'I've slagged off Canada a lot in the past!' admits Katherine Ryan

Katherine Ryan: Who Do You Think You Are
(Image credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media Ltd/Stephen Perry)

But does Canada-born comedian Katherine Ryan have a new respect for her homeland after tracing her family tree on BBC One's Who Do You Think You Are?

It's comedian Katherine Ryan's turn to explore her family tree in BBC1's Who Do You Think You Are? tonight.

Katherine grew up in Canada, but it was only when she moved to Britain 13 years ago that she finally felt at home…

Born and raised in Ontario, the stand-up performer made a big splash on the comedy circuit when she came to London in her early twenties, before becoming a regular on hit panel shows such as BBC One's Would I Lie To You and QI.

Katherine loves life in the UK and she’s desperate to find out if she has a deeper connection to this country so she can prove a point to her 10 year-old daughter, Violet.

"Violet is very proud of being born in England and speaks the Queen’s English, she’s the fancy one of the family," says Katherine. "She’s always apologising for me in public, saying things like 'I’m sorry about my mother, she’s Canadian.' So it would be great to find that I’m descended from nobility and prove a point to her!"

Who Do You Think You Are with Katherine Ryan

Katherine Ryan (age 5) with her sister Joanne and maternal grandmother Dorothy Knight on Who Do You Think You Are. (Picture: BBC)

In her episode of the series, in which famous faces trace their ancestry and discover all kinds of secrets and surprises along the way, Katherine does eventually locate an English ancestor, a pub landlord who lived in the Dorset village of Corfe Castle during the late 1770s…

"I’ll tell Violet I have an ancestor who lived in Corfe Castle," explains Katherine. "Although I won’t say that’s the name of the village and that he actually lived in a pub!"

Yet while she was on the hunt for English roots, Katherine did discover something about her Canadian ancestors that changed her outlook.

"I’ve slagged off Canada in my stand-up routines a lot in the past," says Katherine. "But I realised that I need to be careful about what I say, because my ancestors worked really hard to survive in really harsh conditions. I didn’t realise my roots in the country were so deep and in the 1800s, my relatives ran a cod-packing business on the coast of Newfoundland. That gave me a new respect for how tough and industrious they must have been!"

Who Do You Think You Are is on tonight at 9:00pm on BBC1

Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for whattowatch.com. He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.