Prince Andrew agreed to do his infamous Newsnight interview after a BBC producer taunted him about his “Randy Andy” nickname, it has emerged.
Sam McAlister, the woman responsible for securing the landmark BBC interview, said the final meeting which convinced him to appear on television saw her “give it to him very bluntly”.
“Sir. I have lived in this country for over 40 years and, until now, I only knew two things about you,” she told him. “It’s that you’re known as ‘Air Miles Andy’ and ‘Randy Andy’ and I can absolutely tell you that the latter really doesn’t help you in your current predicament.”
Fearing she had “blown our chances of landing the interview of a lifeline”, McAlister waited for a response as her team, presenter Emily Maitlis and Newsnight deputy editor Stewart Macleancer, looked “shocked”.
“There was a long pause,” she said. “Then Andrew laughed. The room collectively exhaled.”
The prince had been joined in the meeting by his daughter Princess Beatrice, who took notes and appeared “anxious”, and his then-private secretary Amanda Thirsk, the producer said.
Afterwards, he claimed to be “going upstairs” to have tea with his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, to ask her advice.
The eventual interview saw Andrew make a series of claims, including that he could not sweat, give an alibi of being at Pizza Express and fail to express total regret for his association with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The disastrous fallout resulted in his “stepping down” from royal duties, and was followed by events that would lead to him to pay a multimillion-dollar settlement in a civil sex abuse case without admitting wrongdoing.
McAlister has now shared details of the Newsnight interview in her new book, Scoops: Behind The Scenes Of The BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews.
She describes how she was first contacted by a PR for the prince’s Pitch@Palace initiative asking if Newsnight would like an interview about young entrepreneurs, and declined.
A second attempt, in which the prince was willing to talk about anything except Epstein, was also turned down by the current affairs programme in May 2019. By November, after the arrest and death of Epstein and testimony from his victims, the prince’s team agreed to a meeting to discuss terms.
The interview was watched by Ms Thirsk, an equerry and the Newsnight team — without lawyers or palace press office staff.
Afterwards, realising how badly the interview had gone for the Duke, Ms McAlister said she “couldn’t go” on an offered tour of Buckingham Palace fearing she “wouldn’t have been able to speak to him in good faith”.
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Telegraph Media Group Limited