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Exclusive: Sam McAlister's joking response when quizzed over Buckingham Palace's reaction to Scoop

The former Newsnight producer spoke to HELLO! at the London premiere

Sam McAlister and Rufus Sewell split image
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
5 April 2024
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Sam McAlister shared her joking response when quizzed over whether Buckingham Palace had been in touch about Netflix's new film, Scoop

The drama is a fictionalisation of the BBC Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew in 2019, and gives an inside account of how the BBC journalists secured the bombshell meeting between the Duke of York and Emily Maitlis. 

Gillian Anderson and Rufus Sewell star in SCOOP© Netflix
Scoop fictionalises the BBC Newsnight interview with Prince Andrew

Whilst speaking to HELLO! on the red carpet at the film's London premiere, Sam, who was heavily involved in clinching the interview with the prince, was asked whether Buckingham Palace had made contact – and she had the best response. 

Laughing, she said: "I'm still waiting on my CBE but I'm not sure it's going to happen."

For those who don't know, Sam spent ten years at Newsnight, where she worked as a booker. The TV producer landed a number of high-profile interviews, including with Bill Clinton, Elon Musk, and most notably Prince Andrew. 

Sam McAlister at the 'Scoop' film premiere in London© Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock
Sam McAlister worked at Newsnight for ten years

The Netflix film is based on Sam's 2021 memoir, Scoops: Behind The Scenes of the BBC's Most Shocking Interview, and shines a spotlight on the journalists who "broke through the highest of ceilings – and into the inner sanctum and calculations of a man with everything to lose," according to the synopsis. 

Sam is played by Billie Piper in the drama, which also stars Gillian Anderson as Emily, Rufus Sewell as Andrew, and Keeley Hawes as Andrew's former private secretary Amanda Thirsk.

WATCH: Rufus Sewell speaks about playing the Duke of York in new film Scoop

On how she felt about being portrayed by Billie on-screen, Sam said: "I felt Billie had the essence of what I needed for an actress to have, which is a wonderful mix of hard work, resilience, but also such humanity. 

Billie Piper and Sam McAlister on the set of Scoop© PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX
Billie Piper and Sam McAlister on the set of Scoop

"She's so warm, she and I could clear a room with our laughs," she added.

On what she wants viewers to take away from the film, Sam, who spent a lot of time on the set, told us: "I hope they take away that journalism is a fantastic thing. It gets a bad rep, but when it works properly, all the hard work that goes into it can lead to one of these iconic moments – a scoop of the decade if not the century. It really matters."

The full synopsis reads: "Inspired by real events, Scoop is the inside account of the tenacious journalism that landed an earthshattering interview - Prince Andrew's infamous BBC Newsnight appearance. 

Rufus Sewell and Gillian Anderson star in SCOOP© Netflix
Rufus Sewell and Gillian Anderson star in the film

"From the tension of producer Sam McAlister's high stakes negotiations with Buckingham Palace, all the way to Emily Maitlis' jaw-dropping, forensic showdown with the Prince, Scoop takes us inside the story, with the women who would stop at nothing to get it. To get an interview this big, you have to be bold."

Scoop is available to stream on Netflix.

Reporting by Nichaela George. 

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