How Much Of Netflix's Scoop Actually Happened? Separating Fact From Fiction

Scoop has been one of Netflix's most talked-about originals of 2024
Scoop has been one of Netflix's most talked-about originals of 2024 PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

The aftermath of Prince Andrew’s infamous Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis reverberated around the world when it first aired in November 2019.

Almost five years later, the saga was recently adapted for a Netflix film starring Sex Education’s Gillian Anderson, Rufus Sewell, Keeley Hawes and Billie Piper as the key players.

The first frame in Scoop is a text disclaimer that reads: “This film is based on real events – however certain events have been fictionalised for dramatic purposes.”

Because it’s based on recent real events, many viewers have been left questioning which details included in the film are based on fact, and which have been dramatised.

Read on for the truth behind the film’s biggest talking points…

Prince Andrew’s teddy bears

Prince Andrew and his teddy bears as depicted in Scoop
Prince Andrew and his teddy bears as depicted in Scoop PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

Did Prince Andrew really have a teddy bear collection? It’s such a bizarre detail in the film, that it has to be true – which it apparently is.

Two years ago, former Buckingham Palace maid Charlotte Briggs told The Sun that she was personally responsible for ordering the Duke Of York’s 72 soft toys when he was in his mid-30s.

“As soon as I got the job, I was told about the teddies and it was drilled into me how he wanted them,” she said. “I even had a day’s training. Everything had to be just right. It was so peculiar.”

She added: “It was so odd. After all, he was a grown man who had served in the Falklands.

“But he absolutely loved the teddies and was very clear about how he wanted them arranged.”

According to the tabloid, Andrew would even reportedly lose his temper if they were not arranged to his liking.

Prince Andrew’s friendship with Jimmy Savile

Prince Andrew at an Easter service in March 2023
Prince Andrew at an Easter service in March 2023 Anadolu via Getty Images

In one scene in Scoop, Rufus Sewell’s version of Prince Andrew makes an off-colour joke to Emily Maitlis and her team during their first meeting, commenting: “I don’t know why everyone’s so upset about my friendship with Jeffrey Epstein – I knew Jimmy Savile so much better.” 

Former Newsnight producer Sam McAlister revealed to Channel 5′s Jeremy Vine that this was one line in which the film’s writers took some “artistic licence”.

“But they were friends, Charles and Andrew,” she added. “They knew Savile and they mixed with him.”

While it’s not known if Andrew himself really was friends with the disgraced paedophile and TV presenter, who died in 2011, the Duke Of York did appear on an old episode of Jim’ll Fix It, in which an eight-year-old girl visited the HMS Cottesmore.

Prince Andrew’s team reached out to Newsnight first

Keeley Hawes and Rufus Sewell in Scoop
Keeley Hawes and Rufus Sewell in Scoop PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

In Scoop, the fictionalised Sam McAlister replies to a press release about Prince Andrew’s entrepreneurial Pitch@Palace initiative, telling private secretary Amanda Thirsk that she would “love to talk”, as she does with a series of other emails that pique her interest.

However, the real Sam told Radio Times how she initially turned this opportunity down.

“It started, innocently enough, with an email in my inbox from a PR inviting us to do a ‘puff piece’ about the Duke of York and his charitable work with young entrepreneurs,” she shared. “We declined that offer. We don’t do those at Newsnight.”

But then a few months later, “came an invitation to the Palace to meet Amanda (I was so certain they’d say no that I didn’t even tell my boss, Esme Wren”.

From there, negotiations began and an interview was on the table, but with the stipulation that there would be no questions about Jeffrey Epstein – so Newsnight declined again.

After more months of back-and-forth, Sam said that the situation changed when allegations were made against Prince Andrew by Virginia Giuffre – which he has always denied – and “were casting a shadow over his life, and the reputation of the entire royal family”.

Sam added that she believes Prince Andrew changed his mind to “return to public life” and “vindicate himself”.

That infamous Central Park photo

Connor Swindells in the opening scene of Scoop
Connor Swindells in the opening scene of Scoop SAM TAYLOR/NETFLIX

One of Scoop’s early scenes sees photographer Jae Donnelly (played by Sex Education’s Connor Swindells) darting around Central Park to try and secure the infamous photo of Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein together in 2010.

This is true to how that really unfolded. The photographer and Annette Witheridge (a former News Of The World reporter, who was then freelancing in New York), were surveilling Esptein’s town house when Prince Andrew exited with him.

In an account by Vanity Fair, Jae Donnelly “bolted out with his backpack” and “raced after them as they walked among the runners and dog walkers through Central Park” before catching up with the pair. He took the photo atop a rock formation, just like in the film.

Prince Andrew commenting on Emily Maitlis’ outfit

Gillian Anderson and Rufus Sewell as Emily Maitlis and Prince Andrew
Gillian Anderson and Rufus Sewell as Emily Maitlis and Prince Andrew PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

After Emily is seen initially pondering whether to opt for a dress for the interview, she eventually decides on trousers – which Prince Andrew later remarks on.

While the outfit is a replica of what Emily really wore, Andrew didn’t make this comment in real life. Instead, Sam said this line was added in as a comment on how women in the media are often treated.

“Like many women in journalism, every element of Emily’s appearance is pored over on social media,” she told the LA Times.

“It was definitely important we felt, sadly, that she wore something that was 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.”

Did Emily Maitlis really bring her dog to work?

Several scenes in Scoop depict Gillian Anderson with her dog – including at BBC HQ
Several scenes in Scoop depict Gillian Anderson with her dog – including at BBC HQ PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

Emily Maitlis’ first on-screen appearance in Scoop shows her arrive at work with her whippet Moody, who sticks around as she prepares to interview Prince Andrew.

The presenter really was known for bringing her dog to work with her – although perhaps not as much as the film suggests.

One unnamed BBC “insider” told The Daily Mail: ”Emily loves that dog so much, and he would often be at her side when she came to work. It was just one of those things that happened.

“You’d turn up to work and Emily would have her dog with her. But she was the only one. Some laughed. Others thought it was pretty entitled.”

However Newsnight sources told The Timesthat Emily never brought Moody in to work when she was presenting, only occasionally when doing prep. 

You can find snaps of “Moods” on Emily’s Instagram feed.

Princess Beatrice’s involvement in negotiations

Princess Beatrice is played by Wolf Hall star Charity Wakefield in Scoop
Princess Beatrice is played by Wolf Hall star Charity Wakefield in Scoop PETER MOUNTAIN/NETFLIX

Scoop depicts Prince Andrew’s daughter Princess Beatice in the negotiation meeting with the Newsnight team.

At one point, Prince Andrew asks why Emily should be the one to do it, with Beatrice noting it’s a plus that the presenter is a woman. She also highlights to her father that people are saying very negative things about him online. 

Beatrice was, indeed, present at the real meeting to consider whether her dad should go ahead with the interview, but the reality was slightly different to how things played out on screen.

Sam previously revealed that her demeanour was very different, too.

“To be frank, the only thing worse than speaking to a prospective interviewee about allegations of sexual impropriety and sex with a 17-year-old girl is having to do so in front of his daughter,” Sam wrote for the Daily Mail.

“Princess Beatrice was polite and engaged, but, unlike her father, she was evidently anxious about the meeting and clearly there to protect his interests.”

Scoop is available to watch on Netflix now.