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Scoops: The BBC's Most Shocking Interviews from Prince Andrew to Steven Seagal

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I found Scoops to be utterly compelling reading, and Sam to be a terrific storyteller. I found myself as completely engrossed in her personal journey from barrister-to-journalist - largely while juggling responsibilities as a single mum - as I did in each of her individual “scoops”. But it’s also a very personal story about moving from a very rural upbringing into a cut-throat environment, and trying to achieve what most people would think impossible. It’s hard not to love Sam as she takes you on her very personal journey, and navigates her way through some of the most difficult Newsnight interviews. She is the woman who clinched the 2019 interview with Prince Andrew, described as ‘a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion’. She is many things beside: the first in her family to go to university; a trained barrister; a single mum; a master of persuasion. In her former BBC colleagues’ words, she was the ‘booker extraordinaire’, responsible for many of Newsnight’s exclusives over the past decade, including Stormy Daniels, Sean Spicer, Brigitte Höss, Steven Seagal, Mel Greig and Julian Assange.

She is the woman who clinched the 2019 interview with Prince Andrew, described as 'a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion'. She is many things beside: the first in her family to go to university; a trained barrister; a single mum; a master of persuasion. In her former BBC colleagues' words, she was the 'booker extraordinaire', responsible for many of Newsnight's exclusives over the past decade, including Stormy Daniels, Sean Spicer, Brigitte Hoess, Steven Seagal, Mel Greig and Julian Assange. What took place before and after the interview proves fairly eye-popping too. For the final negotiations about whether he’d publicly discuss accusations of sex with a 17-year-old girl, Andrew brought with him his daughter, Princess Beatrice. Once the interview was over, a beaming palace equerry exclaimed to McAlister: “Wasn’t he wonderful!” – a verdict with which the man himself, by then in “in fine spirits”, evidently concurred. She is the woman who clinched the 2019 interview with Prince Andrew, described as ‘a plane crashing into an oil tanker, causing a tsunami, triggering a nuclear explosion’. She is many things the first in her family to go to university; a trained barrister; a single mum; a master of persuasion. In her former BBC colleagues’ words, she was the ‘booker extraordinaire’, responsible for many of Newsnight ’s exclusives over the past decade, including Stormy Daniels, Sean Spicer, Brigitte Höss, Steven Seagal, Mel Greig and Julian Assange. Behind every great interview is a great booker – Sam McAlister is one of the unsung heroes of television news’ Piers Morgan Behind every great interview is a great booker – Sam McAlister is one of the unsung heroes of television news’ Piers MorganWithout Sam McAlister, it seems fair to say, Pizza Express in Woking would not have become one of Britain’s most famous restaurants. She it was who, as a Newsnight producer, bagged the Prince Andrew interview with Emily Maitlis that duly provides the big finish to her memoir of working on the programme. By the end of Scoops, there seems little doubt that McAlister’s decision to take voluntary redundancy – partly because of the decline in impartiality – was a loss to the BBC. Nonetheless, her over-detailed and sometimes uncomfortably boastful account as to why remains a distinctly patchy read.

For anyone seeking to go into journalism, it’s a must read – up there with Piers Morgan’s The Insider. It’s an exciting read that brings to life what it’s like to try and secure some of the world’s biggest and most exclusive interviews, with her saving *that* interview with Prince Andrew, the piece de resistance, till last.

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