Madonna is the world's most powerful celebrity according to Alvin Hall, presenter of World's Most Powerful. But should it have been Oprah Winfrey?
Alvin Hall chose Madonna as the World's Most Powerful celebrity
"It wasn't an easy choice" says Alvin who points to Madonna's "extraordinary ability to re-invent herself" in anticipation of changing fashions.
Do you agree with Alvin? Here are a selection of your comments.
I thought the show was excellent. It was great to see two poweful women go head-to-head. For me Madonna is the great icon and an inspiration to many young women like myself. Looking forward to the next couple of episodes.
Top programme, you guys. Did think some of it was too similar in terms of the categories but enjoyed it very much. How will Alvin do with the others in the series? I gotta watch and see. Go Alvin!
Jamie Hoyt, Boulder, Co, USA
I think that Oprah should win this one. Madonna has only ever done anything to meet her own selfish needs and to be noticed. Oprah has always dedicated the things she does to help other people. And considering what she has been through in her life, I think she is a remarkable lady.
Amanda Allen, Liverpool
Every little child knows that: M A D O N N A !
Thomas, Berlin, Germany
I have to agree with Madonna. She really has adapted well to the changes in culture and the music industry.
Chris D, Canada
I must disagree STRONGLY with Alvin Hall. Oprah Winfrey has to the most powerful when you take into account all categories that he created for establishing what power is. He got that one wrong. I'll be watching the other two programmes to keep an eye on your decision-making Alvin!!!
Philip Shaw, Cheltenham, UK
Shame on you Alvin. There are a host of many influential and powerful women here in Africa. Madonna may be a good performer (dancing naked on stage). Oprah may be a good talk show host, but who cares. They have done nothing to change my way of looking at the world. My mum did. Cheerio
It's a "no brainer"... OPRAH! Oprah has always tried to do the right thing. Madonna has always done what is best for her. Oprah is empathetic, caring, supportive of the younger generation. Oprah has never been accused of being exploitive. Why are you Brits confused? DUH!
Maureen , Florida, USA
Comparing Oprah and Madonna. My God, both are as different as chalk and cheese. What ever Madonna does she does it for her own selfish reasons, but Oprah with her charitable organizations uplifting of the down-trodden all over the world, has been an inspiration for every human being. We have seen her charitable organisations even in India. She makes every women feel like a phenomenal women. Nothing is done to shock the world as Madonna does. Every word she utters has a direct meaning for some soul in the universe.
Geetha , Darmstadt, Germany
Undoubtedly the 'world' includes Far East. Madonna is quite popular and famous in this area, but few people know who is Oprah.
Ling Qin, Harrow, London
Madonna is the most famous woman in the world, not to mention the most powerful in my opinion for many reasons. Oprah is very powerful too, but Madonna seems to reach mainstream across the globe like no other!
According to MTV, Madonna has sold over 200 million units worldwide! Guinness Book of World Records lists Madonna as the most successful female recording artist (living or dead). Madonna has also become a #1 best selling author. Madonna owns and operates her own record label, Maverick
Madonna's wealth is closer to $700m than the reported $365m. Reports about her wealth vary from programme to programme, but once all is considered, including personal wealth, real estate, and her Maverick studios, Madonna just may be a billionaire herself... if not today, then very shortly in time!
Tommy M, Fort Lauderdale, FL (USA)
Chris Parker, Mexico D.F.
I can't believe there are still people alive asking: "Who will know who Madonna is in ten years time?" They asked this in the 80s, 90s and we are now in the year 2003, still discussing the very same woman and people are still asking who will discuss her in 10 years time. Ha! The very same people like you, my friend.
All this talk about re-invention - Madonna simply evolved. I am not who I was in the 60s or 70s. Why should I expect a person in the public eye to remain the same? Did Jackie Kennedy keep wearing those funny hats till her latter years? No, she did not. People change and Madonna's evolution is simply more documented because of the business she is in. What is more impressive is the changing of her musical styles and her variety in music - plus her resilience in challenging herself and doing things in spite of and despite the critics. That in itself is an inspiration to women the world over to go on and do what they want, no matter what anyone says.
We will still be talking about Madonna for generations to come simply because she is Madonna. I think it's time people get used to it and stop disparaging the woman. You haven't driven her away in 20 years. It's too late to try now. She wrote the books for altruistic reasons and it shows how cynical this world is when people cannot put away their dislike for a person and even attack the good the person does. Now, you are wondering why she is wearing berets? I don't think this is the forum for you, Rehan. This is the BBC. It's not an Anti-Madonna website.
Kiki Nsanze, London, England
What does Oprah have to say? I quote " Every woman must own a Donna Karan dress in her wardrobe". This was while she had DK on her show. She has guests on her show and talks about books and psychological problems. All chat show hosts do the same. Oprah is a cut above because she is the most powerful chat show hostess. Oprah is a chat show hostess who uses her fame and power to do good. Madonna is a musician whose lyrics also include "If I live to tell the story, I have learned, till then, it will burn inside of me" to pick a lyric from one of her songs and then say she is not a great lyricist is the most uninformed comment I have ever come across. You would do well to look over her body of work and the lyrics they contain. She has used her songs to say something throughout her career. People from all ages can identify with one or another of Madonna's songs. My mother is 67 and loves Madonna so do not generalise by saying she would not appeal to people under 50.
