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The true story behind Netflix's ‘Scoop,’ about Prince Andrew’s explosive BBC interview

The new film dramatizes the Duke of York's disastrous 2019 interview about his ties to alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and accusations of sexual misconduct.

Since the aftermath of an explosive 2019 interview with the BBC, Britain's Prince Andrew has been retired from public life.

The behind-the-scenes drama and the tension of the interview — which featured the Duke of York being grilled about alleged sexual misconduct and ties to accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein — are portrayed in the new Netflix movie "Scoop."

The film, which starts streaming on April 5 and stars Gillian Anderson, depicts how the interview came together and portrays the tension of the one-hour special that marked a rare lengthy interview by a member of the British royal family.

Just days after the interview left viewers shocked, Andrew announced he was stepping away from public duties.

Here's what to know about the famous BBC segment and its dramatization in "Scoop."

Who is Prince Andrew?

Trooping The Colour 2019
Prince Andrew is the second-oldest son of the late Queen Elizabeth II.Max Mumby / Getty Images

The Duke of York, 64, is the younger brother of Britain's King Charles III and the third child of the late Queen Elizabeth II.

He was second in line to the British throne behind Charles when he was born, but is now eighth behind Prince William and his three children, as well as Prince Harry and his two children.

Andrew is a former helicopter pilot in the British Royal Navy who transitioned into finance and also served for 10 years as the United Kingdom's Special Representative for International Trade and Investment.

He is the father of Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, whom he divorced in 1996.

What did he say in the controversial interview?

Andrew appeared on the BBC's "Newsnight" program in November 2019. He was asked by journalist Emily Maitlis about his friendship with Epstein, allegations of sexual misconduct and more.

Epstein, 66, died by suicide in August 2019 in his cell at a Manhattan federal prison. He faced up to 45 years in prison on allegations that he sexually abused dozens of girls as young as 14 and young women at his homes in New York and Florida from 2002 to 2005. He had pleaded not guilty.

Andrew was not charged with any crimes. He denied in the BBC interview that he ever saw Epstein with underage girls.

"Do I regret the fact the he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes," he said about Epstein.

Even after Epstein had served 18 months in prison for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution in 2008, the Duke of York said he went to stay with Epstein for four days in New York in 2010. His reasoning was he traveled to break off their friendship in person.

"Scoop" begins with a paparazzi photographer seeing Andrew and Epstein leave a Manhattan apartment and hustling to get a photo of them walking together in Central Park.

“I admit fully that my judgment was probably colored by my tendency to be too honorable but that’s just the way it is,” he said in the interview, adding that it was clear that it was “the wrong thing to do.”

Rufus Sewell and Gillian Anderson play Prince Andrew and BBC journalist Emily Maitlis in "Scoop." Peter Mountain / Netflix

Andrew didn't regret his friendship with Epstein, saying it had "some seriously beneficial outcomes" because of "the opportunities" he was given to learn about business from the financier.

He also acknowledged flying on Epstein's private plane, and visiting him on his private island and his home in Florida.

In addition, Andrew responded to allegations made by Virginia Roberts Giuffre. She said in a 2015 civil lawsuit against Ghislaine Maxwell that she was trafficked by Epstein and forced to have sex with Andrew in 2001 when she was 17.

Giuffre settled the lawsuit out of court for an undisclosed sum in 2017. Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison after being convicted in 2021 of helping Epstein sexually abuse girls.

Giuffre also sued Andrew in federal court for alleged sex abuse in 2021, and the two reached a settlement in 2022 without Andrew admitting guilt.

In the interview, Andrew "categorically" denied having sex with Giuffre and said the alleged encounters with her "never happened." He was asked about a photo showing him with a young Giuffre at Maxwell's house.

"I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," he said. “I’m at a loss to explain this particular photograph."

Giuffre told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY in September 2019, “He denies that it ever happened, and he’s going to keep denying that it ever happened, but he knows the truth and I know the truth.”

The Duke of York claimed one alleged 2001 encounter couldn't have happened because he was at a Pizza Express with his daughter Beatrice in a London suburb that day. He was asked by Maitlis why he would remember that day so specifically.

“Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do," he said. "I remember it weirdly distinctly."

What was the fallout from the interview?

The duke had hoped the interview would put to rest the controversy about the allegations against him and his friendship with Epstein. It had the opposite effect.

His interview was widely panned, with British tabloids and television commentators criticizing him for a range of issues.

He was condemned for his seeming lack of empathy for Epstein's victims, staying at Epstein's house even after he had served time for a sex crime, and defending his friendship with a man accused of heinous crimes.

His comment about Epstein's alleged behavior being "conduct unbecoming" was seen as a drastic understatement, and his reference to Pizza Express became an online meme ridiculing him.

“Not one single word of remorse,” read The Mail on Sunday at the time.

“Apologize to Epstein’s victims now, prince told,” The Guardian blared.

“People are scratching their heads in the U.K. as to how he has made a bad situation even worse,” NBC News royal contributor Camilla Tominey said at the time.

There also was fallout from his own family. In 2022, Andrew's mother, Queen Elizabeth II,  stripped him of his military affiliations and royal patronages, according to a statement by Buckingham Palace.

Days after the interview, Andrew announced he was stepping away from public duties.

“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organizations and charities that I am proud to support,” he said in a statement.

“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein," he continued. "His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathize with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.”

What events does "Scoop" dramatize?

Sewell, who recently starred in Netflix's "The Diplomat," as Prince Andrew. Peter Mountain / Netflix

Rufus Sewell ("The Diplomat") looks nearly unrecognizable in prosthetics as Prince Andrew, while "X-Files" star Gillian Anderson plays interviewer Emily Maitlis.

This marks Anderson’s latest foray into the British royal orbit. In 2021, she won an Emmy for portraying British prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the Netflix hit “The Crown.”

On TODAY April 3, Anderson recalled seeing the interview herself for the first time.

"I think I put it off for a long time because I knew how cringeworthy it was, and eventually really dug into it when I started this project, and yeah, it's jaw-dropping," she said.

She also reflected on taking on the role of Maitlis, a veteran journalist who is a household name in the United Kingdom. She initially turned it down.

"She's an incredibly formidable journalist and woman who is in our midst all the time, and the idea of playing somebody that was so familiar and so alive felt incredibly daunting," Anderson said.

The movie shows how a group of women landed the interview, led by BBC show booker Sam McAlister, who is played by Billie Piper. The film is based on the 2022 book "Scoops" by McAlister, who is also an executive producer of the film.

"Scoop" shows how the BBC's Esme Wren (blue dress), Sam McAlister (back row, left) and EPeter Mountain / Netflix

"Scoop" depicts how McAlister, Maitlis and "Newsnight" boss Esme Wren worked behind the scenes with Andrew and his staff to convince him to do the interview after the public pressure ratcheted up following Epstein's arrest and subsequent suicide.

"An hour of television can change everything," McAlister says in the movie. "It's like magic."

The tension builds as Maitlis is seen mulling over the questions she plans on asking, and Andrew rehearses how he will respond to pointed questions about Epstein and the photo of him with Giuffre.

It culminates in the interview at Buckingham Palace, which Andrew initially thought went so well he even gave Maitlis a tour of the palace afterward.

Other real-life figures who appear in the movie are Wren, played by Romola Garai, and Andrew's private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, played by Keeley Hawes.