JAN MOIR: Double act cashing in on the royal soap Oprah

JAN MOIR: I’ve admired US media queens Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King for years, but NOT now they’ve cloaked themselves as superhero apologists for Meghan and Harry

Are we all watching The Oprah and Gayle Show? Pass me the popcorn, I don’t want to miss a minute.

Not only are Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King close friends, they are two of the most powerful media figures in the U.S. 

Oprah is a billionaire business and entertainment mogul, while Gayle is an award-winning journalist and host of the CBS This Morning Show.

I have admired them both for years. Until now.

For the two women have assigned themselves strange new roles, far beyond their remit as supposedly objective journalists.

Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King (pictured in 2010) are two of the most powerful media figures in the U.S

Without so much as a curtsey or even a fleeting grasp of British history, the pair have cloaked themselves as superhero cheerleaders, apologists, spokespeople, champions and chief supporters of and for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

How did we get here, to this treacly plateau of puff after every little Harry and Meghan huff? 

First with Oprah’s CBS TV special, in which the chat-show veteran allowed the Sussexes to unfurl their moany banner of ‘truth’ without correction or intervention, even when being pelted by inconsistencies and inaccuracies.

Now TV host Gayle has picked up the baton to propound the Sussexian view of events; a version which always puts H&M as the innocents at the mercy of cruel forces trying to deprive them of their titles, money and prestige.

This week, Gayle seems to have become their unofficial mouthpiece, revealing on her show that talks between Prince Harry and his father and brother had been ‘unproductive’. 

Also that Prince Harry had a deal with CBS to pull the interview should his grandfather Prince Philip die during the Sussex publicity campaign.

Can that possibly be true? Sorry, kids. Oprah and Gayle don’t have time to check that kind of detail. Let’s move on.

So unflinching is their devotion to Harry and Meghan, one has to wonder how deeply both women are involved in the lives of the Sussexes.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their two-hour CBS interview with Oprah Winfrey

From early meetings at Kensington Palace to wedding and baby shower invitations, Oprah and Gayle have been at every unfolding chapter of the Megxit story.

Oprah even seemed to facilitate the Sussexes’ temporary move to her friend Tyler Perry’s house in Los Angeles. And the couple, plus baby Archie, stayed with her at one point — and now they are neighbours in Montecito. Cosy!

Perhaps Oprah — and Gayle — are so protective because it is they who are the geese who laid the royal golden eggs, and they’ll protect their investment at all costs, even if that cost is the truth.

For example, the doctored montage of newspaper headlines shown during the Oprah interview were meant to suggest the British Press (hurrah!) were racist and anti-Meghan. 

Yet many of these headlines were edited or taken out of context, while others were from non-British titles. Yet CBS (boo!) will not remove them, for reasons that are unclear. Or are they? 

This week, Miss King took the tiny opportunity to sneer at anti-Meghanist Piers Morgan. She claimed he was ‘sacked’ from his Good Morning Britain show after 57,000 complaints to Ofcom.

This followed Morgan saying he did not believe anything the Duchess of Sussex said, particularly not her assertions that in 2019 she thought about killing herself (and therefore her unborn baby, too).

Who can know of the sorrow that engulfs the troubled mind? 

Yet surely one can sympathise with the Duchess’s predicament while still understanding that it is important to note and report that Morgan, in fact, resigned from GMB — and more than 200,000 people have signed a petition begging him to stay.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle attending the Commonwealth Day Service in 2020

Yet all this was ignored by Miss King; dismissed as inconvenient truths which do not tally with the cherished Sussex- centric narrative.

Meanwhile, it does not take a huge stretch of the imagination to understand how Oprah and Meghan came to bond in such a powerful way.

Oprah is blessed with great personal warmth, but is also tough and controlling, with a notorious reputation for cutting off those who cross her or displease her. Sounds familiar?

She also believes it is important for people to tell their own story, which is ironic, given that she is know to have made her own employees sign draconian Non-Disclosure Agreements, preventing them from ever talking about working with her.

Were they silent — or silenced? Both, actually. And how.

Over the decades, Oprah became famous for the choreographed voyeurism of her talk shows. It was only later that she moved into celebrity interviews, and her 1993 sit down with Michael Jackson was a classic.

This week, Miss King took the tiny opportunity to sneer at anti-Meghanist Piers Morgan

‘I’ve had very little plastic surgery,’ he told her, and insisted he was a normal guy who loved his girlfriend, Brooke Shields. Oprah sympathised with his complaints about ‘cruel’ tabloid speculation — much of which later turned out to be true.

