Masterpiece Theatre: Scoop

Scoop, a one-part adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel is exceptionally well done — it’s shrewd, mean, and funny, entirely in keeping with the tone of Waugh’s 1938 satire of big-time London journalism. Our hero, sweet, shy William Boot (Michael Maloney), lives in the country and writes a nature column for the Daily Beast. Through a series of misunderstandings, the fatuous publisher of the London paper (Donald Pleasence) insists on sending this wilting flower off to cover a war in faraway Ishmaelia. As a foreign correspondent, Boot is hopeless — but also spectacularly successful, stumbling onto scoops and thoroughly unnerving his cynical news-hound rivals. Waugh’s book was based on his own time spent stationed in Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) as a correspondent for the Daily Mail in 1935. The adaptation of Scoop has been handled by the novelist William Boyd (A Good Man in Africa), no mean satirist himself; Boyd understands that this was Waugh’s most out-and-out comic novel, and so he doesn’t drench the jokes in icy irony. Maloney is beguilingly goofy, and he receives strong, hilarious support from Denholm Elliott (A Room With a View) as the newspaper’s harried foreign editor and Renee Soutendijk as Boot’s pouty love interest. A

Masterpiece Theatre: Scoop
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