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Scoop fact vs fiction: Prince Andrew's teddies, Queen's hair comb and more

How much truth is in the film?

Scoop Fact vs Fiction cover image
Emmy Griffiths
TV & Film Editor
Updated: 12 April 2024
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Netflix’s new movie Scoop has been a fascinating insight into what went into landing the now-infamous interview with Prince Andrew, which ultimately led to the suspension of the Duke's royal duties. But how much of the film, which includes a disclaimer that “certain elements have been fictionalised for dramatic purposes,” is true? Here’s the ultimate fact vs fiction guide for watching the show…

Jae Donnelly snapped the photos of Jeffrey Epstein and Prince Andrew in Central Park


The movie opened with photojournalist Jae Donnelly, played by Connor Swindells, going to some lengths (and getting very out of breath) to take the now-infamous shots of Prince Andrew taking a walk in Central Park with Jeffrey Epstein. Jae, who is still a photojournalist, did indeed take the snap which confirmed once and for all that the pair knew one another, and that Andrew had seen the convicted sex offender after he had spent 13 months in prison on child sex charges. 

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell at Ghislaine Maxwell's townhouse in London, Britain on March 13 2001© Shutterstock
Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts, aged 17, and Ghislaine Maxwell at Ghislaine Maxwell's townhouse in London, Britain on March 13 2001

Jae was in contact with Sam McAlister


While in the movie, Jae is the one to help tip off Sam about the breaking news that Epstein had been arrested, leading her to be the first person at Andrew’s personal aide Amanda Thirsk’s door, there is no evidence to suggest that this actually happened in real life. 

Sam McAlister at the 'Scoop' film premiere in London© Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock
Sam McAlister at the 'Scoop' film premiere in London

Andrew’s people reached out to Newsnight first


Andrew’s team did initially reach out to Newsnight about a potential interview. However they were hoping that they would strictly discuss questions about Pitch@Palace, and the BBC show turned them down, telling them that they would need to be able to ask questions about Andrew’s relationship with Epstein. 

As Sam McAlister wrote in a piece for Radio Times: “It started, innocently enough, with an email in my inbox from a PR inviting us to do a ‘puff piece’ […]  We declined that offer. We don’t do those at Newsnight. And then, a few months later, came an invitation to the Palace to meet Amanda… But there was a red line – no questions about Jeffrey Epstein. And so, even though at that stage (May 2019) it wasn’t the huge story that it became, we declined again. No interview.” It wasn’t until Epstein was arrested that Andrew’s team finally relented in allowing the interview to go ahead. 

The Duke of York and Amanda Thirsk a few months before the documentary aired.© Yui Mok - PA Images
The Duke of York with his aide Amanda Thirsk

The palace budgets extra for teaspoons


In a comment to Sam in the movie, Amanda jokes that the Palace has an extra budget for teaspoons, as guests tend to steal them as a memento that they have been there. She says: “They just seem to go. It’s seen as a good thing. It means everybody wants a part of us… The day we don’t need to budget for extra teaspoons…” 

Although this sounds perfectly plausible, there isn’t any official word on the teaspoon budget situation at the Palace. Be warned though, if you ever step foot in the building, chances are the staff know what you’re planning to take home with you! 

The White Drawing Room in Buckingham Palace© Alamy
Does Buckingham Palace expect you to steal a teaspoon?

Prince Andrew has a vast teddy bear collection


In the film, Andrew loses his patience with a member of the house staff (incidentally played by Kate Winslet’s daughter Mia Threapleton) over how she has arranged the teddy bears on his bed. If former testimonies are anything to go by, this is completely true.

Prince Andrew depicted in Scoop© Netflix
Prince Andrew surrounded by bears depicted in Scoop

Former royal protection officer Paul Page worked at Buckingham Palace from 1998 to 2004 and spoke about his love of teddy bears in the ITV documentary Ghislaine, Prince Andrew and the Paedophile back in 2022. He said: “There was a card in a drawer and it was a picture of these bears all in situ. The reason for the laminated picture was if those bears weren't put back in the right order by the maids, he would shout and scream."

WATCH: Prince Andrew’s real-life obsession with teddy bears depicted in Scoop

The Queen combed Prince Andrew’s hair before he left for boarding school 


In the movie, Andrew reflects on his mother, telling his aide: “The morning I went away to boarding school… Mummy combed my hair. It was one of those tortoiseshell combs. Remember those? I can feel it now, scraping across my head. It hurt, but I… But I didn’t want it to stop.” 

