Who Do You Think You Are?

Canadian comedian Katherine Ryan hunts for English roots in this week's Who Do You Think You Are?

By her own admission, comedian Katherine Ryan has been quite disparaging about her Canadian roots in some of her stand-up routines over the years, but she gains a fresh perspective on her ancestors in tonight’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

She was born and bred in Ontario, Canada, to an Irish father, Finbar, and Canadian mother, Julie. But it was only when she moved to Britain in 2008 that she finally felt at home.

She made a big splash on the comedy circuit when she came to London in her early 20s, before becoming a regular on panel shows such as Would I Lie to You? and QI.

But while Katherine, 36, who’s a single mum to nine-year-old Violet, loves life in the UK, she has long wanted to find out if she has a deeper connection to this country.

So she jumped at the chance to take part in BBC1’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Grandmother Dorothy Knight, with Katherine's sister Joanne and Katherine aged 5

Grandmother Dorothy Knight, with Katherine’s sister Joanne and Katherine aged 5

“I’ve seen every episode of the show – it’s fascinating!” Katherine told TV Times.

“So I was so excited, even though a few of my friends said, ‘I wouldn’t want to know.’ That surprised me – I thought everyone wanted to know.”

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Katherine is the latest in a tough line – one predecessor ran a cod-packing business in the harsh conditions of 1800s Newfoundland, which was no mean feat, and neither was travelling about on a horse as a “saddlebag preacher”.

Yet as a staunch Anglophile, what Katherine really wants to find is an English ancestor, and after travelling back two centuries, she finally discovers a controversial relative who owned a pub in Dorset.

“I think Violet will be impressed that he lived in Corfe Castle,” she said. “Although I won’t tell her that’s the name of the village and he actually lived in a pub!”

TV Times rating: ****