Hardback: 288pp

Published: Eye Books (October 2023)

ISBN: 9781785633065

Tough Crowd

Graham Linehan


How I Made and Lost a Career in Comedy

‘A must-read. Funny and utterly compelling’

Jonathan Ross

Having cut his teeth in music journalism, Graham Linehan became the finest sitcom writer of his generation. He captured the comedy zeitgeist not just as the co-creator of Father Ted but also with The IT Crowd and Black Books, winning five Baftas and a lifetime achievement award.

Then his life took an unexpected turn. When he championed an unfashionable cause, TV commissioners no longer returned his emails, showbiz pals lost his number and his marriage collapsed.

In an emotionally charged memoir that is by turns hilarious and harrowing, he lets us into the secrets of the writing room and colourfully describes the high-octane atmosphere of a sitcom set. But he also berates an industry where there was no one to stand by his side when he needed help.

Bruised but not beaten, he explains why he chose the hill of women and girls’ rights to die on – and why, despite the hardship of cancellation, he’s not coming down from it any time soon.





‘One of the very best television comedy writers of all time delivers a book which is 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’

Jonathan Ross

‘On writing, he’s brilliant. On gender, he’s thoughtful and empathetic. Throughout, he’s hilariously funny’

John Boyne

‘One of the most compelling and unflinchingly honest memoirs I’ve read in many years. It’s also the funniest’

Andrew Doyle

‘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 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’

Richard Ayoade

‘A brilliant account of the evolution of a comedy writer, but also an extraordinary and chilling portrayal of cancel culture. I found it unputdownable’

Lissa Evans

Tough Crowd is great company, and reminds us that Graham is first and foremost a writer, and a very funny one indeed. It is a not inconsiderable relief, in fact, to see that he has not lost the gift’

Simon Evans

‘Hilarious, raw and touching, this memoir from one of the world’s best comedy writers is a must-read. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to know the backstory behind Linehan’s greatest creation, the priests of Craggy Island – and why he gave up the life of a luvvie to fight the threats posed by trans ideology to women’s rights and child safeguarding’

Helen Joyce

‘Raw yet rip-roaringly funny’

Jo Bartosch


‘Bloodied not bowed, Graham Linehan has survived brickbats and cancellation to write a memoir full of humour and of courage’

The Oldie

‘Perhaps nothing Linehan has ever written has been as important as this brilliant but often painful memoir. Following in the tradition of Emile Zola’s J’Accuse, Linehan uses his own experience of being denounced as heretic to expose the hysteria that has gripped public discourse. This brave, wise, and funny man could well be vindicated in the years to come’

Leo McKinstry, Daily Express

‘Simultaneously eloquent and chatty, Linehan never strays far from his need to entertain. The saddest thing about this memoir is that the very people who should read it, to hear the facts, probably won’t’

Sunday Independent

‘The good news is that Graham Linehan is still funny. Tough Crowd contains a lot of fire and brimstone, but it is very entertaining’

The Critic

‘Linehan is an accomplished scriptwriter and he tells a cracking story. You may or may not revere his sitcoms, and you may laud or despise his politics; but if you want to know how a music writer from Dublin ended up as one of the most notable commentators in the gender wars, then you need to hear it from the man himself’

The Spectator

‘Linehan’s bracing and, at times, riveting memoir...charts the story of his apparent cancellation, but it also takes a deep dive into his formative years as a writer. The Father Ted chapters are stuffed with great detail and gossip’

Irish Independent

‘Linehan’s memories of making Father Ted, where he digs deep into the craft of comedy writing, brim with verve and charm’

The Guardian

‘A beautifully written memoir that is full of good humour and grace, and the best account yet of cancellation. Linehan’s is a story that calls out to be heard, and I suspect that the later chapters of this book will prove its biggest draw. To recommend it is to take a small stand’

Entertainment Focus

‘Because so much of the discussion around Tough Crowd will almost certainly be focused on his politics – namely, the trans issue and his part in that debate – I want to start by saying that this is a great book, full stop. It is well written, funny and endearing. In fact, it is one of the most entertaining new books I’ve read in a long time, in any genre’


‘A funny but dark memoir that goes from Linehan’s childhood in Dublin (nerdy, bullied) to his days as a music journalist, to writing Father Ted and The IT Crowd, to getting involved in the trans argument’

The Herald

‘Linehan’s book is genuinely funny and interesting, but it is also an engagement with a frustrated storyteller, telling the reader that he’s been robbed and he’s pretty bloody angry about it. This makes Tough Crowd a less comfortable read than it might be, but this book is not designed to make the reader comfortable’

Spectator Australia

‘Is it hoping too much to see Tough Crowd as the high-water mark of cancel culture in the UK? While his life may not travel full circle back to the status quo like that of Father Ted Crilly in episode after episode, one can at least hope that this brave and principled man can derive some happiness from the support he has so consistently provided to others’

Daily Sceptic

‘A superb read, it examines the vicissitudes of Linehan’s career as a comedy writer. Why, ultimately, is Tough Crowd so compelling? You feel as if you have just met the author in a pub; he has obviously had a few drinks, he seems to like you but he’s down on his luck and he needs to tell you his story’

Quarterly Review

Tough Crowd is both a wise and amusing guide to writing funny things for television and an account of the madness that has overrun the arts and universities throughout the developed world in the last two decades’

Helen Dale, Law & Liberty

‘Beautifully written, it’s also very honest, very funny and an important contribution to this debate’

Will Kingston, Australiana

‘Graham Linehan is engaging and funny as he can be while telling the truth about such a serious topic. Seriously funny. Like Father Ted, Linehan will never stop scheming to escape his exile, and we laugh because it hurts’

The Distance

‘Sure to be the most controversial British TV memoir of the decade’

British TV.com

‘He produces some very beautiful and insightful prose, and offers some trenchant commentary on pop culture, the cutthroat politics behind the scenes of beloved TV sitcoms, and the hope and betrayal of the internet age. His quixotic tilting at monstrosities like male rapists in women’s prisons breaks your heart. But his way with a bon mot will delight you’

Front Page magazine

Tough Crowd is well worth reading, both as a record of those happy days, not so very long ago, when comedy was still allowed to be funny, and of those rather sadder contemporary days when nothing is still allowed that same “immoral” leeway. It is a good book, written for a good cause’




Graham Linehan

Graham Linehan was born in Dublin. He is the mastermind behind beloved sitcoms Father Ted, The IT Crowd, Black Books and Motherland. His Substack is dedicated to monitoring the extremes of gender identity ideology and he also co-hosts the highly successful weekly YouTube show The Mess We’re In, which has garnered a remarkable 1.5 million views in just three years.

Cartoon: Nina Paley

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