Graham Linehan

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Graham Linehan
Graham Linehan 2013 (8735745502).jpg
Linehan in 2013
Born (1968-05-22) 22 May 1968 (age 50)
Dublin, Ireland
Medium Television, film
Nationality Irish
Years active 1991–present
Genres Observational comedy, surreal humour
Spouse Helen Serafinowicz
Children 2
Notable works and roles Father Ted, The IT Crowd, Black Books, The Walshes

Graham Linehan (/ˈlɪnəhən/; born 22 May 1968) is an Irish television comedy writer and director who, often in partnership with Arthur Mathews, has written or co-written a string of successful television comedies. He is best known for creating or co-creating the sitcoms Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd and the first series of Big Train.

Amongst other projects, he has also written for Count Arthur Strong, Brass Eye and The Fast Show.

Personal life[edit]

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.[1] 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.[2][3][4] 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 jail sentence.[5]

Linehan is an atheist[6] and in January 2009 helped to publicise the Atheist Bus Campaign.[7]

Linehan announced in June 2018 that he was a survivor of testicular cancer.[8]


Linehan and Mathews first met while working at Hot Press.[9] 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[10] (one series, 1994) and Father Ted (three series, 1995–1998).[11][12][13] They then wrote the first series of the sketch show Big Train, but Linehan was not involved in the second series.[14]

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.[15]

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.[16][17] In November 2008, he was awarded an International Emmy for The IT Crowd.[18] In 2013, he wrote and directed The Walshes. As of 2017 he is currently co-authoring and directing the BBC sitcom Motherland. He and Matthews are working on a Father Ted musical.[14]


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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[19] 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".[20]

Other work[edit]

On Friday 13 February 2009, Linehan hosted the first BadMovieClub[21] 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 healthcare system there, Linehan created the #welovetheNHS campaign on Twitter in an attempt to fight back in defence of the NHS.[22][23]

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 plans to write a sequel episode, and has sent versions of the story to the production team.[24]

Social Media[edit]

Linehan is an active Twitter user.[4] In 2011 he perpetrated a twitter hoax around Osama Bin Laden being a fan of The IT Crowd.[25]

Linehan's tweets on the issue of transgender people have led to him receiving accusations of being transphobic and a TERF.[26]


TV 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[edit]

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. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (22 June 2013). "Graham Linehan: 'I've come to hate the church'". The Independent. Retrieved 21 October 2014. 
  2. ^ 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. 
  3. ^ Edemariam, Aida (11 June 2011). "The Saturday Interview: Graham Linehan". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 July 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Kelly, Guy (16 January 2015). "Graham Linehan interview: 'On the streets, Twitter trolls would be considered sociopaths'". The Telegraph. 
  5. ^ "How heartbreak led Helen and Graham Linehan to campaign for abortion in Ireland". The Guardian. 19 October 2015. 
  6. ^ "A bad day for atheism". 18 September 2008. 
  7. ^ "Launch of the Atheist Bus Campaign". The Guardian. 6 January 2009. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "Paris". British Comedy Guide. 
  11. ^ Mary Cummins (4 April 1996). "Daftness should be mandatory in Irish politics". Irish Times. 
  12. ^ Deirdre Falvey (5 May 1998). "Life after Ted". Irish Times. 
  13. ^ "Aran Islands in Father Ted row". RTÉ. 21 January 2007. 
  14. ^ a b "Big Train at 20 - interview with Arthur Matthews". The Digital Fix. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 13 August 2018. 
  15. ^ "The A-Z of laughter (part two)". The Observer. 7 December 2003. 
  16. ^ "The IT Crowd Interviews". British Comedy Guide. 2006. 
  17. ^ "Brian Boyd: Have You Tried Turning It Off and On Again?". Irish Times. 21 January 2006. 
  18. ^ Shane Hegarty (26 November 2008). "Linehan wins an Emmy for sitcom on the IT set". Irish Times. 
  19. ^ "Radio 4's Today programme 'poisons' debate, claims Father Ted writer". Daily Mail. 8 June 2011. 
  20. ^ Linehan, Graham (8 June 2011). "Graham Linehan: My Today programme ambush". The Guardian. 
  21. ^ "BadMovieClub website". Retrieved 20 August 2009. 
  22. ^ "Linehan attacks American 'lies' over NHS". Channel 4. 14 August 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  23. ^ Jacobson, Seth (12 August 2009). "How Father Ted creator Graham Linehan sparked NHS backlash on Twitter". The First Post. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 
  24. ^ Ward, Pendleton (Series creator). 2014. "Goliad" [Commentary track], Adventure Time Season Four [DVD], Los Angeles, CA: Cartoon Network.
  25. ^ "Bin Laden and The IT Crowd: Anatomy of a Twitter hoax". The Guardian. 23 May 2011. 
  26. ^ McCabe, Stephen (15 June 2018). "Irish LGBT+ Community Calls Out Graham Linehan On His Faux Wokeness". GCN. Retrieved 24 August 2018. 

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