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Netflix's latest drama is based on a real-life controversy - and it's dividing critics

Is it an edge-of-seat thriller or a self-regarding bore?

Netflix's latest drama is based on a real-life controversy - and it's dividing critics
Andrew Williams
05 April 2024

We heard Netflix was making Scoop in 2022. It’s the story of the BBC Newsnight interview that led to Prince Andrew being removed from royal duties, owing to his association with Jeffrey Epstein.

How do you make a 103 minute movie about a 49 minute TV interview? Scoop digs into the behind-the-scenes work that made the interview actually happen, most notably through Billie Piper, who plays BBC Newsnight producer Sam McAlister.

Is it any good? The reviews from critics are all over the shop, from glowing 5-star write-ups at places like the Daily Telegraph to pretty dismal 2-star ones that suggest it’s self-regarding tosh.

It all adds up to a thoroughly respectable 83% Rotten Tomatoes score, though, further muddying up the question of whether you should actually watch Scoop. In the snippets below we’ll run the gamut from the lovers to the haters, to give you a better idea of which side you may fall on.

Netflix's latest drama movie is dividing critics
Image Credit: Netflix

Let’s start with the good stuff:

The Daily Telegraph (5/5): “Aspects of the whole saga are still inescapably absurd, and maximally milked in a borderline-The-Thick-of-It fashion without going overboard… You clamp hand to mouth, aghast at remembering that this trainwreck actually happened, and irresistibly compelled to relive it.”

The Evening Standard (4/5): The way to watch Scoop is from behind your fingers. The Newsnight interview by Emily Maitlis of Prince Andrew was grisly to watch at the time and its repetition here by Netflix, even with Rufus Sewell as Andrew and Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis, is as terrible as it was then.

Empire (3/5): “Scoop is not quite the prince that was promised. But there are some gripping moments, and some extraordinary performances — especially from Sewell and Piper.”

Guardian (2/5): Here is a laboriously acted and distinctly self-admiring, self-mythologising drama about the media, the royals and the media royals… the drama is smothered by its own overwhelming sense of importance.”

Unsurprisingly, a lot of these initial reviews are from UK reviewers. But what do others think? There’s a also spread of positive and negative coming from the US reviewers, but Deadline’s take makes it sound worth a watch:

Deadline (no score): “If Scoop doesn’t quite reach the levels of the aforementioned film classics…it certainly comes close on its own modest terms. And significantly, it manages to keep us on the edge our seats even if we do indeed know how it all ends. No small task.”

You can watch Scoop on Netflix now.