Who is Sam McAlister from Scoop? The vibey producer who nabbed THAT Prince Andrew interview

She’s got big hun energy

Scoop has just dropped on Netflix. A dramatic retelling of how BBC Newsnight secured THAT car crash interview with Prince Andrew and Emily Maitlis in 2019. It featured the bombshells that Prince Andrew didn’t regret his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, was in Pizza Express in Woking at the time he was accused of having sex with Virginia Giuffre and couldn’t sweat because of a Falklands War injury.

The cast is banging and whilst a lot of the reviews are quite savage, everyone agrees on how iconic the one and only Billie Piper’s character, Sam McAlister is.

So who is Sam McAlister, the vibey producer with incredible hair and sunglasses played by Billie Piper in Scoop?

Via Instagram

Single mum Sam McAlister was the first in her family to attend uni and she studied law at Edinburgh. She trained as a criminal barrister before going into a career in the media. She worked at the BBC for 10 years where she worked on booking guests for Newsnight interviews. Some of her most memorable bookings were with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, former US President Bill Clinton and businessman Elon Musk, as well as, obviously Prince Andrew. She became known as the “booker extraordinaire” within the BBC.

She called the infamous interview a “masterclass in how to destroy your life” and Billie Piper called her the “unsung hero” behind the whole interview.

Billie Pier and Sam look eerily similar

Speaking of Billie Piper, they really are the spitting image of each other. Speaking about having Billie Piper play her in Tatler, Sam said:  “Next, I was meeting Billie. We practised my walk and discussed my wardrobe. I watched her transform into the black-leather-swathed, snakeskin-booted, Louis Vuitton-handbag-toting, lipgloss-drenched Sam. With Billie wearing a wig of my blonde curls, the likeness was so uncanny that even the crew got us confused.”

Speaking about playing Sam, Billie Piper told Radio Times: “We have quite similar working-class backgrounds. She’s also this absolute force of nature. Not chilly. Not steely – although I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of her – but incredibly likeable and bright.”

She’s such a vibe

When the interview went big, Sam said she “treated myself to some Louis Vuitton earrings to celebrate the moment. My own little part in journalistic and royal history.” She now teaches negotiation at LSE and is a professional speaker. She worked heavily on Scoop as an executive producer. “I’m always on the move: there’s been a TEDx talk, a fellowship at LSE, martinis at The Dorchester,” she said.

Via Instagram

Scoop’s producer, Hilary Salmon said: “Sam is a force of nature. She’s larger than life – and neither of those two descriptions are clichés in Sam’s case. She’s not the sort of person that you would expect to find in a BBC office, let alone on BBC Newsnight, this serious engine of news”.

She’s a single mum to a teenage boy and her Insta is full of iconic designer outfit pics, a lot of blonde curly hair and leather jackets, some very cool sunglasses and lots of mirror selfies.

Is Scoop based on a book?

Who is Sam McAlister Scoop

Via Netflix

So, yes obviously it’s a real-life retelling but it is actually dramatised from Sam’s memoir Scoop: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews, which was published in 2022.

Does Sam McAlister have a feud with Emily Maitlis?

Via Netflix

Some reports have hinted at a feud between Emily Maitlis and Sam McAlister after Emily apparently refused to properly acknowledge Sam’s pivotal role in securing the interview. At the time Emily Maitlis was being paid £325,000 a year from the BBC, whilst Sam McAlister was on around £30,000.

A source told the Daily Mail: ‘While those who work behind the scenes don’t always get credit, for Emily to go out there and not mention Sam in such a high-profile interview seems pretty unfair and wrong,” said one former colleague of the two women.

“Emily was on a significant salary and then you had Sam grafting behind the scenes on about £30,000 a year. Without Sam, there would have been no Prince Andrew interview. It’s as simple as that.”

But Sam has since denied the rumours, writing in Tatler: “Some newspapers keep trying to hint at a feud between us, but I’m thrilled for her, genuinely.” Emily Maitlis has always refused to comment on the supposed feud.

But BBC sources were said to be “seething” after the Scoop’s publication, accusing Sam of taking the credit for a team effort and reducing key figures in the story, including Emily Maitlis, to “peripheral figures in her narrative.”

The Mail reports a BBC insider said at the time: ‘There is internal disappointment because it is not the done thing to expose how you go about these journalistic practices and also because a lot of people who did a considerable amount of work on this show are being written out of the process in pursuit of one person’s career. Former colleagues find that disappointing.”

For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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Featured image via Instagram and Netflix