In the end, I find it really disappointing that Oprah and Gayle, these two trailblazing, amazing women seem so ready to trash a royal family and an entire nation on the say-so of two aggrieved and entitled people who happen to be their pals.

Especially as I once met Oprah — and interviewed her myself. I remember her warmth, her commanding presence, her boyfriend, Stedman, hovering in the background like a butler.

Also her admission that she stockpiled her favourite shampoos, knickers and fluffy bath towels, presumably because she grew up in poverty and had nothing nice of her own.

But most of all I remember her belief that people found appearing on her chat shows very cathartic, because it was sometimes easier to say something in public than it was face to face.

‘And once you have said your piece to 20 million people, there is no going back,’ she added.

Indeed.

We don’t have anything or anyone in the UK quite like Oprah or Gayle. Oprah, in particular, is one of the most powerful cultural figures in America. Her influence and reach are phenomenal. She is an American icon, the pope of popular culture.

If you receive her blessing, then you have got it made. And right now Meghan and Harry are visibly reborn, as they luxuriate in the warmth of her benevolence and power. 

But for how long can this love-in continue? It won’t last for ever — and what then?

Evening all. Can I just remind readers that the new series of Line Of Duty begins on Sunday night at 9pm (BBC1). 

The AC-12 gang are all there, with the addition of new character Detective Chief Inspector Joanne Davidson — as played by Scottish actress Kelly Macdonald. 

She was last seen as Metropolitan Police detective Sarah in the Japanese police thriller Giri/Haji — bit of a promotion there, Kelly girl! On screen, she excels at the kind of troubled, middle-distance, ambiguous stare that all LOD characters need to perfect.

Fans of the series will have to brush up on their police acronyms, but here is a helpful hint for episode one — a CHIS is not an abbreviation of chisel, but a Covert Human Intelligence Source.

You’re welcome! Ma’am will suffice. As you were.

Shaken by Dan and Nan show

Daniel Craig will take part in the Comic Relief broadcast on BBC tonight, reprising his role as James Bond for perhaps the last time.

Unlikely as it may seem, he appears in a sketch with Nan, Catherine Tate’s foul-mouthed character. I feel this is unfair. 

If they’d wanted some old hag in a stained cardi to star alongside 007, why didn’t they ask me? I’m always available for Dan-duty, as regular readers know.

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as James Bond and take part in the Comic Relief broadcast on the BBC tonight

Still, even a tiny glimpse of Bond will be a bonus. The new film No Time To Die has been put back three times, and will now be released in September. And yes, you are correct. 

Mr Craig will not be appearing in his blue trunks in this film, but I thought this picture would remind us all of how nice those trunks were, and let us appreciate and admire once more the clever ergonomic design of the side panels, which facilitate better swimming and underwater movement. Am I right? I am right. 

What a liberty, as Nan would almost say.

A red flag for rudeness

Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty mocked Robert Jenrick for having a Union flag and a portrait of the Queen in his Westminster office

BBC Breakfast hosts Charlie Stayt and Naga Munchetty openly mocked a Government minister for having a Union flag and a portrait of the Queen in his Westminster office.

‘I think your flag is not up to standard size government interview measurements. I think it is just a little bit small,’ sneered Stayt, during a live interview with housing minister Robert Jenrick. 

Munchetty sniggered in the background, then added her tuppenceworth.

‘Always the flag,’ she scoffed. ‘And a picture of the Queen there, too.’

A small moment, but a very telling one. An investigation is underway to see if the smug presenters breached impartiality rules. Who knows, but they certainly breached the rules of good manners.

How rude and patronising they seemed, how ignorant of the world. National flags are on display in government buildings across the globe — but only in the UK is it somehow permissible to be superior about those who support Queen and country.

Pathetic, the pair of them.

Hollywood has moved to Australia — but Australia has bitten back. The actress Melissa McCarthy, who is out there making a film, was hospitalised after being bitten by a huntsman spider.

‘I love that all the bugs and creatures will kill you,’ she raved from her sickbed. Is she delirious? I bet I am not the only arachnophobe who is not going to sleep tonight.

‘Don’t judge Australia by the Australians,’ Barry Humphries once joked. No, but I’ll judge it by the ferocious nature of its wildlife. 

So many critters can kill you, from crocodiles and sharks to something called a stonefish which has enough venom to stun a regiment.

And that is before we get on to the deadly spiders including the red backs and funnel webs. Unlike them, the huntsman spiders — usually the size of a saucer — are not venomous, but their fangs can puncture the skin and cause a bad reaction.

‘Melissa is a wuss,’ said one unimpressed TV host. Terrifying.

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