Scoop REVIEW – A Thrilling Exposé

The interview that put the spotlight on Pizza Express.


Most of us would have seen the former Duke of York’s interview on BBC’s Newsnight before this film, as he spoke out about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein. Scoop dives into the groundwork that came before that – the persuasion, the prep – and that good journalism is still very much essential in the digital age.

The movie begins with BBC announcing a whole slew of terminations about to happen. There’s a certain tension at Newsnight, as everyone scrambles to show how essential they are so they don’t lose their job. Amongst them is Sam McAlister (Billie Piper), the booker for Newsnight, who’s very good at her job, but is straddled with the insecurity that her fellow colleagues look at her as someone who belongs more with the tabloids. Piper is so good here. It’s her little mannerisms that helps us see Sam’s fears and insecurities, especially when she’s a single mother that cannot afford to be unemployed. It’s a wonderfully restrained performance that never veers into melodrama – Piper is aware that her authentic portrayal of Sam’s situation is enough for us to relate to her.

It all begins with a photograph of Prince Andrew (Rufus Sewell) papped at a park with Jeffrey Epstein in 2009, having just emerged from his mansion – a fantastic, propulsive open to the film. The photo is irrefutable proof of that friendship, one that the Prince can no longer deny. We often think of the paparazzi as scum, who invade the privacy of the rich and the famous, at times to tragic consequences. Scoop offers a view of the other side, and highlights the part that they play in making the powerful account for their actions. In 2019, Epstein is arrested, and things go into overdrive for Sam as well as the comms team working with Prince Andrew.

Should he speak up, or continue to remain silent in the court of public opinion? Sewell is unrecognisable here in heavy prosthetics and make-up, and really sinks into the role. If you watch the interview and Sewell’s performance, it’s remarkable how uncanny it is. Gillian Anderson’s performance as Emily Maitlis is also pitch perfect, and the absolute tension in that interview scene is nail-biting stuff. There are detractors who feel that the film is unnecessary since the interview already exists online – why do we need a reenactment? While the interview is the climax of the film, it is the propulsive action of all that came before that actually drives the true point and message of the film.

Good journalism is pushing every lead, examining every nook and cranny, tracking down every single possible evidence/witness in order to build a story. It is a culmination of Sam’s persuasion, Esme’s (Romola Garai) production, and Emily’s well-honed interview skills, of knowing where to press and when to hand a man a shovel and watch him dig his own grave.

Scoop feels especially relevant given the whole Kate Middleston situation that happened recently, and how out of touch the royals and their comms teams are when it comes to the common people. Prince Andrew and his team had all the opportunity to kill the interview before it even aired, but never did because they couldn’t discern how inauthentic he was. That’s the most fascinating part of Scoop.

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Scoop isn't quite on the level of recent journalism films like Spotlight or She Said, but the talented ensemble makes this well worth a watch.