Richard Ayoade criticised for supporting Graham Linehan and ‘brilliance’ of new book

Composite image of comedian Richard Ayoade and writer and anti-trans campaigner Graham Linehan

Comedian Richard Ayoade has been criticised for praising a new book by anti-trans campaigner Graham Linehan.

Ayoade, who starred in Linehan’s The IT Crowd, reviewed Tough Crowd: How I Made and Lost a Career in Comedy, which reportedly serves as “part diary of a gender wars cancellation”. 

The book will detail the author’s so-called cancellation after he “championed an unfashionable cause”, with Linehan vowing not be stopping his anti-trans activism “any time soon”.

Reviewing the book, Ayoade wrote: “Graham Linehan has long been one of my favourite writers, and this book shows that his brilliance in prose is the equal to his brilliance as a screenwriter. It unfolds with the urgency of a Sam[uel] Fuller film: that of a man who has been through something that few have experienced but has managed to return, undaunted, to tell the tale.”

As well as several X, formerly Twitter, users supporting both Linehan and Ayoade, some LGBTQ+ fans have criticised the latter for providing a glowing review.

One user claimed: “Unlike with certain other transphobic and homophobic public figures, it’s very difficult to imagine that Richard Ayoade was not aware of ‘Glinner’s’ extreme bigotry or the relentless abusive behaviour he has been involved in over the [past] few years.”

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Another user, who claimed to be “one of the targets of Linehan’s online campaign… targeting trans people”, said: “I would very much like to know how Richard Ayoade feels comfortable endorsing Linehan’s new book.”

She added that after Linehan “set his followers on me” it was a “hellish few days”.

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Although several social media users lambasted Ayoade, the comedian has never publically endorsed anti-trans or anti-LGBTQ+ views. 

Linehan, who also wrote Father Ted, has been involved in anti-trans activism since a 2008 portrayal of a transgender woman in The IT Crowd was criticised as “transphobic”, an episode star Matt Berry described as “ridiculous and dated”

Linehan has since gone on to compare gender-affirming care for trans children to Nazi experiments in concentration camps.

In 2018, he was given a verbal harassment warning by police after spreading information on Twitter about a trans woman, including her home address.

In 2021, he joined – and was quickly kicked off – the queer dating app Her, where he set up a fake profile, pretending to be a trans woman and going on to share profiles of users he perceived to be trans on Twitter. 

Most recently, Linehan was dropped from a comedy gig at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe because of his anti-trans campaigning, with event organisers claiming: “His views will not violate our space”. 

PinkNews has contacted Richard Ayoade’s representatives for comment. 

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