Rufus Sewell and Gillian Anderson to star in film about Prince Andrew’s Newsnight interview

Rufus Sewell is to star in the eagerly awaited drama fictionalising Prince Andrew’s infamous interview on the BBC’s flagship current affairs show, Newsnight.

The film, which starts shooting in London this month, will also feature Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis, the then-lead presenter on the show, who conducted the interview, widely perceived to be a remarkable coup for the programme and an ill-advised move by the prince.

Billie Piper will star as Sam McAlister, the producer who secured and oversaw the interview, and who wrote the book – Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews – on which the film is based. Meanwhile, Keeley Hawes will play Amanda Thirsk, former private secretary to Prince Andrew.

Rufus Sewell will play Prince Andrew in Netflix drama Scoop.
Rufus Sewell will play Prince Andrew in Netflix drama Scoop. Photograph: Andrew H Walker/Rex/Shutterstock

In the interview, broadcast in November 2019, Prince Andrew sought to clear himself of wrongdoing linked to his association with Jeffrey Epstein, who had been found dead in his jail cell three months before.

Maitlis examined the relationship between the royal and the convicted offender, as well as his associate Ghislaine Maxwell, who is currently serving a 20-year sentence for sex trafficking.

The prince expressed regret in the interview about his continued association with Epstein after the financier’s 2008 admission of soliciting underage sex. But he said he did not regret the friendship itself as it led to connections which were “actually very useful”.

He also offered no apology to the victims of Epstein’s crimes and made a number of statements protesting his own innocence over claims made by Virginia Giuffre that she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17.

These included his denial that they had had sex in 2001 saying he had been at Pizza Express in Woking that evening, and that Giuffre’s claims about dancing with him at a club in London while he was sweaty were false as he had temporarily lost the ability to sweat after an “adrenaline overdose” during the Falklands war.

Gillian Anderson will play Emily Maitlis.
Gillian Anderson will play Emily Maitlis. Photograph: Ian West/PA

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Prince Andrew has largely disappeared from public life since the interview, but efforts to restore his reputation continue. Last month, the Sunday Telegraph published a staged photograph of two people, wearing masks of Prince Andrew and Giuffre, in a bath at Maxwell’s home, in an apparent attempt to discredit the latter’s allegations.

Scoop is a Netflix production, originally announced last autumn, when Hugh Grant was linked to the role of Prince Andrew – to the apparent surprise of his representatives. McAlister’s book has been adapted by Peter Moffat, whose previous credits include the Bryan Cranston series Your Honor and the 2004 film Hawking, which won acclaim for star Benedict Cumberbatch as Stephen Hawking.

Philip Martin, who has previously directed Anderson in The Crown, will direct. In a statement released on Tuesday, he said: “Uptempo, immersive and cinematic, I want to put the audience inside the breathtaking sequence of events that led to the interview with Prince Andrew – to tell a story about a search for answers, in a world of speculation and varying recollections. It’s a film about power, privilege and differing perspectives and how – whether in glittering palaces or hi-tech newsrooms – we judge what’s true.”