Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis has said she only realised the significance of her interview with the Duke of York after watching the footage.
The Andrew interview, in which he was grilled over his relationship with billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, won scoop of the year at the Royal Television Society Awards while the BBC’s flagship current affairs show was also named daily news programme of the year.
Maitlis told Radio Times magazine the “penny dropped” about the importance of the interview in the editing suite with her programme’s editor, Esme Wren.
She said: “We’d assumed that he’d want to show empathy to the victims or pin the blame on Jeffrey Epstein. We couldn’t understand why he hadn’t done that. We definitely thought he’d be spikier…”
The interview had been a year in the planning and Maitlis said they could have opted for a shorter interview but held out for something more comprehensive.
She said within a few minutes of the interview beginning, she knew they had something “explosive”, adding: “First, he was tackling the subject matter head on.
“Secondly, the lack of apology or any real expression of regret told me that the prince still believed that his actions had broadly been the right ones.
“And thirdly, the level of detail was unlike anything I was expecting.”
Maitlis’s interview with Andrew has earned Newsnight a nomination in the news coverage category at this year’s Bafta Television Awards.
The fallout from the interview saw the duke withdraw from public duties after he was widely criticised for failing to show remorse for his friendship with Epstein, and little empathy with the sex offender’s alleged victims.
He has also been urged to come forward and be interviewed about his friendship with Epstein, calls that were renewed after his friend Ghislaine Maxwell appeared in court accused of facilitating Epstein’s sexual exploitation of underage girls.
The duke’s legal team has stressed he has made three offers to help US prosecutors.