Richard Ayoade and Jonathan Ross endorse Graham Linehan memoir about being ‘cancelled’

Comedian Richard Ayoade and TV host Jonathan Ross are facing criticism after it emerged that their book endorsements feature prominently on a book by controversial Irish writer Graham Linehan.

Linehan, who created or co-created sitcoms including Father Ted and Black Books, will soon release a memoir titled Tough Crowd: How I Made and Lost a Career in Comedy.

He fell out of public favour after several incidents where he expressed anti-transgender or transphobic views, including comparing the use of puberty blockers to Nazi eugenics and experiments on children.

Linehan has repeatedly expressed his belief that he is a victim of cancel culture, and that his views have lost him work and caused his divorce.

Tough Crowd will delve into these topics and feature the 55-year-old berating “an industry where there was no one to stand by his side when he needed help”.

Some early reviews of the book have been included as part of its online marketing. One notable name quoted alongside the memoir is Linehan’s former IT Crowd colleague, Ayoade, who played shy computer technician Maurice Moss in the Channel 4 comedy.

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

A review from Ross hails Linehan as “one of the best TV comedy writers of all time”. The quote goes on to declare the book “a must-read for anyone who has ever wondered: a) how to create a hit sit-com and b) how it feels to lose everything. It’s funny, complicated and utterly compelling”.

On Thursday (14 September), Ayoade’s name was trending in the UK on Twitter/X after several social media users shared a screengrab of his quote endorsing the memoir.

Richard Ayoade, Graham Linehan and Jonathan Ross (Getty / PA)
Richard Ayoade, Graham Linehan and Jonathan Ross (Getty / PA)

Journalist and transgender activist India Willoughby wrote: “The Richard Ayoade endorsement of Graham Linehan is really disappointment – because at this point in the gender war, you’d have to use a lot of cognitive dissonance not to see Glinner for who he is.”

Elsewhere, another social media user remarked: “I think Richard Ayoade is sympathetic to exactly one thing here which is His Mate Having Media to Promote.”

When approached by The Independent, a representative of Richard Ayoade declined to comment. A representative of Jonathan Ross did not immediately respond.

Linehan has repeatedly described the trans “movement” as being “paedophilic”, and in 2020 was banned from X/Twitter for a “hateful conduct rules breach”.

His profile was reinstated – alongside a number of other controversial figures, including former US president Donald Trump and rapper Kanye West – when Elon Musk took over the social media platform late last year.

In April 2023, he was temporarily suspended from Twitter again after making a joke about killing protesters at an anti-trans rally in Belfast.

Graham Linehan said he would consider suing Leith Arches for cancelling his gig (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Archive)
Graham Linehan said he would consider suing Leith Arches for cancelling his gig (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Archive)

Last October, it was revealed that the number of transphobic hate crimes in the UK had risen by 56 per cent compared to the previous year, with a Home Office report linking the increase to discussion on social media.

Speaking to The Times this year, Linehan denied disliking trans people. He said: “Trans is so loosely defined. It seems to cover both Eddie Izzard and a 16-year-old girl who’s got dysphoria. There’s got to be an understanding of the difference between a transsexual who has been through something immense in their lives and someone who’s putting on black fingernail polish and trying to get into the ladies’.

“As we keep pointing out, we are only talking about places where conflict arises. My point has never changed. It’s about women in prison, women in rape crisis centres, women in changing rooms. It’s about children. It’s about homophobia. It’s about an incredible new form of sexism that I think is the worst ever. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never seen this kind of hate and aggression towards women.”