A riveting interview between Prince Andrew and BBC Newsnight is recreated -but does this film ultimately tell us anything new?

The 2019 BBC Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew was the trigger for the prince losing his position in Royal duties.

Such was the damage of this trainwreck interview that he lost whatever opportunity he had to salvage his reputation.

“An hour of television can change everything. It’s like magic,” says seasoned news anchor Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson).

Yet for Newsnight editor Sam McAlister (Billie Piper) there was a risk of the opposite happening. What if the interview was a dud? Or worse, what if it made BBC the headline instead of the prince?

Scoop, a new Netflix film with a knockout cast, dramatises how BBC secured the interview and pulled off the “scoop of the decade.”

Billie Piper is the central character as the ambitious editor seeking to make her mark in the pressure of the newsroom.

The ricochet of convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein and allegations of Andrew’s sexual assault of a minor will prove to be her big shot. The revelations land in her lap courtesy of paparazzo Jae Donnelly (Connor Swindells) but convincing the Prince’s trusted aide Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes) to go on the record is like Ahab chasing a white whale.

Ready for the job at hand she has journalist Emily Maitlis (Anderson), whose power at the BBC is such that her pet whippet follows her everywhere without anybody questioning it.

Prince Andrew (Rufus Sewell) is deeply suspicious of the press, but the headlines are so bad that it’s enough to tear him away from his teddy bears and daughter Beatrice (Charity Wakefield) to agree to the sit down interview.

“It’s like a western,” remarks Emily upon learning of the Palace’s instructions for two chairs in a mostly-bare room for the big interview.

Gillian Anderson, as the ice blue Emily, really gets all the best lines in the script by Samantha McAlister, Peter Moffat and Geoff Bussetil.

Billie Piper delivers the emotion as McAlister… nervous, determined, passionate… with Amanda Redman as her mother.

Rufus Sewell is pitch perfect as Prince Andrew, convinced of his innocence, yet rudderless to control a growing scandal about his behaviour. Truth is stranger than fiction with his insipid responses and answers devoid of any responsibility, more compelling than anything a scriptwriter could concoct.

The interview between Emily and the Prince is the most riveting chapter of this movie, directed by Philip Martin.

Yet for all the marvellous recreation, particularly at Buckingham Palace, I found the film slim in telling me anything particularly new. We all know the outcome. Is securing the interview enough of a story for a satisfying drama? Thank goodness the top notch cast brig their all to the script.

Scoop is now screening on Netflix.

2 Responses

  1. Enough of The Royals….while the media, the Royal “gossips” and anyone else invested are making a nice tidy living off them…at least they are leaving some other poor bugger alone….just move on …in all honesty who really cares?…there are more important things happening in the world now the money, time, and effort could be put to better use on instead of rehashing something that’s happened 5 years ago….but I’ve no doubt those who fall for this type of garbage are going to lap it up.

  2. Politically emotive shows can risk polarising its audience, but the enigmatic gloss has tarnished on British Royalty since Her Majesty the Queen passed away so American audiences (which Netflix would be interested in) may still have enough curiosity for the controversial theme of this show. ‘Scoop’ does make me wonder why the makers of ‘The Crown’ series have not considered producing these type of supplementary stories about the ‘ British Royals’ themselves. What could go wrong?.

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