Linehan answered a series of questions about The IT Crowd and his writing career in a chat with users of the website Reddit last night. He opened by informing fans: "I'll say right off the bat... the bad news is no IT Crowd Series 5. The good news is an extended special next year called... actually I won't tell you the title because you'll end up imagining better storylines than the one I've written."
He went on to clarify "I'll never say never, but at the moment I'm just not feeling it."
Responding to a question about the reason for this decision, Linehan answered: "Chief reason was the fact that I just wasn't looking forward to it the way I used to. I felt that the last series was a nice strong point to go out on, and anything further might just be running on the spot. You don't do your best work when you're running on the spot.
"It feels like a natural time to wind things down. Apart from anything else, we're probably reaching that stage where it begins to feel odd that Roy, Jen and Moss are still stuck down in that basement. I don't want to start giving everybody babies to make it feel like they're moving on with their lives. My kind of comedy has always been setpiece-driven... and maybe that kind of thing has a naturally short life. I did three series of Father Ted, one of Black Books, one of Big Train, so I feel a personal sense of achievement that IT Crowd made it to series 4, especially as it gave me two of my favourite episodes, Jen The Fredo & Final Countdown.
"There just wasn't much in my idea file that topped those episodes, and I like to go into a series feeling I have some big moments lined up."
Asked about the previously publicised news that he was working on a fifth series with a group of other writers, Linehan revealed that the "experiment" to foster a virtual writer's room had failed, and that "in the end we weren't able to meet often enough to create the proper atmosphere". Stating that the group had been using the Basecamp collaboration website, he explained that it had felt too "stuffy" and "businesslike" to create a workable flow of material amongst the contributors.
He added: "I wanted to use the team to sort of crowd-source initial ideas, but the actual scripts were always going to be written by me in the end. It just doesn't make sense for me to farm out the job of writing scripts because that's where the lion's share of my income comes from when doing the show. And making the show is hard, man. It really takes a lot out of me. So I like to get paid."
Speaking further about the prospect of an IT Crowd special, Graham Linehan said: "The good news is the special, which is a big, juicy story with great storylines for all the characters (I think), and mmmmmmmaybe a film. It all depends on whether I come up with a good idea for one. One good enough to attract all the cast.
"It needs to deserve to be a film, though. So it's got to be BIG on all sorts of different levels. But even if that doesn't happen, I'm quite interested in the idea of the 'IT Crowd Universe'. Like the DC or Marvel Universes. You know... maybe catching up with Bennie Wong as Prime or Douglas's Big Spaceology Wedding... these might end up just being future specials."
Linehan also revealed that he is still working on bringing the character of Count Arthur Strong to television, with creator/writer and actor Steve Delaney. A pilot episode of a spoof TV game show, Count Arthur Strong's Entertainment Game was filmed in summer 2010, which Graham Linehan co-wrote and directed.
Explaining that it is the project he is currently "most excited" about, Graham said: "I think Count Arthur will be the one that finally achieves what I've been striving for all my life. I want to do something that, if you watch it while you're stoned, you could actually DIE."
Asked about studio audiences and laughter tracks, Graham answered: "I love shooting in front of an audience. Gives it a special magic when it works. But it's so bloody hard, so much harder than doing single camera, and at the end of it everyone complains that it's too quiet/loud/fake, so part of me doesn't wasn't to go through the stress. That said, I can't see Count Arthur working quite as well without an audience."
In closing, Linehan explained to an American fan that: "I would LOVE to work with a team. That's my dream job, to be honest. Going to work every day with funny people and then shooting it with a different set of funny people."