Scoop (2024)

Scoop Review


“It was a convenient place to stay.” Prince Andrew, BBC Newsnight interview, November 2019

It’s hard to believe that Prince Andrew willingly agreed to an interview with the BBC and even harder to believe he thought it went well! What kind of bubble must you live in to say “I don’t sweat” or “It was a convenient place to stay,” and then later think, “I nailed that!”? Well, we know what kind of bubble he lived in. The royal bubble is made of iron. But still Prince Andrew has a whole PR team behind him. These are people who live in the real world (one would assume) and understand how not to run into hazards. So why didn’t they stop this from happening? Why did Prince Andrew & Co. walk into that interview thinking it was a good idea? As Charlie Proctor, editor-in-chief of Royal Central, described the aftermath: “A plane crashing into an oil tanker causing a tsunami-triggering nuclear explosion level bad.” Scoop, directed by Philip Martin and based on the book Scoop: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Biggest Interviews by former Newsnight producer Peter Charman (under a pseudonym), shows us how.

Sam McAlister (Billie Piper) is a junior producer on BBC Newsnight, where she is known for booking guests no one else can get. She’s not like all those other serious-minded journalists at the BBC her hair is bleached blonde she wears tight leather clothes she runs in and out of rooms constantly. They look down on her there; she’s not “one of them.” (“Erin Brockovich” covers identical territory.)

Then Sam gets an idea: Maybe she could get Prince Andrew? He’s just started something called Pitch@Palace an “initiative” designed to foster young entrepreneurs (what it mostly seems designed for is giving disgraced businessmen something to put on their résumés). There’s an e-mail address a way in through the notoriously tight “palace.” So Sam gives it a shot. Eventually, she gets through to Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes), Prince Andrew’s top aide. And she’s intrigued, surprisingly Amanda is. But how to sell Andrew? How to sell Andrew’s mum? Sam and Amanda circle each other warily, never agreeing to anything, keeping their cards close. Everything changes when Epstein kills himself in August 2019.

The scoop is Sam’s for the asking now. She asks for Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson) specifically Maitlis being a BBC newsreader and journalist who floats above her colleagues’ concerns like some kind of avenging angel with a whippet on a leash. She could not be more different from Sam McAlister if they tried but as the interview grows real, the two women lean on one another Emily has skills that Sam does not possess, and vice versa. A powerful team is formed here indeed between them.

Amid the frantic backstage buzz at the BBC, we see Prince Andrew in his natural habitat and it is anything but picturesque. Rufus Sewell’s Andrew is a bully and a bit of a loser a “mummy’s boy” who vastly over-rates his own charisma. He can “work” a room, but he’s as thick as fog about everything else. Palace staff have horror stories about “working for” Andrew, and there’s an excruciating scene where he berates a terrified maid. Sewell’s resemblance to Andrew is at times uncanny, particularly the voice. It’s such a tinny royal voice, like air doesn’t flow freely over the vocal cords. Sewell captures Andrew’s combination of bewilderment and irritation coming from his sense of superiority his whole attitude is impatiently like When will people stop making such a fuss about this whole Epstein business?

There’s an energy to every scene in “Scoop,” with Sam pushing us forward as she stalks across lobbies and down hallways in her thigh-high boots. Presenting the entire BBC news organization as dullards without any good ideas is probably very unfair, but this is, after all, an underdog story: Sam, the booking agent nobody takes seriously, got the interview of the century. (In its own sly way, it’s also a tribute to producers.)

The interview itself is shown almost in full Anderson and Sewell perfectly capture its uniquely strange and tense atmosphere. But this time we get to see the people behind the camera their expressions when they realize how badly it’s going. McAlister writes in her book that she was looking around at everybody else shocked at what was coming out of the Prince’s mouth. Did he just say “I don’t sweat”? Did that happen?

The events in “Scoop” are from just weeks ago; we’ve all seen the interview, so there may be no surprises here. The interest comes in the details. There’s a small moment when Sam takes the bus home, exhausted, and looks at a group of teenage girls sitting at the front, laughing and chattering loudly. A look comes over Sam’s face thoughtful, sad, worried. It’s obvious what she’s thinking. Epstein’s victims were that age. “Scoop” is so focused on “getting the story” that sometimes it’s easy to forget what the story actually is. The real story isn’t about some embarrassing interview given by a disgraced Prince it’s about the elite preying on the weak. “Scoop” doesn’t use dialogue to get this across; it’s all right there on Piper’s face as she looks at those carefree teenage girls.

Watch Scoop For Free On Gomovies.

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