SCOOP – Review by Liz Braun

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Prince Andrew is a prat and his handlers were fools to let him do that interview about Jeffrey Epstein with BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis.

That’s the main take-away in Scoop, a new Netflix feature that recreates the infamous 2019 interview that went so badly for the buffoonish prince that it altered his public role forever. Andrew came off as an entitled blowhard and the Epstein scandal just got bigger.

Directed by Philip Martin, Scoop stars Gillian Anderson as journalist Emily Maitlis and the ever-underrated Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew; Sewell portrays Andrew with cruel accuracy here.

But the story focuses on BBC producer Samantha McAlister (played by Billie Piper) and her underdog role in securing the interview. McAlister worked behind the scenes with the palace and with Andrew’s senior staffer Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes) to get the prince to agree to the interview; Scoop is based on McAlister’s memoir, Scoops, and was adapted by Geoff Bussetil and Peter Moffat.

According to Scoop, McAlister’s pursuit of the prince and this story were initially dismissed as too downmarket and “Daily Mail” by her colleagues at the BBC. Nonetheless, Scoop shows McAlister persevering — finding out more about Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell and the adolescents they are accused of trafficking to the rich and famous, even as she gets the palace onside.

Her hard work pays off. The palace says yes to the interview.

The action then swings into the intense preparations for that interview, none of which is particularly gripping. Scoop fails to capture any real behind-the-scenes intensity in news gathering and seems to suggest that petty bickering and class one-upmanship are the norm.

The real puzzle here is why this bit of royal family lore is getting two recreations: the second (and upcoming) titled A Very Royal Scandal, stars Michael Sheen as Prince Andrew and Ruth Wilson as Emily Maitlis; Clare Calbraith plays Sam McAlister.

As an alternative, one could just watch the actual interview online to see the PR disaster in question as it unfolded in real life. What jolly fun

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Liz Braun

Liz Braun has contributed entertainment stories in print and on radio and TV in Canada for 30 years. She served as film critic for the Toronto Sun and for the Postmedia chain of newspapers.