An open letter to Armando Iannucci
Graham Linehan asks why Britain’s most-celebrated satirist has turned a blind eye to woke authoritarianism.
Hello! It’s Graham Linehan here! You may remember me. In fact, you gave me and my writing partner, Arthur Mathews, one of our first jobs in comedy. We wrote two or three sketches for The Day Today, and it was a source of immense pride for us to know that, in our own small way, we had contributed to the history of a groundbreaking show. Even better somehow was when Arthur and I actually appeared in an episode of I’m Alan Partridge. To this day, people on the street sometimes greet me with ‘There’s more to Oireland Dan Dis’. It’s like they’re doing an Al Jolson impression in front of a black person! But I didn’t mind. I was proud to be part of a community of funny people.
Then, we went our separate ways. You fashioned a career out of political satire whereas Arthur and I preferred, I suppose, to remain in the realms of whimsy with Father Ted, and other sitcoms I went to make on my own. In fact, the last time we spoke was when you kindly gave advice on my own sitcom with an overbearing central comic character, Count Arthur Strong.
Boy, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Maybe you’re unaware, but I’ve had my livelihood destroyed along with my ability to work in comedy. I have no agent and was offered £200,000 by Hat Trick’s Jimmy Mulville to take my name off a stage musical of Father Ted, which I had hoped would be my pension. Jimmy Mulville and Hat Trick are now sitting on the musical and refuse to release the rights.
How come? Well, a few years ago, I started to notice that children were being mutilated and sterilised as part of a medical fad, which spread among the American middle classes and, from there, around the world. I also noticed that women were being harassed from their livelihoods and social circles for the crime of bringing attention to this. I added my voice to theirs and saw my reputation gradually destroyed by activists working in various places – from the attack dogs of Pink News to the complicit, incurious journalists of the BBC. This all happened in broad daylight. Only one of my friends offered any help, the actor James Dreyfus (maybe you’ve forgotten him, too?), who signed a letter calling for a less toxic debate on gender issues. As a result, he has hardly worked since.
And now I see your appearance on Newsnight last week, claiming, ‘I think the people who most use that phrase “woke” are the ones who are themselves most censorious’.
Can you give me some examples, Armando? Anything to match the story of Rosie Kay, who lost the dance group that bore her name because she refused to capitulate to the dancing nonbinaries who demanded she recant her perfectly commonplace beliefs about the importance of biological sex? Or Gillian Philip, whose writing career was destroyed because she too refused to bend the knee to an incoherent belief system? Or Christian Henson, who lost his music-tech business because he stood up for me and JK Rowling? Or Rachel Meade, a social worker now exonerated after a two-year ordeal for the crime of being a feminist?
Armando, it was not the right that called me a bigot for standing up for women’s rights. It’s not the right putting children on a medical pathway which for many will have no exit. Future generations will be astonished that an American child, Jazz Jennings, became the subject of an almost unbelievably cruel social experiment, all of it documented in the modern trend where instead of concealing atrocities, we film and broadcast them. Have you seen I Am Jazz? Did you see what happened to detransitioner Keira Bell? Have you seen the rape and death threats sent to JK Rowling? Have you any opinions whatsoever on these matters? I’ve certainly never heard you reference any of them. And I would know, because I and the women I support are desperate for the intercession of smart, engaged people who recognise that the identitarian left is a huge societal problem.
Perhaps you’re frightened because you know that what was done to me can just as easily be done to you. Understandable. But if that is the case, who are you frightened of? Certainly not the right, who doesn’t cancel anyone short of kiddy-fiddlers and those who would condone atrocities. No, these cancellations are all the actions of a left that has swapped anti-fascism and feminism for anti-Semitism and men’s rights activism. You can choose to ignore it – in fact, I highly suspect that that’s what you will do with this letter – but you look foolish when you try to deny it.
If you aren’t in a position to tell the truth, that’s fine. But please don’t insult me and many others by pretending we’re the authoritarians in all this.
Graham Linehan is a former TV comedy writer best known for sitcoms Father Ted, Black Books and The IT Crowd. Follow him on Substack.
Picture by: YouTube.
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