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  Opinion   Columnists  14 Apr 2024  Kishwar Desai | Scoops spotlights Andrew infamy; meet Varada Sethu, rising TV star

Kishwar Desai | Scoops spotlights Andrew infamy; meet Varada Sethu, rising TV star

Kishwar Desai, is the chair of the Arts and Cultural Heritage Trust, which is setting up the Partition Museum at Town Hall, Amritsar.
Published : Apr 15, 2024, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Apr 15, 2024, 12:05 am IST

Netflix's 'Scoop' delves into Prince Andrew's controversial ties with Jeffrey Epstein, revealing a dim and self-obsessed character.

Prince Andrew's portrayal in 'Scoop' evokes mixed feelings of pity and outrage. (Image: Twitter)
 Prince Andrew's portrayal in 'Scoop' evokes mixed feelings of pity and outrage. (Image: Twitter)

Prince Andrew was never on the centrestage of the monarchy. Like Prince Harry, he was unlikely to be King, so he was allowed to play the field, marry the fun-loving Sarah Ferguson, and carry on his merry way content to be known as “Randy” Andy. He was the Queen’s favourite son, however, and that got him through life without being irreparably scalded, till he met Jeffery Epstein. Now that relationship with the convicted sex offender is the centrestage of Scoop, a Netflix film, which frankly evokes pity for him along with outrage. 

Like many wealthy but not very intelligent men of “influence”, Prince Andrew was obviously used by Epstein (through his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell) to further his career. And again his propensity to “talk” walks him into the trap set carefully by the clever BBC journalists looking for the defining scoop which eventually leads to the removal of Prince Andrew from public duties as a royal. 

Yes, there was anger when this interview came out in 2019: The fact that Prince Andrew may have had sex with the underage Virginia Giuffre (never publicly admitted) and that he continued to meet Epstein even after he had been convicted as a sex offender — made us question his judgement as well as of those who were advising him. And so this re-enactment of that moment in a film holds no surprises. But it does add another sorry chapter in the life and times of the royals, especially when the makers of the film project him as a slightly dim, self-obsessed man — who still has stuffed animals on his bed, and appears to get more upset when they are not properly arranged, than he does with the interview with Emily Maitlis, the BBC journalist who gets him to admit his connection with Epstein, on air. 

Maitlis herself comes across (played by the marvellous Gillian Anderson) as a diva created by a powerful show Newsnight — coiffed hair, stilettos, skinny pants and dog on a leash teetering across BBC. None of it looks like BBC’s finest hour. 

Well — it seems a rival “scoop” on this story will come out on Amazon in a three part series. Scoop is certainly not earth shaking stuff — and the only revelation that has got people excited is Prince Andrew’s bare backside revealed when he gets out of a bathtub. But even that is actually is a prosthetic used by the actor playing the Prince. 

But before Labour comes to power in the next election it is helpful to remind ourselves that they were not exactly scandal free, even in the past. Harold Wilson became Prime Minister in his 40s and dominated British politics in the ’60s and ’70s. His secretary Marcia Williams was an astute and politically powerful personality who ended up in the House of Lords upon Wilson’s retirement. It was rumoured that this was because of an affaire de coeur. Now we learn that it was not Marcia but someone younger — Janet Davies — who was assistant to Joe Haines, Wilson’s press officer, who was the person in question. Wilson died in the ’90s. But Janet was alive till last year. So Joe Haines (himself in his 90s) kept the secret gallantly and only now has let the real name drop. It seems Janet was a great source of strength for Wilson through difficult times. We will never know whether Mary Wilson, his wife, knew and what she thought of the affair as she is no more.

One former Prime Minister’s wife who has successfully reinvented herself is Samantha Cameron — or “Sam Cam” as she was known when David Cameron was Prime Minister. He has now refashioned himself as the foreign secretary — and she as a very successful fashion designer with some very practical and pretty dresses to wear the whole day through. Opening a store called “Cefinn” in Belgravia appears very brave at a time when everything is being bought online — till one finds out that she has some staunch Tory backers for her labe… But to be honest, the designs are very wearable — and both she and Akshata Murty have been seen in them, so all success to her!

Varada Sethu is not yet a household name in India — but watch out for her. The Kerala-born actress is breaking into big shows in the UK — and the latest is in the long-running TV series, Dr Who — which is becoming an ode to diversity in many ways. The lead actor, Ncuti Gatwa, playing Dr Who, is Black, and he will now have two adventurous justice seekers by his side — Millie Gibson from Coronation Street and Varada. Following the success of Bridgerton, and One Day — it’s great to see more actors of Indian origin, especially women, land leading roles.

Tags: prince andrew, jeffrey epstein, netflix scoop