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Gail Porter: ‘Greed has destroyed the Edinburgh Fringe – I’m taking action’-Kitty Chrisp-Entertainment – Metro

She’s been ‘priced out’ of the festival in her home town.

Gail Porter: ‘Greed has destroyed the Edinburgh Fringe – I’m taking action’-Kitty Chrisp-Entertainment – Metro

Gail Porter is from Edinburgh – but visiting in August now just makes her sad (Picture: Joe Maher/Getty Images)

Gail Porter has pulled out of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival due to soaring costs – and claims there’s only one decent chippy van anyway, so what on earth is the point anymore?

‘What’s tempting me to it?’ asked the Edinburgh native in a chat with

Gail made her Fringe debut last year with her show Hung, Drawn and Portered after rising to fame as a TV star and then becoming a stand-up comic.

For many – and for Gail growing up – the Fringe is the most wonderful, vibrant time of the year. The streets of Edinburgh explode into a patchwork of posters as the city buzzes into life and the Royal Mile sees flyers fall like Scottish rain.

‘DO YOU HATE THE PATRIARCHY? COME SEE OUR PLAY AT 2.50pm,’ is something you may hear a lot on the streets of Edinburgh in August, while just metres away a student does cartwheels and an acapella group booms out The Circle of Life.

For performers – and especially comedians – the Fringe is a gateway to success, as reviewers flock to see shows and find the next big star. The likes of global phenomenon Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag was born on a little stage in Edinburgh. Most big name comedians were first spotted in some dim-lit basement of the Fringe, including the likes of Steve Coogan, Peter Kay and Catherine Tate. Many still go.

It is, undoubtedly, a world-class event. So much so, Edinburgh’s growing population of 500,000 requires 25,400 additional beds per night every August to accommodate performers and tourists, who all descend on the city to revel in the chaos.

The Edinburgh Fringe is the UK’s biggest, most vibrant arts festival – but there’s a problem (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

But, as discovered last year hearing horror stories from performers: for a festival that prides itself on fringe stars and liberal expression, it’s not exactly accessible.

For tourists it’s a big expense. But for performers its near impossible.

In 2024, it would cost Gail whopping £2,000 to put on a show for 10 days with the soaring cost of accommodation in the city throughout August taking advantage of high demand.

This coupled with train tickets also costing hundreds means that – alongside promotion and venue hire – the Edinburgh Fringe is simply not an affordable enterprise for Gail, who was a household name in the 1990s and noughties.

The former presenter turned to stand-up comedy later in life, after rising to fame as a BBC TV presenter on Top of the Pops and Channel 4’s Big Breakfast.

Her pivot to stand-up saw Gail open up about tough times in her life with mental health struggles – which led to her being sectioned – homelessness, and hair-loss. By discussing heavy topics through humour, Gail hoped to help people.

But she can no longer do this at the Edinburgh Fringe.

‘It’s just too expensive,’ said Gail in our chat following on from her viral social media post slamming the extortionate prices.

‘I did have a gig but it’s going to cost me a lot. People really can’t afford to get up there.’

‘I was speaking to Jason Manford earlier. I don’t know him, he sent me a message. He went, “it’s ridiculous”,’ she revealed.

She has pulled out of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe because of high costs (Picture: Gail Porter/Instagram)

Jason has also taken to social media, calling the accommodation prices for the festival an ‘absolute joke’.

Writing on X, the Mancunian comic and successful TV star said costs were stopping newcomers breaking into the industry.

‘I’ve just priced up a week up there and even if every show sells out, I’m still operating at a loss,’ he said.

In response, a spokesperson for the Fringe shared a link to a bursary scheme launched last year and encouraged Manford to share it with his social media followers.

They wrote: ‘You’re not wrong, Jason, it’s a real issue. We’re doing what we can to provide affordable accommodation and other support for artists, including our new Keep it Fringe fund – would be great if you could RT this and spread the word, it’s open to everyone.’

In response to Gail’s viral post, the festival’s X account responded, saying: ‘Totally understand your frustration, Gail – please know we’re doing what we can to find solutions, be it through discussions with govt or negotiating affordable options for artists.’

Being priced out is an even harder pill to swallow for Gail, as Edinburgh is her hometown which she now can’t afford to visit freely. Not even on New Year’s Eve – locally called Hogmanay – let alone in August, when the Fringe takes over the city.

‘I’m going to Thailand instead,’ she quipped. ‘I’m not going to lose out on almost £2,000 to go home. It’s my hometown. My friends have all offered rooms, but you know, they’ve all got families and kids. I probably will go up and stay with someone at some point, but it’s not the point.

‘I’m thinking about young people or people who are struggling, and they’d like to go up to the festival to perform or just be there. It’s just getting more and more nuts.’

Jason Manford has also weighed in on the debate (Picture: Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for The National Lottery)

Last year Gail performed a 30-day run, and was lucky to stay with cousins for the month and she had some savings behind her.

‘But imagine being someone who’s young, or someone who doesn’t make money?’ she asked, referring to the many up-and-coming comedians trying to get their foot in the door at the world-famous comedy festival.

‘I mean I don’t make much money at all, to be honest,’ Gail continued, explaining how, Fringe aside, she tours her comedy show to make people smile, and not for any sort of big cash. By the time she’s paid for venues, trains, hotels, she’s ‘lucky to break even’.

As for the Fringe, Gail will not be renting out a venue any longer but is taking a stand.

‘I don’t know where I’m going to do it, but I will be outdoors somewhere. I’m going to do my own mini protest, and I will do it for free,’ she said.

Gail has one friend who spent £20,000 putting on a show last year and had to stay outside of town. He was forced to taxi back from his late-night performances due to being priced out of accommodation in the city centre.

He paid a ‘fortune’ to live with eight or nine strangers, some of whom slept on the floor for the month.

Unsurprisingly, he isn’t returning this time around.

‘He was just completely deflated,’ Gail said. ‘He said it was just awful.’

In August, Edinburgh comes alive with the arts (Picture: Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

But Gail thinks the Edinburgh Fringe festival has lost its soul with rising costs (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

The solution?

‘People just need to stop being greedy. You can get a hotel for £89 in March, and a guy just sent me a message and said the same one tried to charge him £254 or something for one night in August,’ Gail said.

When Gail’s father died, she was left with a flat in Edinburgh. She wasn’t impressed when countless people advised her to chuck out the tenants and rent it out in August for easy cash.

‘That’s greedy. You don’t do that. This is what’s wrong with people. They’re just seeing pound signs and not looking after each other.’

Has this impacted the spirit of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – the UK’s leading liberal arts event?

‘100% the Fringe has lost its soul,’ Gail thinks. ‘My mum took me since I was five or six. We used to go to see kids stuff, a man jumping in an out of a balloon. Then the older I got it was comedy, then theatre. I just grew up with it.

‘Now when I get up there I just feel sad. It’s not how it used to be. We all just used to have so much fun. It wasn’t too expensive. Now, even the chips are rubbish,’ she tuts.

‘I love coming home, but August makes me sad.’

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