Oprah Winfrey’s impact felt around the world

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LONDON – It’s the talk show talked about around the world.

LONDON – It’s the talk show talked about around the world.

Oprah Winfrey’s announcement last week that she will end her daytime TV program after its 25th season in 2011 made headlines from London to Johannesburg. Audiences for the show might be smaller outside the United States, but the whole world knows Winfrey – a celebrity ambassador for American culture who has influenced everything from the aspirations of young African girls to the global publishing industry.

In London’s Brixton neighborhood, a center for Britain’s Afro- Caribbean community, shoppers had warm words Tuesday for the American star.

“I don’t watch that often, but she has definitely had an impact on me personally,” said Tanya Wallis, 46. “She has helped me broaden my horizons and to diversify to look at others with more acceptance. We are all part of the human family.”

Winfrey’s show is syndicated in 145 countries, and her warm, informal style has been copied by TV personalities around the globe. Few, though, have achieved her connection with a huge audience and easy rapport with guests – or the sort of political clout that saw her endorsement help bolster Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

“I don’t think there has been anybody quite like her in history,” said Ellis Cashmore, an expert on celebrity culture at England’s Staffordshire University.

“She’s not just an A-list celebrity. Her ‘A’ has an asterisk next to it,” he said. “But the foundation of her extraordinary capacity is her ordinariness.”

Trisha Goddard, a daytime TV host sometimes labeled “Britain’s Oprah,” told the BBC that “there were talk show hosts before her, but they talked.

“She listens.”

That quality endeared her to millions around the world. Many of her most devoted fans are in South Africa, where she put $40 million into the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, a school for underprivileged girls near Johannesburg. AP

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