Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Andrew thought his Newsnight interview was going swimmingly – says BBC producer

0

PIZZA Express in Woking was immortalised in one of the most infamous interviews of all time.

Who can forget Prince Andrew telling Emily Maitlis on TV’s Newsnight that he could not have had sex with 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre because, on the day she alleged it happened, he was at the eatery for a kids’ party with daughter Beatrice?

Sam McAlister's memoir on how she set up Andrew's Newsnight interview, has been turned into a film, Scoop, with the producer played by Billie Piper, above

8

Sam McAlister’s memoir on how she set up Andrew’s Newsnight interview, has been turned into a film, Scoop, with the producer played by Billie Piper, aboveCredit: Splash
Towering blonde Sam, now 51, was then a 46-year-old single mum employed three days a week at the BBC

8

Towering blonde Sam, now 51, was then a 46-year-old single mum employed three days a week at the BBCCredit: Getty
Gillian Anderson takes on the role of Emily Maitlis in the infamous interview at Buckingham Palace

8

Gillian Anderson takes on the role of Emily Maitlis in the infamous interview at Buckingham Palace
Rufus Sewel stars as the prince in the car crash interview that saw Andrew removed from frontline royal life

8

Rufus Sewel stars as the prince in the car crash interview that saw Andrew removed from frontline royal lifeCredit: PA

During the sensational broadcast, the royal also tried to rubbish Virginia’s claim that he perspired while they danced at a nightclub just before the alleged 2001 encounter.

He insisted he could not have “sweated profusely” due to a medical condition he said he developed while serving as a Navy helicopter pilot in the Falklands War.

It wasn’t just a car crash moment for the pampered Prince, who called convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein “unbecoming”.

It was a full speed, multi-vehicle pile-up which generated global headlines — and memes.

‘Cut-throat journalist’

But how did it happen in the first place?

 The notoriously “never complain, never explain” royals allowing a cut-throat journalist to fire questions at one of them within palace walls was unheard of.

The scoop was all down to a plucky, part-time TV producer who grew up around an East End market stall — and who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Towering blonde Sam McAlister, now 51, was then a 46-year-old single mum employed three days a week at the BBC while her own mother, Netta, looked after her young son, Lucas.

She took the bus to work, ate kebabs on her way home — and was able to bag the story of the century.

It quickly became clear that Andrew was performing a masterclass on how to destroy your own life.

Now her memoir about the incredible 13 months of negotiations leading up to the 2019 telly grilling has been made into a film, titled Scoop, with the producer played by Billie Piper.

Prince Andrew reveals medical condition stops him sweating after sex accuser claimed he ‘sweated profusely’ during Newsnight interview

Sam, in her uniform of top-to-toe black leather and leopard print boots, says: “I was sitting 15ft away from Andrew’s back as Emily interviewed him. I could see every detail on his ornate chair and his foot tapping on the carpet.

“I had to set my face to frozen throughout. There were many times I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and I had to look at the floor not to give away my shock.

“It quickly became clear that Andrew was performing a masterclass on how to destroy your own life. And it was also clear that he thought it was going swimmingly.

“There was a second where I literally had to hold my breath.

“I remember thinking, ‘My God, he’s talking about sex! This is unheard of!’.”

The moment that made Sam, a former barrister, work hardest to conceal her shock came when Emily questioned Prince Andrew on whether he had sex with Virginia Giuffre or any young woman trafficked by his former friend Epstein.

His response was: “No, and without putting too fine a point on it, if you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody. You have to take some sort of positive action and so, therefore, if you try to forget, it’s very difficult to try and forget a positive action, and I do not remember anything.”

Why do that when you can simply say ‘no’? Which made it even more incredible that Prince Andrew had agreed.

Sam McAlister

Sam believes the royal was desperate for an opportunity to state his innocence before Beatrice, 35, married fiance Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi the following summer.

She says: “It was clear he wanted to vindicate himself and to be able to walk his daughter down the aisle. I saw this drive behind his desire to change the narrative. To change the perception of his guilt.”

Sam recalls how she was working at Newsnight when she received an invitation from the palace to cover a story about Prince Andrew’s charity work, admitting: “It wasn’t the sort of story Newsnight would ever cover.

“But I realised it was a valuable contact, so I kept the relationship going. By May 2019 I was turning up at Buckingham Palace to have a meeting with his chief of staff, Amanda Thirsk, played by Keeley Hawes in the film.

