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Scoop star Sam McAlister reveals truth behind Amanda Thirsk losing job over Newsnight interview

Prince Andrew's private secretary made arrangements between the BBC and Buckingham Palace 

Sam McAlister and Amanda Thirsk
Millie Jackson
Freelance Writer
8 April 2024
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Sam McAlister, the former Newsnight producer and talent booker who was instrumental in arranging the infamous interview between Prince Andrew and Emily Maitlis, has revealed insights into her relationship with the Prince's private secretary, Amanda Thirsk.  

Speaking to Times Radio, Sam said Amanda was an "impressive woman" who she worked with for many months, negotiating back and forth as they worked to secure the interview. 

The Duke of York and Amanda Thirsk a few months before the documentary aired.© Getty
The Duke of York and Amanda Thirsk a few months before the documentary aired

In her book, Scoops, Sam writes: "I was so convinced that he wouldn't do it that I didn't even tell my boss. Instead, I showed up at Buckingham Palace in May 2019 to meet his then chief of staff, Amanda Thirsk, and did my best to persuade her that Prince Andrew should answer questions on the hot topics of the time." 

Sam and her team finally secured it, and the interview for BBC Newsnight was conducted in Buckingham Palace with the intention of clearing the Duke of York's name and restoring his reputation. Of course, it had the opposite effect, with anecdotes about the Prince's trip to Woking Pizza Express and his apparent medical inability to sweat going viral.  

The need for an interview arose when Prince Andrew's association with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein drew widespread criticism and he was accused of having underage sex with Virginia Guiffre when she was 17. 

In the interview, he said he had "no recollection" of meeting her despite a photo picturing them together in 2001. She sued him in 2021, and the Prince settled out of court with her in 2022. 

WATCH: A clip from the interview

Amanda lost her job in the enormous fallout from the interview that saw Prince Andrew step down from royal duties. "She was trying to do right by him. It's very poignant that she paid with her job," Sam told Times Radio

"But ultimately ,when you're second in command, or 22nd in command as my case was, if something goes wrong, you're the person who's going to take the fall. We understood the peril in the conversations that we were having." 

Billie Piper and Sam McAlister on the set of Scoop© Netflix
Billie Piper and Sam McAlister on the set of Scoop

The late Queen stripped her son of his HRH title and honorary military roles in 2022.  

Sam's character is played by Billie Piper, with the pair looking so similar that they were mistaken for each other on set. Sex Education star Gillian Anderson plays Emily Maitlis and Rufus Sewell plays Prince Andrew. 

Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew in Scoop
© Netflix
Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew in Scoop

Scoop is available to stream now. 

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