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Review: Scoop. Yet more proof that sexism is a pandemic

  • Release year: 2024
  • Director: Philip Martin.
  • Producers: Radford Neville and Hilary Salmon.
  • Screenplay by: Peter Moffat and Geoff Bussetil.
  • Cinematographer: Nanu Segal.
  • Music by: Anne Nikitin and Hannah Peel.

Synopsis: the story about Prince Albert’s interview with the BBC and how it came to be.

Shotgun Commentary: fascinating account about one of the most relevant moments in the history of BBC during the 21st century.

Prince Albert (Rufus Sewell) during the BBC interview.
Source: Scoop (Philip Martin, 2024).

Review

Scoop follows Sam McAlister’s life from the moment she asks for an interview with Buckingham Palace until the aftermath of the BBC’s interview with Prince Albert. It is her drive and insistence to think outside the box that leads her to secure an interview with the person of interest of the moment. Regrettably, a feat that didn’t get nearly enough recognition.

This feature aims to amend that mistake. It gives credit where it’s due and shows the inside workings of the communications’ giant that is the BBC, at least in what pertains to the Newsnight show (1980-present).

The bear vs man question

Scoop can’t help but to resemble Bombshell (2019). News’ channel environment, a trio of female professionals and a sex scandal. This is the same combination that we witnessed pre-COVID. The key difference is that, this time, the criminals are not inside the organisation but outside.

Amanda Thirsk (Kelley Hawes), Prince Albert (Rufus Sewell) and Princess Beatrice (Charity Wakefield) during the negotiations pre-interview.
Source: Scoop (Philip Martin, 2024).

However, they are very much part of the same crowd of powerful men who abuse women and get away with it. Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. It is a reality that has been so normalised that it barely turns heads any more. This is why narratives like this are so relevant, to remind an anaesthetised public about this situation and its gravity.

Fear of the future

Further than the main story about Prince Albert and Epstein, the film also gives a glimpse into McAlister’s employment at the BBC. Her circumstances paint a very unflattering portrait of the company. A hard-working woman is looked down upon by her colleagues and superiors, even though she gets incredible results. This snobby attitude could explain the difficulties that the BBC has to adapt to the modern times. Prudence is always the safe way to operate. Still, fear of innovation and discovery should never be allowed to take place in a news agency.

The ending of the film, especially the tiny speech made by Esme Wren (Romola Garai, who, funnily enough, was in the original Scoop, 2006), seems to subdue the previous criticism to the BBC by praising their actions in regard to the interview. Nevertheless, securing that interview was not a matter of good BBC performance. It was thanks to one woman going against what she was being pushed to do by this same enterprise.

Sam McAlister (Billie Piper) after the interview. Source: Scoop (Philip Martin, 2024).

Furthermore, the addition in the final credits of how she left BBC and got another job, leaves the audience with great curiosity whether she left because the BBC still treated her like a worthless outsider or because she was offered a better deal. After some research, it can be concluded that one thing happened right after the other.

The golden trio

Piper delivers a great performance as McAlister. She shows her attitude in the professional environment as well as in her personal life. She doesn’t shy away from exposing the bad things along with the good ones and, even though Piper’s tic of sticking her tongue out every three seconds is still as annoying as it was back in Doctor Who (2005-2013), it doesn’t distract enough to take you out of the riveting plot.

Gillian Anderson’s role as Emily Maitlis is not as relevant to the story as the promos lead you to believe. Yet, her charisma eclipses the screen every time she is there. As an interviewer, Maitlis is absolutely fierce. She gets all the information she wants without the interviewee even noticing. Her professionalism comes across in a very inspiring fashion. As usual, Anderson manages to make her character iconic despite any flaws they might have.

Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson) during the interview.
Source: Scoop (Philip Martin, 2024).

Closing the trio is Keeley Hawes, who plays Amanda Thirsk, Prince Albert’s private secretary. Thirsk was probably the only person at the time who still truly believed that the prince was innocent, either that or she had managed to lie to herself to the point of belief.

This attitude led her to take the worst course of action, a strategy that would have worked if her boss had been innocent, so naturally it blew up in her face. Hawes portrays Thirsk as an idealist in a world of deceit. Her honesty and good intentions are her downfall. Hawes shows the audience a different version of a private secretary than the ones they might have seen in The Crown (2016-2023). A much more humane, feeling and possibly smitten private secretary that tries to fight a losing battle with all her might.

Amanda Thirsk (Keeley Hawes) after the interview. Source: Scoop (Philip Martin, 2024).

A standing ovation for makeup

In addition to their great talent, the representation of these historical characters is greatly improved by the awe-inspiring work of the makeup department who manages to sculpt a completely different face on top of the actors, the best example of it being Prince Albert, who looks completely identical to the real prince, and nothing like Rufus Sewell, the actor who is under the prosthetics.

All in all, it is a faithful account of the facts described in McAlister’s book Scoops, a captivating story that has lost none of its relevance still.

Advice to take from this movie:

  • The lack of risks isn’t always the safe option.
  • If you refuse to evolve, you will die.
  • If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck; most likely, it is a sex offen… duck.
Emily Maitlis (Gillian Anderson) and Prince Albert (Rufus Sewell) after the interview. Source: Scoop (Philip Martin, 2024).

What’s your take? Have you watched Scoop? What did you think of the story? Does Piper’s tongue annoy you too? Don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts in the comments section below, or leave a message in my contact page! For more reviews and cinema-related articles, check out the rest of my blog! 😀

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