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Keeley Hawes talks Netflix’s SCOOP


Keeley Hawes talks Netflix’s SCOOP


The drama on the real events behind the scenes at Newsnight began streaming this week…

SCOOP is the inside account of the tenacious journalism that landed an earth shattering interview – Prince Andrew – played by Rufus Sewell – and his infamous BBC Newsnight appearance.

From the tension of producer Sam McAlister – played by Billie Piper –  and her high stakes negotiations with Buckingham Palace, all the way to Emily Maitlis – played by Gillian Anderson – and her jaw dropping, forensic showdown with the Prince, SCOOP takes us inside the story, with the women who would stop at nothing to get it. To get an interview this big, you have to be bold.

Keeley Hawes who plays Amanda Thirsk in SCOOP talks about her role and the drama.

SCOOP: Keeley Hawes as Amanda Thirsk and Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew / Netflix

Who is Amanda Thirsk?

She was Prince Andrew’s press secretary and friend, I believe. I mean, I say ‘I believe’ quite a lot talking about her because there’s always a lot of responsibility attached to playing a real person. Obviously, unless you were there you can’t know, and I wasn’t there so I can only go on what I’ve been told about her, about what happened from people who were there. Anyway, Amanda Thirsk was pivotal in the decision that Prince Andrew should do this interview with Newsnight.

We meet her at a very early stage where she goes and agrees to have a meeting with Sam McAlister, played by the brilliant Billie Piper. The wheels start turning and Amanda Thirsk thinks that this could be a really good idea in terms of PR for Prince Andrew. I think her intentions were very good and very honest — she was a great friend of his and she obviously thought he was a great person and wanted everybody to see Prince Andrew the way that she saw him.

How did you come to be involved?

I read the scripts and I was just blown away. I think it’s such a brilliant way in to tell the story of that interview through the lens of the women. Obviously, Prince Andrew has to be in it in some way, but actually what’s really interesting is how it came about.

And I knew nothing about it when I read the script: I’d seen the interview back when it was screened and was as shocked and surprised as everybody else, but I really had no idea about the work and the tenacity of these brilliant women who made it happen. So, Peter Moffat’s script was really brilliant, I had heard wonderful things about our director Philip [Martin] and then the calibre of the cast that was coming together was just something that I thought was un-turn-downable.

Gillian Anderson as Emily Maitlis and Rufus Sewell as Prince Andrew / Netflix

What preparation did you do for the part?

There are different levels when it comes to playing a real person. The Crown is quite a good example: we feel like we have a real familiarity with those people. But actually, in this instance Amanda Thirsk is a very private person; there’s very little about her online. There’s a short speech she gives at Pitch@Palace, which is online, but it’s not very much. On the one hand that was a bit frustrating but, on the other it gave me a freer rein to conjure something, and that’s what I did.

I worked with the team, hair and makeup, and our wonderful costume designer, and Philip, and just put something together. And then actually, talking to Rufus [Sewell] and creating that relationship between Amanda and Prince Andrew, which is so important to our story… that all helped, you know. Sam McAlister was also very kind in sharing her thoughts about Amanda with me: they got to know each other quite well.

The thing was, I didn’t want to go about demonising somebody, and, as I said, I think her intentions were good. All of their intentions were good obviously… otherwise he wouldn’t have been doing the interview in the first place!

SCOOP is streaming now on Netflix

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