Katherine Ryan claims rapper Slowthai 'didn't make her uncomfortable' following NME Awards backlash

Comedian Katherine Ryan has insisted rapper Slowthai didn’t make her “uncomfortable” during an awkward, close-up exchange at the NME Awards 2020.

While the 8 Out of 10 Cats regular was hosting the event at the O2 Academy Brixton, the musician approached her on stage, asking that she smell his aftershave before he leaned his face into hers and wrapped his arms around her.

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"If you wanna do something see me later, yeah? You ain't ever had anyone play with you like me,” he said, addressing her as “baby girl” and telling the audience that she wanted him to “tend to her flowers”.

"You are like the hottest guy I've ever seen,” Ryan, 36, clapped back sarcastically. "Thank you Mike from Love Island. You are younger than my babysitter."

After the footage emerged online, many took to social media to slam Slowthai’s behaviour and suggest that Ryan used humour to “mask her discomfort”. Now, she’s responded to the backlash, saying: “He didn’t make me uncomfortable.”

“This is why we need women in positions of power,” she tweeted. “I knew he had lost from the moment he opened his mouth like any heckler coming up against a COMIC - not a woman - a COMIC. I was operating 2/10. What a sweet boy. I defused it. Tonight was fun!"

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 12:  Katherine Ryan and Slowthai attend The NME Awards 2020 at the O2 Academy Brixton on February 12, 2020 in London, England.  (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
Katherine Ryan and Slowthai at The NME Awards 2020 at London's O2 Academy Brixton (Getty)

“Well played, Katherine. But it still doesn’t excuse what he did,” a follower responded, to which she replied: “He was fine. I’m the kind of woman he can say whatever he likes to! He’s fun.”

“You handled it immaculately,” celebrity pal Romesh Ranganathan said, while Radio 4’s Susan Calman added: “You are magnificent in every way.”

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Slowthai, 25, has since tweeted a public apology to Ryan, suggesting that NME forward the Hero of the Year award he received on the night to her instead.

“What started as a joke between us escalated to a point of shameful actions on my part,” he explained. “I want to unreservedly apologise, there is no excuse and I am sorry. I am not a hero. Katherine, you are a master at your craft and next time, I’ll take my seat and leave the comedy to you.

“To any woman or man who saw a reflection of situations they've been in in those videos, I am sorry. I promise to do better. Let's talk here."