Plans for Pope Ted, the musical based on ’90s sitcom Father Ted have reportedly been axed following continued clashes between the programme’s creator, Graham Linehan, and trans-rights activists.
In an interview with the BBC’s Stephen Nolan on Match 24 (as reported by Chortle), the writer explained how his career has dissolved and how he’s lost his family over arguments that “have consumed his life”.
“My original bet was that the Ted musical was too big to fail,” Linehan said. “I simply thought, if they come after it, then that will be good because then people will see how crazy this is, how absurd and how censorious, how anti-female, how homophobic that this movement is.”
Linehan continued to say that producers had “rolled over” to campaigners’ demands and axed the production, despite it having already begun rehearsals.
He also added that The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon – who provided the theme tune for the original series and had been working on the production’s score since 2019 – had already written “some of the best music you’ll ever hear”.
“We have songs for every character, we have a great story, it was ready to go,’ said Linehan, “and just because a group of people have decided that anybody who speaks up against this ideology is evil, they’ve just kind of rolled over for those people. No one is standing up for me.”
Linehan continued to voice his opinions on cancel culture. “Every comedian at the moment is living under a kind of state of permanent blackmail,” he said. “Every comedian knows that if they step on the wrong side of any particular line, it could be this or it could be any other number of things, there’s a few hot button issues where you have to follow a certain line and if you don’t, you’ll be destroyed.
“I’ve been thoroughly cancelled. I’ll tell you how cancelled I am, there were two programmes called Cancelled and I wasn’t on either of them… that’s how cancelled I am.” Watch Linehan’s full interview above.
Linehan – who was also a writer for Black Books and The IT Crowd – faced backlash recently for a series of tweets considered by many to be transphobic, resulting in him being banned permanently from the social media platform in 2020.
Additionally, in 2018, Linehan was issued with a verbal harassment warning by police after he was involved in an online row with a transgender activist.