Netflix Scoop's Sam McAlister warns 'free speech' is at risk due to 'relentless' BBC Newsnight cuts

Netflix Scoop's Sam McAlister warns 'free speech' is at risk due to 'relentless' BBC Newsnight cuts

WATCH HERE: Netflix releases trailer for Prince Andrew Newsnight film Scoop

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 02/04/2024

- 10:38

Updated: 02/04/2024

- 15:41

Former Newsnight producer Sam McAlister was key in orchestrating Prince Andrew's infamous 2019 interview

Sam McAlister, whose book provides the basis to Netflix movie Scoop about Prince Andrew's Newsnight interview, has waded into the debate surrounding the BBC's "relentless" cuts on the show.

McAlister helped facilitate the historic interview between BBC journalist Emily Maitlis and Prince Andrew back in 2019 as the royal was grilled on his ties to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Her book, Scoops, will now be brought to screens thanks to Netflix later this week with Billie Piper playing her alongside a cast boasting the likes of Rufus Sewell, Keeley Hawes and Gillian Anderson.

The interview has since been branded a "car crash" by many and Andrew's attempts to restore his public image are widely perceived to have failed drastically.

The fallout came despite the royal reportedly coming away from the interview with Maitlis under the impression things had run smoothly.

Ahead of Scoop's release, McAlister has spoken out on why the interview hit headlines across the globe and why Newsnight should be regarded as a pivotal pillar in today's journalistic landscape - despite suffering cost-cutting measures from the Beeb.

Sam McAlister (left)

Sam McAlister (left) with the cast of Netflix's Scoop


"The interview – and this movie – is a hugely important tale of the power of journalism," McAlister said of the saga. "Why it matters so much.

"It’s the story of the women who made it happen, the brilliant Emily Maitlis (played by Gillian Anderson) and the talented and forensic Newsnight editor Esme Wren (Romola Garai).

"It’s a tribute to the BBC, to the team at Newsnight and to the hard work of the amazing people behind the camera who help make these moments happen."

"Sadly, things are now quite different at Newsnight," McAlister continued to Radio Times, referencing the measures that have hit the show.

Rufus Sewell

Rufus Sewell plays Prince Andrew in Scoop


Newsnight had its format overhauled late last year as part of the BBC's plans to save money as it sought to make savings of £500 million across the board.

It lost dedicated reports, was trimmed to a 30-minute runtime and dropped investigative films.

The BBC reported that Newsnight's 57-strong team was more than halved to 23 as redundancies were rolled out.

Hitting out at the BBC's decision, McAlister fumed: "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.

Sam McAlister

Sam McAlister (left) has issued a warning about the future of Newsnight following the 2019 Prince Andrew interview


"This is a tragedy," she went on before warning: "Newsnight is the epitome of public service journalism and, without it, the powerful will sleep more soundly in bed and the things that matter to us all – free speech, fearless journalism and holding people to account – will be ever more perilously out of reach."

McAlister won't feature in the upcoming Netflix film about the interview, with Piper taking on the leading role of the Newsnight booker.

Scoop arrives on Netflix on April 5.

You may like