Prominent female comedian Katherine Ryan has attacked the gender tokenism on the BBC’s satirical panel show Mock the Week on her podcast, Telling Everybody Everything.
Ryan, who has not appeared on the show since 2015, said that she boycotted it because she felt her appearances were used to deflect criticism from Mock the Week over its lack of diversity.
The panel show – hosted by Dara O’Briain – sees two teams of three compete to make the best jokes about current affairs, and has run for 18 seasons on BBC Two.
However, it has come under criticism for alienating female guests and viewers for its ‘laddish’ humour and competitive atmosphere. Such accusations led to the BBC banning all-male panel shows in 2014.
Pictured: Katherine Ryan, pictured at the NME Awards at the O2 Academy in Brixton, London, UK on Feb 12, 2020. Ryan spoke out during her podcast ‘
Speaking on her podcast, Ryan – a Canadian comedian based in the UK – said she had chosen not to appear on Mock the Week in protest against ‘pedestal feminism’, or the act of lifting up one woman while denying others opportunities.
‘I love Mock the Week ,’ she said. ‘I love Dara, I think that that show has given a platform for so many British comedians.
‘But I had to stop doing it because I knew that every time I was booked on that show I was taking food out of the mouth of another woman.
‘I was never taking James Acaster’s spot, I was never taking Ed Gamble’s spot on that show, I was always 100% of the time taking a job away from one of my female peers.
‘I thought, “OK, I’ve had my time on this show, and now I have to give it to someone else.”
‘As much as I loved to do it – it really helped me open up a fresh audience, I loved to go on there and play with all the other comics.
‘But I couldn’t do it anymore because of that fact alone – “No, Mock the Week doesn’t have a problem with women, look, Katherine Ryan’s on the show.”
‘Nuh uh. And now look, they will let two of us on in the same week!’
Katherine Ryan (second from right) pictured on Mock the Week – before she left the show – pictured along-side a number of male comedians including host Dara O’Briain (bottom middle) and Hugh Dennis (top-left)
Ryan, 37, also criticised Mock the Week for not offering her the same coverage as her male counterparts on the show, saying: ‘I wasn’t allowed to do the stand-up round, apart from once. And they always made me sit in the same chair.
‘Do you remember, we’d always be on the right, in the middle, in case what? One of us menstruated? It had some like, leak protection?’
Offering further insight into the industry, Ryan said that she still misses out on gigs because producers thing her material is too ‘female heavy’.
Female entertainers on television are also held to a higher beauty standard than male colleagues, she said.
Pictured: Katherine Ryan appears on ‘This Morning’ TV show in London, UK on Jan 27 2020. Ryan is also known for her many appearances on ‘8 out of 10 cats’ panel show and for her Netflix comedy special ‘Glitter Room’
‘I’m on TV a lot as a guest, and I’ve been told to wear my hair down because I look less severe. I’ve had my wardrobe combed through by people with zero fashion editorial experience to make sure they like what I’m wearing.
‘Most men just have to bring in something clean,’ she continued. ‘Half the time they can’t even manage that.’
According to The Times, The British Comedy Guide says that it wasn’t until 2017 and its 162nd episodes that Mock the Week featured two woman comics on the same programme.
Host Dara O’Briain has supported the calls for greater diversity on the show, but suggested that through creating quotas for female panelists guests might also feel like the ‘token woman’.