Sam McAlister is a former criminal law barrister turned TV producer who spent a decade negotiating, securing and producing exclusive BBC interviews with some of the world's most high profile personalities. As of September 2023, she is also a Visiting Senior Fellow at LSE Law, teaching negotiation.
As the BAFTA-nominated interviews producer on BBC 2's flagship news programme Newsnight, Sam's role was to facilitate head-to-head pieces with wide-ranging subjects from Silicon Valley CEOs and world leaders to Hollywood superstars. In doing so, she has negotiated with organisations from Buckingham Palace to The White House and from Facebook to Tesla.
Most notably, Sam McAlister led year-long negotiations for the groundbreaking interview with HRH Prince Andrew. The first time a senior royal had agreed to such a journalistic interview, and in the midst of an international scandal, it went on to make headlines around the world and have a serious impact on the Royal Family itself.
Working in a largely unseen role, Sam McAlister undertakes the delicate negotiations that underpin some of the biggest exclusive interviews in British news. From the initial approaches, through research and up to the filming itself, she builds, manages and maintains relationships with subjects and their representatives whilst all the time retaining journalistic integrity.
Exclusive interviews Sam has secured include Sheryl Sandberg, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President Bill Clinton, Elon Musk, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, comedian Trevor Noah, James Comey, Stormy Daniels and Google co-founder Eric Schmidt.
As well as the subjects themselves, she also worked closely with broadcasters including Emily Maitlis, Jeremy Paxman, Kirsty Wark, Evan Davis and Emma Barnett to brief them, write questions and rehearse the carefully planned features. She was also responsible for briefing them on topics as broad as Brexit, US politics, geopolitical issues, identity politics and culture.
In 2022, Sam’s memoir Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews was released.
With skills honed over a decade in the BBC's elite news programme, Sam McAlister is used to persuading reluctant individuals to participate in a news programme renowned for its rigour and bite.
Negotiation, strategy and public speaking have always been at the heart of everything that Sam has done — from her time as a criminal defence barrister to her many public speaking and debating prizes, and her dealings with celebrities and governments.