MEGHAN MARKLE and Prince Harry’s Oprah interview won’t “be as big” as Princess Diana’s Panorama interview or Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interrogation, but “many millions” will be made by TV companies on both sides of the Atlantic, says broadcaster Andrew Neil.
Their CBS interview with the Hollywood chat show queen will be shown next Sunday but it will not have as much impact as Harry’s mother’s sensational broadcast in 1995 or his uncle’s grilling in 2019, said Mr Neil. His comments come as a royal author urged the Duke of Sussex to rebuild bridges with his family in Britain…before it is too late. Margaret Holder, writing for today’s Sunday Express, believes Prince Harry should be as focused on his ailing grandfather, Prince Philip, who turns 100 in June, as the rest of his relatives.
Meanwhile, a feared biographer planning a book on the Duchess of Sussex has labelled Prince Harry’s appearance on James Corden’s The Late Late Show “desperate” and “unfortunate”.
Best-selling writer Tom Bower said: “My feeling is that it is pretty desperate. Harry is now pushing himself into extremes.”
The segment on the US series saw Harry ride on an open-top tour bus in Los Angeles and take part in an assault course alongside Corden, as well as rapping.
Asked to put the Oprah chat in perspective to other big Royal sit-downs, former top BBC political interviewer, Mr Neil said: “Not nearly as big as the Diana interview, which was historic and made global news.
“Depending on what they say, maybe not as big as [Prince] Andrew either, which was not intended to be big – but became so when he opened his mouth.
“The interview is 90 minutes of CBS primetime with Oprah, so worth many millions in ad revenues. Plus millions more in global sales (unlike the Diana interview, the interviewer is as famous as the interviewees).”
Soon to launch his own channel, GB News, Mr Neil believes the Sussexes may still make money from the venture despite reports they are not taking a fee from the interview.
Mr Neil said: “Mr and Mrs Sussex must surely have cut themselves a stake in the overall deal.”
CBS bosses believe next Sunday’s primetime special will attract a “Super Bowl-sized audience” in America with massive syndication deals in other countries.
The British TV channel which broadcasts the interview will command a high price for adverts and up to half-a-million pounds per ad break, said Gideon Spanier, from advertising and marketing industry magazine Campaign.
ITV continues to be the frontrunner to win the broadcasting rights over Sky News, and Mr Sanier said: “On a mass-market channel such as ITV, if it could get a large audience of over 10 million, a 30-second spot might command £100,000.On a subscripion or cable channel with a smaller audience, a similar ad spot would be £20,000 or less.”
Writing in today’s Sunday Express, Margaret Holder warns that Harry “grows further from his heritage” with the looming prospect of next weekend’s TV interview with Oprah.
Ms Holder declares: “Possible breaches of protocol could raise huge problems when they should all by focused on Philip’s recovery.”
She points to Prince Charles’ tearful visit to his father’s hospital bedside last week, adding: “It took Charles 72 years to see his father in a new light. Let’s hope Harry reaches a similar epiphany a lot sooner.”
The “tell all” interview will actually air in the US on the same day the Queen and other members of the Royal Family are due to appear in their own TV special honouring Commonwealth Day on the BBC.
CBS chiefs are keeping the contents of Oprah Winfrey’s show a strict secret, with one senior production executive confirming: “They are building this up as a ratings blockbuster.
“Super Bowl sized figures of 30, 40 and even 50 million are being bandied around in advance and there is no doubt the audience is going to be massive.” Ms Winfrey’s friend, American journalist Gayle King, one of only a handful of people believed to have seen the final edit, said: “Nothing is off-limits. Nothing at all.”
A senior ITV source told the Sunday Express that he “wouldn’t guide anyone away from the idea” that the commercial broadcaster was still in the battle.
High-level negotiations are also continuing at Sky News although senior executives wouldn’t comment directly.
Channel 5, although owned by Viacom who also have control of CBS, didn’t bid for the exclusive rights to the interview, while Channel 4 are not believed to be part of the bidding war.
The BBC, meanwhile, have stepped away from the media event, having rights to the Queen’s Commonwealth Day message next Sunday.
The Oprah interview will be shown in the US next Sunday night, British time, around 1am in the morning.
Any UK transmission is likely to be scheduled for Monday evening.
PR guru Mark Borkowski said the story is all about Oprah.
“Oprah is very clever, and there’s a lot riding on this for her.
“She’s not going to give them a soft ride otherwise it will put her integrity into question.
“It’s a big win for Oprah, and this is about a broadcaster getting a scalp.”
Regarding the Sussexes, he said, “are on a full-tilt publicity drive to build their brand”.
He added: “They’re building a foundation in America and Harry has already signalled this in being positive about The Crown with a nod to his Netflix paymasters, while causing consternation back in the Palace who hate the portrayal of the Royal Family by writer Peter Morgan.”