Katherine Ryan decries lack of chat shows hosted by women in the UK

Katherine Ryan has criticised the lack of female evening chat show hosts in the UK.

The Canadian comedian, 40, who has appeared extensively on British panel shows including Mock the Week, Would I Lie to You? and Have I Got News for You said men predominantly front late night talk shows while women are allocated daytime slots.

Ryan, who moved to the UK in 2008, said she “grew up” watching talk shows and aspired to have one of her own but felt blocked by UK TV commissioners from fulfilling the career goal.

Speaking on Grace Dent’s Comfort Eating podcast, Ryan said: “I thought that either myself or any of my female peers could have a late-night chat show in this country. I think Sarah Millican had one for a little while, not any more.”

The Sarah Millican Television Programme was praised by critics for its “good jokes” and “quick wit”, however the show only ran for one year and was axed in 2013. Prior to Millican’s programme, Charlotte Church had a Channel 4 talk show for two years from 2006 and Caroline Aherne hosted The Mrs Merton Show for five years in the 1990s.

Contrastingly, male UK chat show hosts: Graham Norton, Jonathan Ross, Michael Parkinson, Alan Carr and Paul O’Grady all enjoyed decades long runs of their respective late night programmes throughout the 2000s. Similarly in the US, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers have dominated the late night talk show space.

“I think for whatever reason, women are sometimes relegated to daytime and then the boys do all the late-night chat shows,” Ryan said. “I love to see the format of, like, standing, topical, powerful, monologue, comedy monologue, and then sit down and chat. But that’s just because it’s what I grew up on, and I would love to see it with a really good outfit.”

Katherine Ryan has criticised the lack of female evening chat show hosts in the UK (Lorraine/ITV)
Katherine Ryan has criticised the lack of female evening chat show hosts in the UK (Lorraine/ITV)

The comedian agreed with Dent’s assessment that women are often seen as “soft” by the entertainment industry.

“These expectations are what softness and femininity mean in an industry where you and I are very alpha, and I think I’ve always said it’s a misconception to think that standup is masculine,” Ryan added. “Standup is just alpha, and some women are alpha. And so what does that mean? It sends people into a bit of a tailspin.”

It comes after Ryan recently revealed she has not been asked back to appear on Celebrity Gogglebox after her appearance on the show last year.

The 40-year-old mother of three said she ”loved” appearing on the Channel 4 programme alongside her husband Bobby Kootstra but the pair haven’t been asked back.

Ryan and her husband Bobby Kootstra on ‘Celebrity Gogglebox’ (Channel 4)
Ryan and her husband Bobby Kootstra on ‘Celebrity Gogglebox’ (Channel 4)

“I’m not sure that we were the best fit for Celebrity Gogglebox,” the comic told The Sun.“Only because we were new and there are so many other families and couples on there, that I don’t think we were on it very much.”

“We haven’t been asked back so far, but that’s okay. Like I’m not right for everything. I loved the opportunity because it’s a show that we watch.”

“I’m wondering like, how I can be funnier. You know, I’m not going to lie and pretend I didn’t notice that I’m on it for like five seconds.

“It’s alright, it’s ok to like to participate and be on something for five seconds. I’m not as funny as Ronan and Martin Kemp, I’m maybe not as funny as Ryland and his mum.”