Oprah appeals to all ages just as all chat show hosts do. It does not make her unique. It comes with her job description - chat show host. Like a previous poster has said, its a shame the show only focused on Madonna's entertainment qualities. Her works for Aids, cancer, disadvantaged children (donated handwritten lyrics of "Little Star" to a charity) and donating 100,000 copies of her new kiddies books to schools all over America. She does far more than just sing and dance.
At the end of the day, the show is not about who you like, it's about who is the more powerful celebrity. If I go to Australia or Africa or anywhere in the world and say "Oprah is attending X charity gala, please donate to attend, Madonna is attending Y charity gala, please donate to attend", we all know that Madonna's charity will come up with the most cash. THAT is power and Alvin knows precisely what he is talking about.
Karen Kenton, Nigeria
Madonna does so deserve to win this! She is a global icon and her music, videos and messages do reach by far more people than Oprah's message. Just look at how much attention is paid to Madonna whenever she decides to make a statement, whether it's about the war in Iraq or sex, about Aids or teens pregnancy. She dares to speak her mind, and finally after all these years, she gets the recognition she deserves
The only thing I can tell everyone is that in the world, Madonna is by far the most powerful, just because outside USA Oprah is absolutely unknown. Here in South America, nobody knows who Oprah is, but anyone knows Madonna and admires her.
Milton Echave, Montevideo, Uruguay
Yes, Madonna is the most powerful of the two. I wouldn't say she's the world's most powerful woman because I think that probably goes to someone like The Queen, Condoleezza Rice, or Hillary Clinton. However, Madonna is very famous the world over, whereas I don't think Oprah is. She is well known, but not as big as Madonna outside of America. Not by a long chalk.
Steve Fricker, Southampton, UK
With Oprah's law, how can Madonna win??? Come on Alvin - get real.
Danny Campbell-Hawes, visiting UK from South Africa
Great prog. Lookin 4ward 2 the Beckham and Tiger one that's coming up.
Lynda Berry, Cheshire
Madonna may seem more powerful than Oprah to those of you in the UK because that is where she lives. Oprah is much more powerful. Look at all the good she has done through charities and through her angel network. Oprah not only is a TV personality but also runs her magazine with a wide appeal. I doubt Madonna could do the same.
Madonna has changed the way women are seen, done more for feminism than any bra-burning hippy and resides up there with Cleopatra and Medusa as one of the most famous women in human existence.
As for Alvin, he deserves his own chat show. He is the male Oprah!
James Braby, London, UK
The questions asks "the world's most''. Try asking anyone in Asia - you will find Oprah is relatively unknown. But you can bet most people know who Madonna is. I
Compliments on this fascinating series. To be honest, I did not want to get involved in agreeing or disagreeing with Alvin Hall but I got dragged into it (and thought Oprah should have won due to her ability to overcome her background difficulties).
Rakesh Sharma, Leicester
I thoroughly enjoyed this programme and really look forward to the others - especially the last one about Woods and Becks. I like what Alvin Hall does and the way he does it; but how will he be able to get experts to help us decide about Woods and Becks? That's a big ask! If he does that then I shall be extremely impressed. By the way, I disagreed with him and have voted for Oprah.
James Morris, Nofolk
I thought the show was excellent. It was great to see two powerful women go head to head. For me, Madonna is the great icon and an inspiration to many young woman like myself. Looking forward to the next couple of episodes.
Sandra , London
I do agree that Madonna is one of the World's most powerful celebrities. Oprah is a good contender, but as Alvin pointed out, Madonna has the ability to adapt to the changing world around her. Oprah has only stuck to one genre.
Matt, Worcester, England
Shame we hardly hear from Oprah these days. She isn't on our screens during peak time, whereas Madonna is everywhere and usually pictured doing whatever she wants. Oprah has more important things to say than Madonna; unfortunately she is not as photogenic. That gives Madonna her ultimate power.
I guess more to the point, who cares? Neither have the power to increase my taxes, start wars, or fine me for speeding.
Richard, Wellington, New Zealand
Madonna may well be the most commercially successful (and stupendously so), but who really will know who she is in ten years' time? Using one's position to alter law, as Oprah did, is a far more impressive legacy.
There is no debate. Alvin is spot on. Oprah's power is American based. Madonna on the other hand is seen as a global icon. This is why Alvin is accurate in his decision because the name of the show is WORLD'S most powerful celebrity.
Eliza Luston, London, England
I thoroughly enjoyed this edition of the world's most powerful celebrity. Many thanks BBC & Alvin Hall for making my evening. I think Oprah has been selfless in making a positive impact in the lives of many. She is my greatest icon and I have bought every single magazine that has her on the cover! Thanks again for inspiring us ladies with this lovely programme.
Pam Udolisa, Finchley, London, UK
Oprah has to be the most powerful celebrity simply because of the scope of people she appeals to.
I think Oprah beats Madonna hands down. To lobby and have a law passed to protect children without thinking of financial benefit is just supreme.
I absolutely agree with Alvin, though I do admire Oprah as well.
Ana Cobas, Reading UK
Great show and I agree Madonna won hands down but having the endorsements section just focussing on Madonna and ale was a bit silly. What about all the relentless campaigning Madonna does for Aids research and Aids sufferers ?
Steve Toole, London
World's Most Powerful: Oprah v Madonna was broadcast on
Thursday 27 November 2003 at 2150 GMT on BBC Two