AWARD-WINNING comedian Ricky Gervais yesterday launched an outspoken attack against "scum" ticket touts trying to cash in on his one-off Edinburgh Festival Fringe show.
More than 200 is being demanded on internet auction sites for tickets to see the star of The Office and Extras at the Playhouse in August.
But the star – who was accused of ripping off fans by charging too much for a Fringe show two years ago, has now launched a tirade against anyone selling on briefs they have bought at inflated prices. Gervais said: "Please don't buy them. The people selling them are scum."
His publicist also revealed yesterday that hundreds of tickets are being kept back for release when the official Fringe programme comes out in June.
Gervais – who made his debut at the Festival in 2001 in the wake of the initial success of The Office – has become the first star to confirm an appearance at this year's Fringe, at the 3,000-capacity Playhouse on 25 August.
Two years ago he was accused of greed when he charged 37.50 a ticket for his 8,000-capacity open-air show at Edinburgh Castle Esplanade. Tickets for the Playhouse show are priced at between 15 and 30.
Gervais, writing on his blog, said: "I have tried to stop this happening, but I can't. I've tried holding tickets back for sale on the night. I've tried putting gigs on sale at the last minute so people don't have time to put them on, but nothing works. I'm flattered that anyone would want to see me that much, but it breaks my heart that people spend their hard-earned money because of someone's greed.
"On my last tour, one theatre manager excitedly told me he'd just seen someone pay 1,000 for two tickets right by the ticket office. I think he thought I'd be pleased. I was horrified."
Gervais's spokeswoman, Katie Phillips, said: "Although all the tickets that went on sale in early April for Ricky's show at the Playhouse are now sold out, the concert is not a complete sell out.
"An allocation of around 25 per cent of the tickets has gone to the Fringe box office and will be made available when the programme is released in early June. Our message to anyone who has not got tickets is that there will be another chance to buy tickets at face value."
It emerged this week that tickets for major shows in Edinburgh are being touted online for up to ten times face value. Trading standards officers have warned fans to be wary of buying from unofficial sources as there is no guarantee they will actually receive any tickets.
Two years ago, Gervais came under fire from rival comedians and promoters for charging so much for his Fringe show at the castle. He was accused of emptying the pockets of fans who would otherwise have gone to several other comedy gigs.
However, the castle show was a sell-out and was credited with helping the Fringe to notch up record ticket sales in 2007.