Netflix Sweats The Details In ‘Scoop’, A Clever Drama About Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein

By Lori Meek
Published: April 6, 2024 (Last updated: last month)
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Scoop (2024) Review - Gripping Behind-The-Scenes Netflix Drama
Scoop (2024) | Image via Netflix
3.5

Summary

This feature is like a trainwreck — you know what you’re looking at and where it’s going, but you still can’t avert your gaze

In November of 2019, you couldn’t open a single news site or social media platform without stumbling across the year’s biggest story: The exclusive Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew that forever changed the meaning of Pizza Express and damaged his reputation beyond repair. Netflix’s Scoop is the first of two dramatizations of the events leading up to the famed TV moment to premiere in 2024 (the second is Prime Video’s upcoming miniseries A Very Royal Scandal).

Set and filmed in London and featuring an all-star cast, the movie is an adaptation of the nonfiction book Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews by former BBC producer, Sam McAlister.

The movie starts in 2009, in New York, when photographer Jae Donnelly (played by Sex Education’s Connor Swindells) snaps a shot of Prince Andrew with Jeffrey Epstein. The photo shows that His Royal Highness continued his friendship with Epstein even after he was convicted in 2006 for sex crimes. Donelly has been staking out Epstein’s house and noted the stream of underaged girls coming in and out

We then cut to 2019, when Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson) and her tough producer Sam McAlister (Billie Piper) are working to secure an interview with the Prince. The film centers on Sam’s efforts to negotiate with Buckingham Palace, specifically with the prince’s loyal secretary Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes), and get the scoop for the now-infamous interview about Prince Andrew’s friendship with the convicted sex offender. 

The film’s focus is mostly on how Sam McAlister cleverly got the royal to agree to the damning interview. When she starts chasing the story, no one on her team is interested. But as soon as Epstein gets arrested for sex trafficking, Sam’s work becomes a top priority for her and her colleagues. By the time the interview happens, Epstein’s numerous crimes are out in the open and his in-prison demise is constantly making the headlines.

In real life, that interview obliterated the prince’s public image and led to Queen Elizabeth II firing him from all royal duties. The movie’s dramatized behind-the-scenes version of the events feels like a Billie Piper-led pat on the back for the woman who made the magic happen. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, Piper is an excellent actress whose portrayal almost adds a layer of mythical heroism to McAlister.  

Scoop is a well-presented drama that re-lights the spotlight on events still embedded in recent public consciousness. Gillian Anderson and Billie Piper do a brilliant job and add depth of character to the journalists they’re portraying. Rufus Sewell’s approach to the prince’s character adds much-needed comic relief to what’s arguably a serious biopic. The dramatized ins and outs of getting the titular scoop make for a rather gripping viewing experience. 

Regardless of how familiar you are with the Epstein scandal and the events portrayed in Scoop, the film is worth watching on its own merits. That’s partly thanks to a clever script, good pacing, and fantastic performances.  

Check out my in-depth thoughts on the ending of Scoop (2024) for more on how Prince Andrew’s downfall came about.

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