Star Rating:


Streaming On: Watch Scoop on Netflix

Director: Philip Martin

Actors: Billie Piper, Gillian Anderson, Rufus Sewell

Release Date: Friday 5th April 2024

Genre(s): Biopic, Drama, Factual

Running time: 103 minutes

In the wake of the death of Jeffrey Epstein, hard-driving Newsnight booker Sam McAllister (Billie Piper) convinces the private secretary (Keeley Hawes) to Prince Andrew (Rufus Sewell) to take part in a no-holds-barred interview. Together with her producer (Romola Garai) and the host of 'Newsnight', Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson), they set the stage for one of the most monumental news interviews in British television history...

For much of 'Scoop', you're hoping beyond hope that it'll set into something resembling a flashy upcycling of 'Frost/Nixon' for the age of the internet. After all, there are similarities that cannot be ignored. Both were interviews that fundamentally changed how people viewed the subjects, both were done against the backdrop of huge controversy, and both ultimately came to be a defining point in the careers of both parties. Pointedly, both interviews - Prince Andrew and Richard Nixon - calcified what people thought of them. For Nixon, it was that he was guilty of covering up his crimes in office and deserved no further place in public life. In the case of Prince Andrew, it's that he was a deeply weird man who very much knew more than he was letting on about Jeffrey Epstein.

Yet, for much of 'Scoop', we're locked in with Sam McAlister - played with gusto by Billie Piper - as she tries to circumnavigate the high-minded BBC staff that are getting in her way towards a good story. Gillian Anderson floats in and out of a few scenes on the lead-up to the interview, but largely has nothing to do until the movie's final act. For Keeley Hawes, she plays a sort of Lynn to Prince Andrew's Alan Partridge, the long-suffering and overly conciliatory lackey who believes anything the other says and does whatever they ask, no matter how blithely stupid it is. For his part, Rufus Sewell is the best thing in this, and plays Prince Andrew with an uncomfortable queasiness made up of weird gestures and brusque offhanded comments. He cracks a joke about knowing Jimmy Saville far more than he knows Jeffrey Epstein to a room full of journalists. He keeps a stack of teddy bears on his bed and reams out a maid for not placing one of them correctly.

Fundamentally, 'Scoop' digs up nothing we didn't already know about Prince Andrew or Jeffrey Epstein. By all accounts, it seems as though Prince Andrew's staff - personified by Keeley Hawes' character - allowed the interview simply because they felt he was able to explain it all away. There's very little in the way of digging up or investigation like, say, Michael Mann's 'The Insider' or any other journalism movie you can think of. The famous photo of Epstein and Prince Andrew was taken several years before the interview, the capture of which serves as the opening scene of the movie. So if it's called 'Scoop', and it digs up very little, can it at least be somewhat entertaining?

'Scoop' has its moments, for sure, and Rufus Sewell gives an uncanny performance in the interview next to Gillian Anderson's permanently baffled expression throughout it, but so much of 'Scoop' seems wrapped up in the mythos and triumph of the big interview and very little in the legwork required to get there, which is where these kinds of movies get their zest from. Here, it's all sizzle and little steak.