Prince Andrew's Newsnight interview in 2019 was a huge moment - and it has now been turned into a television show starring Swindon's own Billie Piper. 

The local celebrity joined her co-stars Gillian Anderson and Rufus Sewell to talk about their part in bringing the very-real story of that interview to Netflix for its latest film Scoop. 

The near-hour-long conversation with the Royal Family member – held in the wake of the death of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein – was the catalyst for the downfall of the Duke of York, who faced allegations of sexual assault of a minor through his association with Epstein and his partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, who has since been convicted of child sex trafficking.

Shortly after the interview, which was widely perceived as a “car crash”, Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Andrew was to suspend his public duties “for the foreseeable future”.

Behind Emily Maitlis’s extraordinary line of questioning was an entire team of Newsnight producers – including Sam McAlister, the woman who did the groundwork in securing the interview in the first place.

In Scoop, Piper plays McAlister,  Anderson portrays Maitlis, and Rufus Sewell takes the role of Prince Andrew.

“I think the interview did so much, I think it was the catalyst to so many things that happened beyond it that are really, really important, and holding people with that level of status to account, they have to be accountable,” said Doctor Who and I Hate Suzie star, Piper, 41.

“It’s very rare that you would get that level of access to someone like that.

“Seeing the women who brought that interview to our screens and their story, their quest to get it done, sort of ping-ponging between the BBC and the Royal Family, how hard that is, how many red lines there were, how male it was, often – they need this day in the sun because what they did was truly remarkable. And, you know, a big part of history.”

Piper says that she found Sam McAlister – whom she collaborated closely with in preparation for portraying her in the film – to be an inspirational figure.

“She’s fascinating, really,” the actress said. "She’s so ballsy"

“I wish I felt like her every day. She’s so positive as well – it’s such a dog-eat-dog world, that there’s a sort of steeliness to a lot of those people in that industry. But she’s unlike that, she’s warm, I don’t know, she just has a totally different approach.

“And it obviously works, because she got the interview of – well, I don’t know, I don’t know I’ll ever see an interview like that again.”

While Scoop traces the backstory of securing the interview, it also features a recreation of the conversation, with Gillian Anderson’s Maitlis and Rufus Sewell’s Andrew coming face-to-face.

For Sewell, 56, the preparation involved attempting to get under Prince Andrew’s skin, trying to work out why he said the things he did and the thoughts behind his approach to the interview.

“Me and Gillian didn’t work together on it, we just worked separately, which I think was the right way to do it,” he says.

“And I watched the interview obsessively. Maybe that’s too big a word, (but) I watched it a lot.

“I would just basically try, at first, to sound like him, to mimic, but more than anything, just to try to understand not just what he was thinking when he was speaking, but all of the hesitations, all of the body language, to find something that might be the root of that.

“I had an instinct when I first watched it, but actually trying to break it down, so that I could be seeing it in that moment, from his perspective, without judgment.”

Anderson, 55, who’s known for roles in The X Files, Sex Education and The Crown, studied Maitlis’s mannerisms to perfect the recreation of the interview.

“I’ve been a big fan for a while, so it was a joy to step into her shoes,” she says of playing the journalist, adding that preparing for the interview scene involved repeatedly watching and listening to the footage.

“The interview itself is about 50 minutes long, our version of it is about 10 minutes long, so it was asking somebody to turn the audio element of it into a repeated mp3, and also the visual into a smaller video file, and just basically watching and listening on a loop,” she explains.

“Paying attention to mannerisms, when she looked up… it was a drag at one point when I saw the actual film, because of how many times she looks down at her notes, it looks like I might be looking at my lines!”

In 2022, Virginia Giuffre v Prince Andrew – the US federal lawsuit filed in which Virginia Giuffre, nee Roberts, sued the Prince for sexual assault, alleging she was forced to have sex with Andrew at the age of 17 after being trafficked by Epstein – was settled out of court.

Scoop comes to Netflix on Friday April 5.