works and rolesFather Ted, The IT Crowd

He has also written for Count Arthur Strong, Brass Eye and The Fast Show.

Personal life

Linehan attended Plunkett's School in Whitehall, followed by Catholic University School, a Roman Catholic secondary school for boys located on the southside of central Dublin, before joining Hot Press.[2] He also had a column with the magazine In Dublin before moving to London.

Linehan is married to writer Helen Serafinowicz who is the sister of Peter Serafinowicz; the couple have two children.[3][4][5] 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.[6]

Linehan is an atheist[7] and in January 2009 helped to publicise the Atheist Bus Campaign.[8] He is also an honorary associate of the National Secular Society.[9]

Linehan announced in June 2018 that he was a survivor of testicular cancer.[10]

Linehan is an active Twitter user.[5] In 2011 he perpetrated a Twitter hoax around Osama Bin Laden being a fan of The IT Crowd.[11] On Friday 13 February 2009, Linehan hosted the first BadMovieClub[12] 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, creating a collective viewing experience which generated 40,000 tweets in under 2 hours. The BadMovieClub was repeated at 12 midnight on Saturday 14 February, hosted by Phill Jupitus. In August 2009, when the National Health Service was being attacked by the Republican Party of the United States 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 in defence of the NHS.[13][14]


Linehan and Mathews first met while working at Hot Press.[15] In their early collaborations, they were responsible for segments in many 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 (the characters were created by Linehan and Mathews and played by Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson). The two continued their collaboration with Paris[16] (one series, 1994) and Father Ted (three series, 1995–1998).[17][18][19] They then wrote the first series of the sketch show Big Train, but Linehan was not involved in the second series.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22][23] In November 2008, he was awarded an International Emmy for The IT Crowd.[24] In 2013, he wrote and directed The Walshes. He co-wrote the first series of the BBC sitcom Motherland and directed its pilot episode.[25] In 2018 he and Matthews announced plans for a Father Ted musical.[20]


Linehan and Mathews have had one book published, Father Ted: The Complete Scripts (Paperback – Boxtree – 20 October 2000) ISBN 0-7522-7235-7. They have contributed to various magazines and written surreal liner notes for the popular Volume series of alternative music compilations.

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".[26]

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.[27] This episode was never made as Adventure Time ended in 2018.

Anti-transgender activism

Linehan has tweeted extensively about transgender issues, which he became involved with following criticism of an episode of The IT Crowd he had written in which a character unknowingly dates a trans woman.[28] Linehan has described himself as being sceptical of the self-identification of gender, objecting to "privileged white people saying you must accept anyone who says they are a woman". He has said that "anyone suffering from gender dysphoria needs to be helped and supported", and has voiced concern over early transgender intervention for children.[28]

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 that she was a criminal, and repeatedly misgendered her and deadnamed her by using her previous name.[29][30] Linehan in turn alleged that Hayden publicised several private addresses linked to his family to silence him.[31] Linehan was issued with a verbal warning by police not to contact Hayden.[32]

Linehan has compared transgender activism to Nazi Germany, 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 "provid[ing] cover" for "fetishists, con-men, and simply abusive misogynists".[33][34][35][36] 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".[37] Linehan described the anti-transgender lesbian protesters at the 2018 London Pride event as "heroes".[38][39]

In January 2019, Linehan expressed concern over the news that Mermaids UK, 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 their decision.[40][41] The grant was reviewed,[40] and ultimately awarded to the Mermaids charity.[42] Linehan's comments and online campaigning also led to YouTuber and gamer Hbomberguy conducting a 57-hour fundraising livestream which raised a further £270,000 for Mermaids UK.[43][44]


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

Awards and nominations

YearNominated forAwardCategoryResult
1996Father TedBAFTAsBest Comedy (Programme or Series)Won
1996Father TedWriters' Guild of Great BritainTV – Situation ComedyWon
1997Father TedBAFTAsBest Comedy (Programme or Series)Nominated
1997Harry Enfield and ChumsWriters' Guild of Great BritainTV – Light EntertainmentWon
1999Big TrainBAFTAsBest Light Entertainment (Programme or Series)Nominated
1999Father TedBAFTAsBest Comedy (Programme or Series)Won
2001Black BooksBAFTAsSituation Comedy AwardWon
2007The IT CrowdBAFTAsBest Situation ComedyNominated
2008The IT CrowdBAFTAsBest Situation ComedyNominated
2009The IT CrowdBAFTAsBest Situation ComedyWon
2009The IT CrowdIFTAsBest Script for TelevisionWon
2014The IT CrowdBAFTAs Television CraftWriter ComedyWon
2014Count Arthur StrongBAFTAs Television CraftWriter ComedyNominated


