Scoop: Netflix drama of Prince Andrew’s car-crash interview

Headshot of Wenlei Ma
Wenlei Ma
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew in Scoop on Netflix.
Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew in Scoop on Netflix. Credit: Netflix

Was there anyone in the world who watched Prince Andrew’s infamous 2019 interview with BBC Newsnight and didn’t think that this was a man who lived completely in his own bubble?

His proclamations of “letting down the side” revealed the royal’s extraordinary blindspots – that putting mummy in a bad position was the big takeaway from his friendship with paedophile and convicted sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein. Not, apparently, all of the other bad things.

How was this “allowed” to happen from the palace side? Did they not realise that a man deluded about his own complicity should not front a news crew? Or were they so convinced of the righteousness of the monarchy mission?

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It’s like Richard Nixon’s “When the president does it, that means it’s not illegal”. Sometimes people of high status are so transfixed by the hubris of their “station”, they forget they walk among humans.

The Netflix film Scoop scratches at these questions but doesn’t delve deeply into issues around the power and structures that protected – and, to a large extent, continues to protect – Prince Andrew.

Scoop on Netflix
Scoop on Netflix Credit: Netflix

Instead, it’s a pacy and entertaining behind-the-scenes recounting of how the BBC Newsnight team secured the bombshell interview.

The story kicks off in 2010 when Prince Andrew (Rufus Sewell) is photographed with Epstein in New York City’s Central Park before time-jumping to 2019 when the royal moans about the fact that the image is still hanging around his neck like an albatross. He wants clear air for his other endeavours including a entrepreneurship program, Pitch@Palace.

Cut to the BBC where the organisation is under pressure in another round of job cuts. No one will be immune, including the news division’s flagship daily program, Newsnight. Producer and booker Sam McAlister (Billie Piper) seizes on a release from Prince Andrew’s private secretary Amanda (Keeley Hawes) about Pitch and uses it as an in to lobby for a no-questions-barred sit down with its host Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson).

Scoop goes through the events between that first meeting between Sam and Amanda, until the days after the interview airs when Prince Andrew steps back from royal duties. It’s a process story of Sam negotiates with the palace and the preparation involved in ensuring they had the right questions, could anticipate his responses and pivot when needed.

There are several moments when Scoop opens the door to wider issues – when Emily says if the interview fails, she will become the public scapegoat, or what does Newsnight stand for in 2019 – but doesn’t walk through. It’s a tease.

Scoop on Netflix
Scoop on Netflix Credit: Netflix

And then there’s the personal story in Scoop, which by virtue of the fact the film is based on McAlister’s book, is Sam trying to prove herself and her “tabloid” instincts to her snootier colleagues.

But even that doesn’t go very far, which is surprising considering how much British media is dominated by people from middle- and upper-class backgrounds and the effect that has on how it represents the nation.

It’s a bit like the revelations in the interview. Everyone was so baffled by Prince Andrew’s trip to the Pizza Express in Woking, and claims he had a medical condition that stopped him from sweating, that it became a distraction.

The titbits made him fool-of-the-week on social media and the memes were endless, but they upstaged the bigger story.

Scoop is diverting and agreeable for anyone who wants to see how the story came together or wants to relive the squirmier moments of that interview, but if you’re asking it to consider what it all means, it won’t give you that.

Rating: 3/5

Scoop is on Netflix on April 5

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