My Irish Times profile is not hugely accurate

November 29, 2008


(Just got a long letter from Journalist Brian Boyd, where he details the research that went into his profile of me in the Irish Times. He’s genuinely upset that I don’t like it, and he feels that the story is close enough to the truth to make my many objections to it moot. I disagree, because I believe that a fact is either true or it’s not, just as someone is either pregnant or not. But I did write the post in anger and I should have paused before adopting my scorched-earth tone. Here’s the post again, except written by an adult.)

There’s a profile of me in the Irish Times today,  and there’s a few things wrong with it. I hate to inflict the following list of corrections onto the readers of WTD, but the piece is online now and so will presumably be used for research by other journalists and I want to make sure they have the facts.

In brief, then…

The story about how the ‘IT Crowd’ came to me is not true. The two incidents did not happen on the same day–it’s myth-making.

I wasn’t brought up in the Navan Road, I spent my first ten years on Glenbeigh Road, then moved to Castleknock.

I didn’t complain to Hot Press about a Pixies review.  I actually complimented them on a piece Bill Graham wrote about the NME.

“Over drinks in the International Bar, they talked about writing a comic documentary which detailed Father Ted’s day-to-day life. But nothing ever came of it.” Arthur and I had the idea to do a mock-documentary after we left Ireland and went to the UK, and quite far along after our arrival, at that. Arthur and I didn’t even THINK of writing comedy until years after we met each other.

“Linehan had grown up as a geeky outsider on Dublin’s northside. His interests began and ended with films, music and books. His three biggest comedy influences were Woody Allen, The Simpsons and Seinfeld, but all he ever wanted to be was a music critic.” Amazingly prescient of me considering I was born in 1968, and ‘Seinfeld’ and ‘The Simpsons’ both started running in 1990, when I was twenty-two years old. Why Brian believes I always wanted to be a music critic is beyond me. I certainly never said it in an interview because it’s not true. (Brian has an explanation for this that is too confusing for me to go into here).

Arthur and I didn’t start writing for Alexei Sayle, we started with ‘Smith and Jones’. There were no doors shut in our face after ‘Paris’–Ted was already in pre-production when it was going out. The Kevin McAleer ‘offer’ is completely overstated; I met him in a comedy venue and asked if he’d read the script and he said no. (“Quite possibly on the basis of how Paris had failed to perform.” This is quite possibly Brian using the words ‘quite possibly’ to excuse conjecture.)

“Never get into a game of poker with him. He’s close to a professional-level player.” I’m sitting at home at the moment, but I can still hear the laughter coming from every poker club I have ever played at. I am a cheerfully incompetent amateur, which is possibly giving myself too much credit.

Finally, the main reason I am writing this and the most annoying part of the whole thing. A purported quote from a friend which states ” I do know he was a bit disappointed with a documentary RTÉ made of him last year.”

This is nonsense and worse, hurtful to the people behind ‘Funny Business’. I was absolutely delighted with Adrian McCarthy’s documentary. It’s an exhaustive and (to me, at least) moving portrait of a very important year in my life, and it is as accurate and well-researched as one would hope from a serious profile.

Adrian, I hope you read this–I loved that program and if there’s a link to an online version of it, let me know so I can post it up.


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