The True Story Behind Netflix’s ‘Scoop’

How close does Netflix's dramatization come to the real thing?
Scoop Netflix

There’s been significant buzz around Netflix’s new film, Scoop.

The film is a dramatization of one of the most infamous royal interviews of all time—Prince Andrew talking about his friendship with convicted sex offender and trafficker, Jeffrey Epstein.

Written by Peter Moffat and directed by Philip Martin, the film is based on the book, Scoops, by Sam McAlister, which chronicles her career as a talent booker.

The Netflix film covers the events leading to the conversation between Prince Andrew and journalist Emily Maitlis, as well as the infamous conversation itself.

Below, we share how accurate Netlix’s Scoop really is.

What Happened In The Real Interview?

The real interview took place at Buckingham Palace in 2019, when Prince Andrew sat down with BBC journalist Emily Maitlis for an hour long conversation.

The interview saw Prince Andrew speak about why he finally decided to do a tell-all, his friendship with Epstein and the accusations by Virginia Giuffre (née Roberts).

The interview wasn’t just significant because it was so rare for a royal to speak out about controversies but also because of the way Prince Andrew tried to defend his relationship with Epstein and his reluctance to express any empathy for Epstein’s victims.

You can watch the real interview below or read the transcript here.

How Did The BBC Newsnight Get The Interview?

The Netflix film was right in its depiction of the secrecy around the interview—a very small amount of BBC staffers knew the interview was happening.

“We’d agreed to keep the negotiations in a very small circle of trust,” McAlister explained in her book. “It was crucial that other programmes or outlets didn’t know how close we were, and we knew that any foolish indiscretion or leak would ruin our chances.”

In that circle included McAlister herself (played by Billie Piper), Newsnight anchor Emily Maitlis (played by Gillian Anderson), Newsnight editor Esme Wren (Romola Garai), Newsnight deputy editor, Stewart Maclean (played by Richard Goulding), Newnight deputy editor Verity Murphy, BBC director of news Fran Unsworth (played by Lia Williams) and BBC Director-General Tony Hall (played by Andrew MacBean).

Newsnight’s McAlister, Maitlis, and Maclean, Prince Andrew’s private secretary Amanda Thirsk and his eldest daughter, Princess Beatrice attended a meeting prior to the interview.

However, unlike in the film, it took McAlister 13 months to build a relationship with Thirsk to receive the final yes.

How Do The Netflix Actors Compare To Their Real Life Counterparts?

Emily Maitlis and Gillian Anderson.
Gillian Anderson and Emily Maitlis. (Credit: Netflix/Getty)

Gillian Anderson and Emily Maitlis

Prince Andrew and Rufus Sewell
Rufus Sewell and Prince Andrew. (Credit: Netflix/Getty)

Rufus Sewell and Prince Andrew

Billie Piper as Sam McAlister
Billie Piper and Sam McAlister. (Credit: Netflix/Getty)

Billie Piper and Sam McAlister

Keeley Hawes as Amanda Thirsk
Keeley Hawes and Amanda Thirsk. (Credit: Netflix/Getty)

Keeley Hawes as Amanda Thirsk

Romola Garai and Esme Wren.
Romola Garai and Esme Wren. (Credit: Netflix/Getty)

Romola Garai and Esme Wren

What Happened After The Interview?

Prince Andrew believed the interview had gone well, with McAlister writing about the Prince’s surprising reaction in her book.

“I could barely believe his people hadn’t stopped the interview. I would have, despite the consequences. ‘How did you think it went?’ I asked the equerry. She beamed. ‘Wasn’t he wonderful!’ she said,” McAlister explained in her book.

“I’d expected Amanda Thirsk to be distraught, the Prince to look shaken or concerned, but she was smiling, and he seemed ebullient. And then it hit me: he thought it had gone well. He was in such a good mood that he offered us all a tour of the palace.” 

However, in the days after the interview, Prince Andrew announced he would be stepping down from public duties.

 “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support,” he wrote. Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission,” he said in a statement.

Following a civil suit filed in 2021 by Giuffre, Andrew’s military titles and patronages were revoked in 2022.

“With The Queen’s approval and agreement, The Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to The Queen,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement. “The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

Then, in February 2022, Prince Andrew and Giuffre came to a settlement for an undisclosed amount.

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