  1. @Glinner (22 May 2012). "Anyway, bed. Thanks for the conversation. And the birthday wishes! Yay! 44! Not long now!" (Tweet). Retrieved 15 February 2019 via Twitter.
  2. Gilbert, Gerard (22 June 2013). "Graham Linehan: 'I've come to hate the church'". The Independent. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
  3. Jones, Alice (30 May 2015). "Inside the comic world of Peter Serafinowicz: The spoof video master is heading to Hollywood". The Independent. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  4. Edemariam, Aida (11 June 2011). "The Saturday Interview: Graham Linehan". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2015.
  5. Kelly, Guy (16 January 2015). "Graham Linehan interview: 'On the streets, Twitter trolls would be considered sociopaths'". The Telegraph.
  6. "How heartbreak led Helen and Graham Linehan to campaign for abortion in Ireland". The Guardian. 19 October 2015.
  7. "A bad day for atheism". 18 September 2008.
  8. "Launch of the Atheist Bus Campaign". The Guardian. 6 January 2009.
  9. "Honorary Associates". Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  10. Jarlath Regan (3 July 2018). "Graham Linehan on his cancer journey and Father Ted - The Musical: Episode 251". An Irishman Abroad (Podcast) (251 ed.). Retrieved 4 July 2018 via SoundCloud.
  11. "Bin Laden and The IT Crowd: Anatomy of a Twitter hoax". The Guardian. 23 May 2011.
  12. "BadMovieClub website". Retrieved 20 August 2009.
  13. "Linehan attacks American 'lies' over NHS". Channel 4. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  14. Jacobson, Seth (12 August 2009). "How Father Ted creator Graham Linehan sparked NHS backlash on Twitter". The First Post. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  15. 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. Retrieved 22 June 2012.
  16. "Paris". British Comedy Guide.
  17. Mary Cummins (4 April 1996). "Daftness should be mandatory in Irish politics". Irish Times.
  18. Deirdre Falvey (5 May 1998). "Life after Ted". Irish Times.
  19. "Aran Islands in Father Ted row". RTÉ. 21 January 2007.
  20. "Big Train at 20 - interview with Arthur Matthews". The Digital Fix. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  21. "The A-Z of laughter (part two)". The Observer. 7 December 2003.
  22. "The IT Crowd Interviews". British Comedy Guide. 2006.
  23. "Brian Boyd: Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again?". Irish Times. 21 January 2006.
  24. Shane Hegarty (26 November 2008). "Linehan wins an Emmy for sitcom on the IT set". Irish Times.
  25. Dowell, Ben. "BBC orders a full series of middle-class mum sitcom Motherland". Radio Times. Retrieved 15 October 2019.
  26. Linehan, Graham (8 June 2011). "Graham Linehan: My Today programme ambush". The Guardian.
  27. Ward, Pendleton (Series creator). 2014. "Goliad" [Commentary track], Adventure Time Season Four [DVD], Los Angeles, CA: Cartoon Network.
  28. Falvey, Deirdre (21 January 2019). "Graham Linehan: Trans activists 'don't realise the damage' they do". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
  29. Lyons, Izzy (7 October 2018). "Transgender lawyer launches UK's first 'deadnaming' case against Father Ted writer Graham Linehan". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  30. Coyle, Colin (7 October 2018). "Father Ted writer Graham Linehan warned by police after 'trolling' transgender activist". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  31. Halliday, Josh (7 October 2018). "Graham Linehan given police warning after complaint by transgender activist". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  32. "Father Ted writer given harassment warning". 7 October 2018. Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  33. 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.
  34. "Father Ted writer Graham Linehan compares the trans movement to Nazism". iNews. Retrieved 6 October 2019.
  36. "Father Ted writer Graham Linehan compares trans activism to Nazism". PinkNews. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  37. "Father Ted writer Graham Linehan compares the trans movement to Nazism". iNews. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  38. @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.
  39. "Mara Wilson star of 'Matilda' hits out at Graham Linehan trans tweets". PinkNews. 24 August 2018. Retrieved 8 October 2018.
  40. "David Davies 'welcomes' Big Lottery Fund's 'review' of grant to transgender charity". Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  41. "Statement: Outcome of our review into Mermaids UK grant | The National Lottery Community Fund". Retrieved 19 February 2019.
  42. "Trans kids charity Mermaids awarded National Lottery grant following review · PinkNews". Retrieved 2 June 2019.
  43. Asarch, Steven (20 January 2019). "Twitch stream pulls in $250,000 for Mermaids charity featuring Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Owen Jones and more". Newsweek. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  44. "Gamer Hbomberguy hands funding row charity Donkey Kong boost". BBC News. 22 January 2019. Retrieved 23 January 2019.
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