Is Scoop a true story? What to know about the Netflix movie about Prince Andrew on Newsnight

Is Scoop a true story? What to know about the Netflix movie about Prince Andrew on Newsnight
  • PublishedApril 4, 2024

As last month’s health news about Princess Kate shows, intense media scrutiny and the royal family go hand in hand.

Sometimes it’s a toxic sideshow, and sometimes it leads to a bombshell that rocks the royal family’s foundations.

For instance, in 2019, as rumours of Prince Andrew’s close friendship with convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein swirled, the prince conducted an interview with a BBC news program that would change the modern royal family forever.

Now the Newsnight scandal is coming to the silver screen with the release of new Netflix movie, Scoop.

Who is Prince Andrew?

He’s Queen Elizabeth II’s third child and Charles’s younger brother. He was born second in line to the throne and is now bumped down to eighth, thanks to William, Harry, and their children.

You might be familiar with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson (a victim of the Murdoch phone-hacking scandal) or their daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice (of the famous royal wedding hats).

A man in a three piece suit with tails walks with his daughter in a teal formal dress with mesh sleeves
Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Princess Beatrice at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018.(Reuters: Chris Jackson/Pool)

By the 10s, Prince Andrew faced mounting scrutiny over his relationship to convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. In 2014, a Florida court filing implicated Prince Andrew as one of several high-profile men who had sexual interactions with a then-minor, later revealed to be Australian American woman Virginia Giuffre.

The noise around Andrew got so loud that, in 2015, the palace spoke up. “Any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors is categorically untrue,” a palace spokesperson said.

Four years later, amid ongoing rumours and allegations detailed in court documents, Prince Andrew agreed to speak publicly on the issue in an interview with BBC program Newsnight.

With 1.7 million Britons watching on, Prince Andrew vehemently denied ever meeting Giuffre (he said he was at a Pizza Express for his daughter’s birthday). He added that her description of him sweating profusely was false because he “lost the ability to sweat” is a war accident. He also admitted that he slept at Epstein’s mansion for three days in 2010, simply because “it was a convenient place to stay”.

The interview was poorly received by the press and the public. Four days after the broadcast, Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Andrew would be stepping down from all royal duties “for the foreseeable future”.

In January 2022, Prince Andrew was stripped of his military affiliation and royal patronages. A month later he settled a civil suit brought by Giuffre for an undisclosed amount of money.

What is Scoop about?

While there was fallout from the Newsnight interview for the royal family, Scoop is less concerned with that than the real-life women who battled with the palace to land the groundbreaking interview with Prince Andrew.

There’s Sam McAlister (Billie Piper) the Newsnight interview booker, editor Esme Wren (Romola Garai), and journalist Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson).

A woman with short blond hair in a gray jacket sits in front of a cabinet.
Piper said Anderson “absolutely nailed” her role of BBC journalist Emily Maitlis.(Supplied: Netflix)

In the Netflix movie, we follow McAlister, Wren and Maitlis from initial rejections to tense negotiations with Prince Andrew’s private secretary Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes); from many hours of laborious research to the interview itself.

“The interview is so significant, but it’s 5 per cent of the story,” McAlister (the real one) told Netflix.

“What we do is we take you on the journey to how this all began.”

A blond woman in a black jacket sits in front of computer screens
Billie Piper plays BBC interview booker Sam McAlister in Scoop, which is based on the real-life McAlister’s memoir.(Supplied: Netflix)

How true to life is Scoop?

We don’t know yet! But we do know that it’s based on McAlister’s book, Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the Most Shocking Interviews.

A former criminal barrister, McAlister already had a reputation as a tenacious TV producer before she secured the Prince Andrew interview. Scoop will focus on the months of scut work McAlister and her team undertook before getting access to Prince Andrew.

It all started innocently enough, with McAlister requesting a TV interview with Andrew in response to an innocuous press release about his business initiative Pitch@Palace.

The response was a resounding “no”.

Six months later, Prince Andrew’s private secretary got in touch to say that the prince was now interested in being interviewed but under no circumstances would he comment on the Epstein situation. Newsnight originally declined the interview.

“Eight weeks later, Jeffrey Epstein was arrested. Twelve weeks later, he was dead. Twenty weeks later, I had managed to persuade Amanda Thirsk that Prince Andrew’s position – of silence in the face of global scrutiny — was untenable,” McAlister wrote in her book.

Another curveball was thrown at the Newsnight team when Andrew revealed he had brought an advisor to the negotiation table — his daughter Princess Beatrice.

“Now the only thing worse than negotiating with a member of the Royal Family about allegations of sexual impropriety, is doing so in front of his daughter,” McAlister wrote.

Princess Beatrice will appear in Scoop, played by Charity Wakefield (The Great).

Princess Beatrice, Prince Andrew in Scoop
Charity Wakefield (far right) as Princess Beatrice in Scoop, next to Rufus Sewell (Prince Andrew) and Keeley Hawes (Andrew’s private secretary Amanda Thirsk).(Supplied: Netflix)

McAlister was on the set of Scoop when they re-enacted the infamous interview. She told Netflix she found it eerily similar to real life.

“The level of detail, putting together exactly the same room, the camera angles, the lighting, the specifics of the table, the cables, the types of cameras, the carpet — everything is so ridiculously close,’ she said.

“It was like being there again


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *