The true story behind the Netflix movie Scoop, a ‘catastrophic’ publicity event for the royal family.

From one royal scandal to another, Netflix has released a spicy movie about a TV interview that would taint the royal family forever. 

If we cast our minds back to pre-pandemic times in 2019, Prince Andrew agreed to do an interview with BBC news program Newsnight where he discussed his rumoured tight friendship with convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who had just been found dead in his jail cell. 

The interview was a disaster. And that's putting it lightly. 

And now the lead-up to securing Prince Andrew's participation in the interview, and the fallout, will be brought to life in Netflix movie, Scoop

In the film, Newsnight's booker Sam McAlister is played by Billie Piper, journalist Emily Maitlis is portrayed by Gillian Anderson, editor Esme Wren by Romola Garai, and Prince Andrew is played by Rufus Sewell, who possesses a striking likeness to the disgraced royal. 

Watch the trailer below. Post continues below.

Video via Netflix.

The movie is based on McAlister's book, Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the Most Shocking Interviews.

This is everything we know about the real story that inspired Netflix's Scoop


The true story behind Scoop on Netflix.

The story is centred around Prince Andrew, who is eighth in line to the throne as the late Queen Elizabeth II's third child and King Charles's younger brother. Before his controversial connection to Epstein, Andrew was most known for his marriage to ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and their daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice.

But in 2014, a Florida court filing implicated Prince Andrew, along with several high-profile men, as having sexual interactions with Australian American woman Virginia Giuffre, who was a minor at the time. This allegation came on the tail of other revelations included in a defamation trial that alleged Prince Andrew had attended Epstein's property and been spotted with young women.

By 2015, the palace was forced to address the mounting allegations. "Any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors is categorically untrue," a palace spokesperson said.

But the rumours and allegations persisted, prompting McAlister to reach out requesting a TV interview between Newsnight and Andrew in response to a press release. However, the response was a solid "no".

McAlister was a former criminal barrister before she carved an uncompromising reputation as a gun TV producer.

Sam McAlister is portrayed by Billie Piper in Scoop. Image: Netflix. 


Then six months later, Prince Andrew's private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, suddenly said the royal was interested but would only participate under the condition that Epstein would not be discussed. 

In response, Newsnight declined the interview.

In 2019, the royal agreed to do the interview without conditions after Epstein was arrested and then found deceased. "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.

However, securing the interview was only one piece of the puzzle. During negotiations, Andrew brought his daughter Princess Beatrice along as his advisor, who was played in the film adaption by The Great's Charity Wakefield. 

"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 later wrote.


Then there was lining up the interview itself, which would be conducted by career journalist Emily Maitlis, a mainstay of the BBC since 2005. Maitlis became the lead anchor for Newsnight in 2018. 

Throughout the interview, Maitlis was praised for her firm but fair approach to Prince Andrew, who reportedly left the exchange pleased with the interview.

But he was very, very wrong.

Prince Andrew's disastrous interview. Image: BBC. 


The TV moment would become known as the catalyst of Prince Andrew's downfall and the most catastrophic car-crash interview of his life. Airing on November 16, 2019, the episode was watched by 1.7 million viewers who tuned in to witness Prine Andrew painfully stumble question after question. 

"I don't think anyone envisaged that the answers would be as bad as they were," McAlister reflected to the ABC in 2022. 

Some of Andrew's worst moments included denying a description of him sweating a lot because he claimed he had "lost the ability to sweat" after the war. He also confirmed a friendship with Epstein while making several contradictory statements. In another part, he defended sleeping at Epstein's mansion for three days in 2010 because "it was a convenient place to stay."

What happened to Prince Andrew after the BBC interview?

The interview had severe consequences for Prince Andrew and did irrevocable damage to the royal family's reputation. Four days after the broadcast, Buckingham Palace announced that "for the foreseeable future" Prince Andrew would be stepping away from all royal duties. 

And then in January 2022 during Giuffre's sexual assault lawsuit against Prince Andrew, Queen Elizabeth stripped Prince Andrew of his royal and military titles. Meanwhile, journalist Maitlis won the award for Network Presenter of the Year at the 2020 RTS Television Journalism Awards. 

Scoop can be streamed now on Netflix.

Feature Image: Netflix. 

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