The last time Oprah Winfrey sat down with royalty, the aftershocks rumbled on for weeks. But hopes that Queen of the Dinner Party Ballad Adele would deliver a Harry and Meghan-style dynamite interview when she settled into one of Oprah’s wicker chairs for her widely-anticipated TV special were quickly dashed. Adele, it was clear, had come to sing, not spill the juice on her divorce from charity executive Simon Konecki, her weight loss or her struggles with fame.
And so, if Adele: One Night Only was a treat for fans of hairdryer angst, as an A-lister interrogation it underwhelmed. The two-hour special, broadcast on America’s CBS network, featured a concert by Adele at Los Angeles’s iconic Griffith Observatory, filmed in October. The live component was an opportunity for Adele to do what only she can – weave pop gold from angst, heartbreak and the suspicion she might be drowning her woes in a tad too much vino. (The CBS broadcast is followed by an ITV one-off, An Audience With Adele, to be broadcast on Sunday November 21.)
These clips were exquisite, with a picture-perfect LA sunset providing a stark contrast with the woe bubbling up through songs from Adele’s new album 30 (you probably haven’t heard, but apparently it’s released later this week). Watching her was a select audience of some of the world’s biggest celebrities, along with Gordon Ramsay. There was also a sweet if slightly toe-curling moment in which Adele surprised a woman who had been led to the Observatory so that her boyfriend could propose (ironic, given that Adele was largely singing about divorce and the death of love).
Back on Oprah’s wicker couch, Adele was more buttoned down. If she had studied the Duchess of Sussex’s tell-all natter with Winfrey, the lesson she had taken away was apparently that she should be careful not to overshare and trigger a constitutional crisis.
“I spent a lot of time sitting in my own feelings,” said Adele when asked by Oprah whether 30 was officially her “divorce” record. And while Adele still spoke like someone raised in Lambeth, her years in California have clearly had an impact. As Oprah brought the subject back to the decision to leave Konecki, Adele veered towards juice-bar philosophy, describing post-divorce life as a “process”.