Katherine Ryan criticises lack of women hosting late-night chatshows in UK

The comedian Katherine Ryan has lamented the lack of female late-night chatshow hosts in the UK in an interview for Grace Dent’s Comfort Eating podcast.

Ryan, a standup comedian who has appeared in UK panel shows and sitcoms, including The Duchess on Netflix, said men appear to be handed late-night shows while women tended to feature more in daytime TV.

The daily late-night talkshow is a staple of US television, which also has a predominantly male slate of hosts including Seth Meyers, Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert. The standup comedian Taylor Tomlinson recently started hosting a new late show on CBS after Colbert’s slot, called After Midnight.

In the UK, the closest equivalent would be The Graham Norton Show or The Jonathan Ross Show.

Ryan, who was born in Canada and moved to the UK in 2008, said she “grew up” on the format.

Asked if there were jobs she would like to do but had been prevented from by UK commissioners, she told Dent: “I thought that either myself or any of my female peers could have a late-night chatshow in this country. I think Sarah Millican had one for a little while, not any more.

“And I think for whatever reason, women are sometimes relegated to daytime and then the boys do all the late-night chatshows. 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.”

Agreeing with Dent’s view that women were seen as “soft” by the industry, Ryan added: “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 – standup is just alpha, and some women are alpha. And so what does that mean? It sends people into a bit of a tailspin.”

Charlotte Church had a late-night talk show for two years from 2006 to 2008 on Channel 4, while Davina McCall’s attempt in 2006 on the BBC lasted just eight episodes and was branded a “flop”. The Mrs Merton Show, with the late comedian Caroline Aherne performing as the eponymous host, was popular in the 1990s but was a radical take on the format.

Otherwise, the format has been dominated in the UK by men, with the likes of Alan Carr, Des O’Connor, Frank Skinner, Paul O’Grady and Michael Parkinson among the hosts of the past.

In a wide-ranging podcast, Ryan discussed challenges she had experienced with lupus, an auto-immune condition that causes joint pain, as well as her time working for Hooters, the controversial American-founded restaurant famous for its hotpants-clad hosts.

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The 40-year-old also spoke about the cosmetic surgery she has had, and what Dent calls her “honest” and “open” approach to discussing the work.

Ryan said: “It’s worrying that the default is to hide or to lie or not to disclose these things. I think, why wouldn’t everyone be honest?

“I think it creates a really dangerous atmosphere of women, especially, thinking they should or could achieve something, not really understanding how it happened, and they have [an] unrealistic body image.”

She added: “I feel really confident, or maybe I don’t, because I do enjoy the idea of getting these procedures, but I certainly never want to lie – I just think it’s gaslighting.”

The Guardian

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