TELEVISION / The Oprah circus
Friday 05 February 1993
'Part One: Born into poverty in segregated Mississippi, Oprah is raped at nine and in a detention centre at 13. Part Two: By good old-fashioned, down-home toil, Oprah works her way up through local radio to a syndicated chat show. Part Three: Within ten years, Oprah is the highest paid female performer in the US, earning a reported dollars 60m a year. To be continued.'
Despite such an improbable rags to riches story, Winfrey is still seen as 'one of us' by her viewers. She may be on first name terms with Bill Clinton but, hey, she's still addicted to junk food. She shares her fans' anguish about being overweight and finding 'Mr Right', she cries with them over child sexual abuse. She's 'been there', as the psychobabble beloved of her show would have it. Americans love nothing better than someone extraordinarily ordinary. Appearing 220 weekday mornings a year, Oprah has become the country's most famous next-door neighbour.
Yesterday's Oprah Winfrey Show (C4) carried the archetypal subtitle: 'My Wife Ignores Me'. An assortment of good ol' boys complained about being booted out of the marital bed for years on end, while the audience - which consisted principally of blue rinses and blow dries - whooped and whistled its approval like a hen party at a Chippendales concert.
They particularly relished the moment where a wife thanked Oprah for prompting her to sleep with her husband for the first time in four years. And a husband who pouted about feeling neglected elicited the biggest 'aaahs' this side of the Andrex doggie ad.
Such revelations can only emerge in the relaxed atmosphere Winfrey works so hard to create. It is seen at its most effective on Adult Oprah, currently showing late-night on Saturdays. Here the Oprah opiate lulls people into exposing their sexiest secrets (tomorrow night's is entitled 'My Mother Married My Husband').
Oprah's British equivalents, Kilroy and The Time The Place, look very stiff by comparison. Maybe it's just the culture gap; after all, can you imagine Kilroy: The Mini-Series?
Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air
Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression
tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 I've been called an abusive and dangerous parent, when all I did was listen to my transgender child
- 2 Why this father didn’t hide his daughter’s heroin overdose in her obituary
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 4 Teaching profession headed for crisis as numbers continue to drop and working lives become 'unbearable'
- 5 The most powerful passports in the world
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins
Warner Music owner Len Blavatnik tops Sunday Times Rich List
Sherlock series 4: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman have to be 'persuaded' to return, says Steven Moffat
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Oldest footage of London landmarks released
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
Rupert Murdoch berated Sun journalists for not doing enough to attack Ed Miliband and stop him winning the general election