While it’s certainly possible that the late Queen did have a hands-on approach to caring for her second youngest son, it appears that this particular recollection of Prince Andrew’s was invented for the film. 

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew at the Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, 1973© Tim Graham
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Andrew at the Badminton Horse Trials in Gloucestershire, 1973

Andrew’s publicist quit over the planned interview


PR guru Jason Stein did walk away from his role on Prince Andrew’s team after advising him not to speak on Newsnight, but it wasn’t quite as dramatic as the movie depicts. According to The Times, the decision to leave was “by mutual consent”.

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

Princess Beatrice joined Andrew to meet the Newsnight team


In the movie, Andrew brings along his daughter, Princess Beatrice, who is seen making notes at their meeting with the Newsnight team. According to Sam, this is completely true, as she told Tatler: “A meeting at the Palace on Monday 11 November (with Andrew, Emily, the deputy editor and a surprise guest, Princess Beatrice). A ‘yes’ finally came on Tuesday. A date was set for Thursday. A panic of preparation ensued.”

Emily also spoke about the awkward moment in the 2023 documentary, Andrew: The Problem Prince. She said: “[Princess Beatrice’s presence] was really quite a curve ball of curve balls. Can you imagine being in Buckingham Palace about to talk to a member of the royal family about sexual offences? That’s pretty tricky. And now I’ve got to do it in front of his daughter.” 

Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice© Getty
Prince Andrew and Princess Beatrice at Royal Ascot

Andrew also knew Jimmy Savile

True (to an extent) 

Prince Andrew had had dealings with Jimmy Savile in the past, namely featuring on Jim’ll Fix It in 1994 after hosting one of the contestants on the HMS Cottesmore. However, despite that, it appears that they had very few dealings, and that the line “I don’t know why everyone’s so upset about my friendship with Epstein – I knew Jimmy Savile so much better,” was written more as a joke, and perhaps to convey Andrew’s lack of understanding at the severity of the situation. 

Jimmy Savile (1926 - 2011) was a prolific sex offender© Michael Putland
Jimmy Savile (1926 - 2011) was a prolific sex offender

Andrew commented ‘Trousers!’ in regards to Emily Maitlis’ outfit


Sam McAlister told the press that she didn’t hear him make such a comment before the interview. However, Emily’s outfit was given plenty of consideration before the chat. Sam explained: “Like many women in journalism, every element of Emily’s appearance is pored over on social media.

“It was definitely important we felt, sadly, that she wore something very conservative so we didn’t have an onslaught of criticism about her attire being inappropriate given the seriousness of the interview and the content. [That line] is the spirit of the situation.”

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

Jeffrey Epstein went to Beatrice’s 18th birthday party


Yes, as mentioned in the show, Jeffrey Epstein did go to Beatrice’s Victorian-themed 18th birthday party and was photographed alongside Ghislaine Maxwell and Harvey Weinstein. Yikes. 

NEW YORK CITY, NY - MARCH 15: Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell attend de Grisogono Sponsors The 2005 Wall Street Concert Series Benefitting Wall Street Rising, with a Performance by Rod Stewart at Cipriani Wall Street on March 15, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)© Patrick McMullan
Jeffrey Epstein with former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell

The late Queen trusted Andrew’s judgement on the Newsnight interview


It is thought that the late Queen ultimately allowed the interview to go ahead, but the reason behind this isn’t known - while in the movie Andrew claims it is because she trusts his judgement. In reality, Emily previously revealed that Her Majesty realised that the interview would be a problem before Andrew did. 

Speaking in the Andrew: The Problem Prince, Emily explained: “It was only on the Saturday when the Queen had reportedly read the whole transcript that he received a tap on the shoulder by his security detail. And they said, I think, ‘Sir, you might have to come with us’. It was after the Queen had seen what the interview contained that I think it dawned on her before it dawned on him.” 

Prince Andrew the Queen walking together at Ascot© Karwai Tang
Andrew was said to be the Queen's favourite child

Andrew thought that the interview went well 


Prince Andrew was reportedly delighted by the interview, as was his team at the time. In her book, Sam wrote: “I could barely believe his people hadn’t stopped the interview. I would have, despite the consequences. ‘How did you think it went?’ I asked the equerry. She beamed. ‘Wasn’t he wonderful!’ she said. 

“I’d expected Amanda Thirsk to be distraught, the Prince to look shaken or concerned, but she was smiling, and he seemed ebullient. And then it hit me: he thought it had gone well. He was in such a good mood that he offered us all a tour of the palace.” 

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

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