“I tried to persuade her that Prince Andrew should do an interview with us, but she was insistent that there be no questions about his friendship with Epstein.”

Epstein was then arrested on sex trafficking charges and, weeks later, found dead in his cell at New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.

The FBI was interested in speaking to Andrew as part of their probe into the paedophile. Sam reveals: “I pushed Amanda. I knew it was a tale that needed telling from his side. I presented it as an opportunity for him to give the country the truth.”

Andrew and Beatrice then met with Sam, Emily, and the Newsnight editor. Sam says: “I knew the clock was ticking and I was so close. I had a very honest conversation with Andrew, saying this could change the public’s perspective of him.

 “The thing about working on Newsnight is that no one ever wanted to go on it. Booking was impossibly hard. Persuading people to be interviewed by a complete pro like Emily meant you were asking them to risk it all on a BBC One show. To potentially be ripped to shreds.

“Why do that when you can simply say ‘no’? Which made it even more incredible that Prince Andrew had agreed. But then the people around him believed he had the conviction and charm to deal with it. And clearly he did, too.”

Who can forget Prince Andrew telling Emily Maitlis that he could not have had sex with Virginia Giuffre because he was at the eatery for a kids’ party with daughter Beatrice?

8

Who can forget Prince Andrew telling Emily Maitlis that he could not have had sex with Virginia Giuffre because he was at the eatery for a kids’ party with daughter Beatrice?Credit: PA
Sam with The Sun's Dulcie Pearce

8

Sam with The Sun’s Dulcie PearceCredit: supplied

Sam reveals Andrew oozed confidence on the day of the grilling. She says: “This was a man who used to be a national sex symbol. He was a war hero. He was the Queen’s favourite son. His confidence was understandable.

“After the interview he took Emily on a tour of Buckingham Palace. I raced back to the office, but she had to stay composed enough to be guided around.”

I treated myself to a pair of Louis Vuitton earrings and went back to work. Like everyone who has done a good job, I asked my boss for a pay rise. It was made clear it wasn’t going to happen.

Sam McAlister

Sam reckons her upbringing helped her clinch the sitdown. She says: “I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. We lived on a council estate.

“My parents worked at a meat and fish market with my grandma. I grew up around that so, at the core, I am a sales person. On the markets you’re always going for the sale, never take no for an answer. When you do get a no, you keep pushing until someone says yes.”

‘It was so uncanny’

Sam reveals the Newsnight scoop won her public plaudits from her boss. She says: “As a junior producer at the time my part was pretty invisible to the public. That was until my editor Esmé Wren — played by Romola Garai in the film — posted a tweet after it went on air, writing, ‘Full credit to our indefatigable interview producer Sam McAlister for securing this world exclusive’.

“I treated myself to a pair of Louis Vuitton earrings and went back to work. Like everyone who has done a good job, I asked my boss for a pay rise. It was made clear it wasn’t going to happen.”

Virginia said she was trafficked by Epstein and accused Andrew of sexually assaulting her when she was 17. Andrew has always strongly denied the allegations.

 Prince Andrew had to step away from public life after the Newsnight screening. He then paid millions to settle a civil sex assault case with Virginia out of court, with no admission of guilt.

Sam reveals pals urged her to write a book about nailing the interview, adding: “So that’s what I did, and now my book (Scoops) has been made into a Netflix film.”

She says of being on set: “I saw Billie Piper transform into me. She practised my walk, got a wig of my blonde hair, wore my wardrobe. It was so uncanny the crew got us confused.” Now out of producing, Sam enjoys socialising with famous faces. She reveals: “I was at Piers Morgan’s celeb-packed Christmas party and The Wolseley with Michael Gove is always delightful.”

But if she could book one more interview, who would it be with?

“Putin,” she insists. “Or Kate Middleton. The latter would need to be done sensitively, but she is who the nation wants to hear from.

“There would be no sensitivity needed with Putin. But my God I’d love to let Emily Maitlis at him.”

  • Scoop is on Netflix on Friday.
Andrew's chief of staff, Amanda Thirsk, played by Keeley Hawes in the film, was a key contact

8

Andrew’s chief of staff, Amanda Thirsk, played by Keeley Hawes in the film, was a key contact
Billie as Sam at 'Buckingham Palace'

8

Billie as Sam at ‘Buckingham Palace’
Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.