Ex-BBC producer Sam McAlister claims Prince Andrew’s ‘failure to apologise’ and ‘rue his association with Epstein’ during car-crash interview sealed his fate

Ex-BBC producer Sam McAlister claims Prince Andrew’s ‘failure to apologise’ and ‘rue his association with Epstein’ during car-crash interview sealed his fate

  •  Sam McAlister organised the infamous Prince Andrew Newsnight interview

The ex-BBC Newsnight producer who organised the infamous Prince Andrew interview claimed his failure to apologise for his association with Epstein sealed his fate.

Sam McAlister made the comments in the lead up to the imminent release of Netflix film Scoop which is based on her book revealing the behind the scenes details of the car-crash interview.

It is widely considered the most disastrous interview in royal history and caused the royals to announce Andrew would step back from public duties just days after it aired.

Ms McAlister told The Radio Times: ‘My view is that the interview was fair, and it was his answers, his failure to apologise, to rue his association with Epstein, that created this. And that this will be his permanent fate.

‘I was sitting 15 feet behind him in Buckingham Palace, with Emily in my line of sight, listening to almost an hour of some of the most memorable, excruciating and impactful interview questions and answers in the history of BBC journalism.’

Pictured is Rufus Sewell as the Duke of York and Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis

Scoop is being released by Netflix on Friday after its premiere in Mayfair last week

The movie stars Rufus Sewell as the Duke of York and Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis. It is being released by Netflix on Friday after its premiere in Mayfair last week. 

Single mother Ms McAlister, who is played by Billie Piper, 41, spent months negotiating with the royal’s former press aide Amanda Thirsk, played by Keeley Hawes, 48, to make it happen. 

The Netflix film gives a blow-by-blow account, using Andrew’s own words, before during and after he spoke to the BBC at Buckingham Palace. 

It is seen as another headache for the King and Prince William at a time when the monarch and the Princess of Wales are both fighting cancer.

It will also bring Andrew’s toe-curling interview to a new audience of millions around the world, who will see how he failed to apologise for his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and gave bizarre alibis to sex allegations made by Virginia Giuffre.

Ms McAlister added: ‘As for Amanda Thirsk (who is played by Keeley Hawes), after some prevarication, she lost her job. I really felt for her. In all of our dealings she had been the epitome of professional.

‘Sadly, things are now quite different at Newsnight. Relentless cuts mean it’s been culled to a mere 30 minutes. The team is facing huge redundancies. There’s talk of more cuts in the future?’

Billie Piper plays the producer Sam McAlister

Sam McAlister pictured

Rufus Sewell plays The Duke Of York

The Duke Of York pictured

Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis, who conducted the extraordinary interview

Emily Maitlis

Keeley Hawes stars as Prince Andrew's former personal secretary Amanda Thirsk

Amanda Thirsk pictured

Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis and Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew in Scoop

Rufus Sewell (centre front with back to camera) as Prince Andrew in the new Nextflix drama Scoop, which depicts the interview between the Duke of York and journalist Emily Maitlis, played by Gillian Anderson (centre facing camera) with Billie Piper as Sam McAlister (left). Beatrice, to Andrew's left, was also in the meeting (played by Charity Wakefield)

As well Prince Andrew’s extraordinary answers on camera, Scoop also shows the notorious moment the Queen’s second son declared ‘that went well, didn’t it’ afterwards.

It shows how he joked about meeting with Epstein in New York and even gave Emily Maitlis a tour of Buckingham Palace while jovially pointing out its most priceless artworks.

The monarch, 75, and Prince William, 41, were believed to have been instrumental in the Queen’s decision to strip him of all his military titles and patronage following the PR disaster.

Yet Andrew, who later settled with Virginia Giuffre for a reported $12 million (£9.4m), was pictured leading the royal family at East service in Windsor over the weekend.

But the release of Scoop, which has a runtime of 1h 43m, could pour cold water on any hopes of a Prince Andrew comeback.

Royal biographer and investigative journalist Tom Bower believes Scoop should remind the King that he must stop any attempt by his brother to get back to public life.

He previously told MailOnline: ‘To save the Royal Family from more horrendous damage, King Charles will finally need to order Prince Andrew to permanently stay out of public view. Senior officials also need to tell Andrew the truth.

‘He is a serious liability and cannot be trusted or rescued. Unless King Charles firmly grasps this nettle it can only get worse’.

Andrew also still lives in his Royal Lodge home in the grounds of Windsor Castle. He has reportedly refused to move to Frogmore Cottage, the smaller former home of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle nearby. 

