Stunning new information from the top-secret production process’s backstage have been revealed for the first time by the producer of Prince Andrew’s infamous trainwreck BBC interview.
Sam McAlister, who at the time worked for Newsnight, says in an excerpt from her new book, Scoops: Behind The Scenes Of The BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews, that after months of trying in vain to get a no-holds-barred interview with the Duke of York, she finally threw caution to the wind during a meeting between both camps.
The journalist claims she said to him, “Sir. I’ve been a resident of this nation for more than 40 years, but I only knew two things about you before tonight. You are known as “Air Miles Andy” and “Randy Andy,” and I firmly believe that the latter name does not assist you in your current situation.
She immediately questioned if she’d ruined their chances of getting “the interview of a lifetime” because of the great international scrutiny that was being placed on Andrew as a result of the arrest of his erstwhile close friend, Jeffrey Epstein.
However, McAlister reported that after a “long wait,” Andrew suddenly chuckled, which caused the entire room to rapidly defuse.
In November 2019, the royal agreed to sit down with BBC presenter Emily Maitlis to finally address questions about their relationship and refute claims that he had sex with Virginia Roberts-Giuffre, who was then 17 years old, after years of being dogged by headlines about his close ties to the convicted paedophile.
As opposed to clearing his name, the interview flopped so dramatically that Andrew announced his “stepping down” from royal duties just three days later, to widespread dismay.
Prince Andrew has strenuously denied any misconduct and has not been charged with any crimes.
The Prince was “upbeat” and “pleasant” when they first met before the interview, according to McAlister, and he had Princess Beatrice with him.
Beatrice, meanwhile, was “obviously there to protect his interests” and “evidently nervous” in contrast to her father.
According to McAlister, it was at that meeting that Andrew first disclosed his “alibi” for the night Roberts-Guiffre claimed to have slept with him.
The now-famous “no sweating” incident, a children’s party at Pizza Express, and even “errors of judgment” were all topics he discussed with the BBC team.
It was incredible, according to McAlister.
Then he said something I’ll always remember. As we came to an end, he turned to Princess Beatrice and suggested that they immediately go upstairs to discuss their concerns over a cup of tea with Mum because they had a lot to talk about.
The former TV producer also voiced dismay at the interview’s lack of diversity, which would ultimately put Andrew’s royal career to an end.
Apart from the Prince’s query, Amanda Thirsk, his private secretary, and her assistant were present, and McAlister says she was shocked to see “no attorneys, no other royal personnel.”
She also said that Donal McCabe, the Queen’s communications secretary, did arrive to check in, but that he left after meeting with a few people and before any filming had started.
“Afterward, this appeared like a lost opportunity because if he had stayed, he would have been privy to the interview’s details. Perhaps he would have acknowledged the terrible consequences this would have for Andrew, the palace, and the monarchy, according to McAlister.
They might have had more time to plan a response if they had. some form of damage control
The information McAlister provides about Andrew and his team’s response both during and right after the interview may be the most shocking of all.
“I could hardly believe his staff had allowed the interview to continue. I would have, she says in her book, regardless of the repercussions.
She continued by saying that Andrew even “seemed exuberant” and that the royal staff appeared pleased with how the shocking interview had turned out.
She suddenly understood that he “really thought it had all gone well,” according to McAlister.
The passage from McAlister’s book was released just a few days after Ghislaine Maxwell, Andrew’s erstwhile companion, was given a 20-year prison term for aiding Epstein in obtaining women for sex.
She expressed regret for her actions last week in a Manhattan court, telling her victims—many of whom were present—that she hoped their “closure” would come through her incarceration.
She admitted to the judge that she had assisted Jeffrey Epstein in committing these crimes, saying that having met the predator was “the biggest regret” of her life.
Outside the court, one victim remarked, “Sorry doesn’t cut it.”
The sentence is much less than the maximum 55-year request made by the prosecution.
However, Maxwell’s attorneys have stated that they will appeal and that the jail time actually represented the crimes of the late Epstein rather than her own.