Katherine Ryan’s first sitcom – The Duchess – lands on Netflix this week, starring the Canadian comedian as a fashionable yet chaotic single mother living in London who contemplates having a second child with her estranged baby daddy – a former boyband star now living on a barge.
While the comedy is semi-biographical, with the protagonist’s full name being Katherine Ryan, the comedian has revealed just how true to life the six-part series is and why she lent her full name to the exaggerated character.
“Her name is Katherine Ryan out of pure laziness because I always meant to change her name and then I just thought, ‘Oh well,'” Ryan said.
“The character is maybe more like my stage persona than she is like me, because in my real life, what is mirrored is that I do have a very special unique central mother-daughter relationship and it has always been prioritised above any other relationship in my life,” she added.
“I know Katherine has a unique world view and a real logical way of solving problems that ends up causing more problems for her, but she never disparages being a mom and that’s the same with me, I celebrate my relationship with my daughter and I’ve had other challenges in my life but parenting was never one of them.”
Ryan, who is best known for appearing on panel shows such as 9 out of 10 Cats, Mock the Week and Would I Lie to You?, added that a number of themes in the show were drawn from her stand-up material – in particular, the way she wrote her on-screen boyfriend Evan, played by Steen Raskopoulos.
“Flipping gender stereotypes – I wrote Evan to be a romcom woman, like ‘Oh please marry me!’ because I just see too many women doing that and I don’t see any men doing that, and there are men who will tolerate emotional abuse and just want to get married,” she joked.
However, she clarified that there are various key differences between her actual life and the Katherine within the sitcom, who possesses characteristics of her on-stage persona.
“In my real life though, I’ve not been pregnant by a boyband star and I don’t shout at the mums at the school gate, so there are differences,” she said.
“I think TV’s Katherine Ryan is a lot more disruptive and provocative and she has no filter and she’s way more of a narcissist. I think it’s fun to be a villain so I wanted to write a bad person who’s a good mom, but in real life I’m a bad person and a bad mom.”
The Duchess cast boasts an array of up-and-coming acting talent, including Peaky Blinders’ Rory Keenan, Michelle de Swarte, Sophie Fletcher and presenter Maya Jama.