Scoop is based on the book by Sam McAlister (pictured). As well Prince Andrew's extraordinary answers on camera, Scoop also shows the notorious moment the Queen's second son declared 'that went well, didn't it' afterwards

The Duke is now braced for the release of Netflix's Scoop on Friday (starring Gillian Anderson)

The TV show is a dramatisation of his infamous 2019 Newsnight interview with Emily Matlis

The interview is widely considered the most disastrous in royal history

Prince Andrew has rarely been seen outside Windsor Great Park (pictured), where he lives in the 30-room mansion Royal Lodge, amid the fallout of the scandal

Mr Bower added: ‘Andrew needs to realise that he has reached the end of the line. He has absolutely no future in public view. To expunge his pretensions of royalty, he should finally be ordered to leave his palatial home and move into a small house’. 

Critics have long argued that the interview more than four years ago showed the world just how overconfident and out of touch Andrew is.

Recalling the moments when the interview finished, Sam McAlister previously told ITV’s Lorraine today programme: ‘He thought he’d done a great job. It is extraordinary. After 59 years of being told you’re incredible and amazing, it sinks in and you start to believe the hype. 

‘Everybody gets that when they rise but to be a royal puts you to the extreme degree of it. I think he felt he’d done a good job and was very jolly afterwards.

‘It was a real moment where you saw all the journalists going, “Oh my god, we’ve got to get out of here”.’ 

In scenes that humiliated Andrew and his family, he claimed he was at Pizza Express in Woking on the night Virginia Giuffre claimed he had sex with her in London when she was 17.

He also tried to dispel her claims he ‘sweats profusely’ by claiming that being shot at during the Falklands War left him with a condition that means he is unable to perspire.

Prince Andrew has been a public pariah following his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The pair pictured in New York's Central Park in 2011

Prince Andrew, Virginia Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell posing for a photo. The picture is said to be taken in London in 2001

Prince Andrew waves goodbye to a woman he let out the door at Jeffrey Epstein's New York home in 2010

In 2022, Andrew paid a reported £12 million to settle a civil case brought by Virginia Giuffre (pictured), 40, who claimed he sexually assaulted her when she was 17 after she was trafficked by Epstein. Andrew vehemently rejects her claims

He also suggested a photo of them together at Ghislaine Maxwell’s London mews house was faked.

And defending his decision to stay with Epstein in New York after the financier’s release from prison for child sex offences, Andrew insisted it felt like’ the right thing to do’ and he did so because he was ‘too honourable’ to refuse.

Sam McAlister has said the new film is a ‘nailbiter’.

She said: ‘You still don’t think he’s going to say it. I’ve seen it maybe 50 times, and each time I’m like, “He didn’t. Oh, he did!”.’

Following the BBC broadcast in November 2019 and the furore over Andrew’s friendship with Epstein, the duke stepped down from public life.

In 2022 he reached an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre reportedly worth up to 12 million US dollars (£9.6 million) following her civil sex claim against him in the US. He continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Epstein was found dead in his cell at a federal jail in Manhattan in August 2019 while he was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. His death was ruled a suicide.

The Duke of York strolled into St George's Chapel on Sunday alongside his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York and his sister Princess Anne

Prince Andrew beamed on Sunday as he walked in front and centre alongside senior royals as he attended the Easter Sunday Service at Windsor

The cast of Scoop at the premiere on March 27: Sam McAlister, Romola Garai, Rufus Sewell, Keeley Hawes, Billie Piper, Gillian Anderson, Philip Martin (pictured left to right)

Scoop, based on Sam McAlister’s memoir, documents the ‘high-stakes negotiations with Buckingham Palace’ through to the BBC’s headline-making interview with Andrew about his relationship with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Ms Maitlis was later accused of being dismissive of Ms McAlister’s tenacious work, failing to credit the producer in a magazine interview she gave after it was screened.

The pair then proceeded to present their own version of events. Netflix optioned Ms McAlister’s book on the affair – turning into Scoop – while Ms Maitlis began making her own series for Amazon last year.

It is yet to be released but will star Ruth Wilson as Ms Maitlis and Michael Sheen as the prince in this version. However, there was no sign of any rancour between the actresses playing the two women at Scoop’s premiere last week.

Speaking last week Ms McAlistair said that Billie Piper’s portrayal of her, and appearance, was so true to life that her partner struggled to tell the difference.

‘On set, even my own boyfriend got confused’, she said.

Pointing out the ‘eye for detail’ with Billie’s portrayal, Sam added: ‘The wig, I think she should have her own programme’.

She added: ‘You just can’t make this up really, can you? I mean I wrote the book, you were kind enough to have me on about, you read it, my mum, maybe my cat… here we are with a Netflix movie on the red carpet next to Billie Piper, who plays me in a movie basically about my life’.


Cameron Roy

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