Ryan told Sri-Lankan born contestant Tamara she would be more confident if she were a “straight, white man”.
Many viewers complained to the BBC, arguing in true Twitter style that Ryan’s comment was offensive, to whom however, is the question. The BBC responded in a statement: “We can assure you, we never set out to offend viewers with anything we show.”
The Beeb responded further by basically arguing that with Ryan ‘you get what you see on the tin,’ “Many viewers of this programme will be familiar with Katherine Ryan’s well-established style of comedy after multiple appearances on BBC comedy programmes over the years.”
That is quite an assumption on their part. I enjoy Katherine Ryan, the stand-up comedian but did not enjoy Katherine Ryan, The Duchess. Same tin, different contents. So their argument is somewhat dismissive but does not excuse offensive comments. Not that her comments were particularly offensive to anyone other than those looking to find something offensive.
For those who have not seen Canadian born Ryan, which is difficult to imagine as she appears on just about every panel show on TV including Mock the Week, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Have I Got News for You, Roast Battle and Celebrity Chaser as well as the BBC’s Live at the Apollo with her stand-up act.
So what’s the show about?
You may not have seen the show (probably 98% of the population haven’t), basically it follows eight amateur jewellers as they battle it out over six episodes in the hope of being crowned Britain’s Next Jewellery Star. It’s another show in the same vein as other practical skills formats such as The Great British Bake-Of , The Great British Sewing Bee and The Great Pottery Throw Down (we can only hope that unlike judge Keith Brymer Jones, Ryan won’t burst into tears every week).
The controversy occurred as contestant Tamara was struggling with one of the tasks and by way of encouragement Ryan told her “You need to really back yourself… do you know how confident a straight white man would be right now?”
“Yeah, I know,” Tamara responded.
There is so little tolerance these days that we are now close to the stage where our best hosts will be too scared to take part in unscripted television shows for fear of upsetting somebody with an innocent aside.
P.S. Going to see her in Nottingham next February, I’m well aware of what will be in that tin. Can’t wait.