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!”
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!”