Hit Dutch reality show The Traitors was snapped up by BBC1 for a reality/challenge series that's now aired in the UK; a US version of The Traitors is also coming to the US. If you're looking for a reality show packed full of savage twists and turns, look no further than this 12-part psychological game of deception hosted by Claudia Winkleman.
The first series of the UK show featured 22 contestants, including a magician, cheerleading coach, author, pensioner, BMX athlete, spa therapist, and property developer who were tasked with rooting out who they could trust. The first series is now over, though there are hopes that The Traitors season 2 will soon be confirmed by the BBC.
In The Traitors, a small selection from the group was secretly selected by Claudia to be "Traitors" who were given the chance to remove the remaining "Faithfuls" by "murdering" one each night. Meanwhile, the traitors were banished from the castle if they were identified as traitor by the rest of the group. Working out who’s who is a nightmare and it’s absolutely no holds barred in the game-playing as the winner could walk away with up to £120,000.
Of the show, Claudia Winkleman said: “I’m obsessed by psychological games and I couldn’t stop watching the Dutch version of the show. The fact that the BBC version is set in a castle in Scotland and the producers want me to wear tweed meant I was all in.”
Here's everything you need to know about The Traitors first series...
The Traitors release date
All twelve episodes of The Traitors first series have now aired in the UK, though you can get caught up with the series on BBC iPlayer.
The Traitors — how it works
The Traitors sees contestants move into a majestic castle in the Scottish Highlands and work as a team to complete a series of dramatic and challenging missions to earn money for the prize pot. But three of the contestants are secretly traitors, who will attempt to deceive and manipulate their way to the prize by eliminating "loyal" contestants. Can all the traitors be unmasked in time?
It's an intense psychological game in which players must decide who they can trust. In each episode, the players work together to complete spectacular physical and mental missions. If they are successful, they add money to a prize pot, which is worth up to £120,000. But to win the prize pot, players must survive to the end of the game – they must avoid being ‘murdered’ or ‘banished’.
At the start of the game, a small number of players are secretly selected by Claudia Winkleman to be The Traitors. The rest of the players are known as ‘The Faithful’ and none of The Faithful know who The Traitors are. Players are eliminated in one of two ways; each night, The Traitors meet in secret and decide to ‘murder’ one of The Faithful and next morning when the group meet for breakfast the ‘murdered’ player does not appear. Then, later in the day, all the players meet at the ‘Round Table’ and decide to ‘banish’ a player they suspect of being a Traitor. Whomever they pick will then reveal if they are indeed a Traitor or a Faithful. At the end of the game, the few remaining players will share the prize pot if they are all Faithful, but if there is still a Traitor among them, the Traitor takes all the prize money.
Is there a trailer for The Traitors?
Yes a trailer for The Traitors has released by the BBC. 'We're all traitors mate!' says one contestant. Take a look below...
Interview: Claudia Winkleman on hosting The Traitors
Can you tell us how The Traitors works?
Claudia says: "The Traitors is in essence a psychological reality show where players must decide who they can trust. They bond, make friends, and spend their days working together as a team to complete spectacular physical and mental missions to add money to a prize pot. But all is not as it seems, because hidden among the group are some Traitors - players I secretly selected at the start of the game, which the viewers will see for themselves. Everyone else is known as the ‘Faithful’, and none of the Faithful know who the Traitors are."
Why did you decide you wanted to be involved?
Claudia says: "Very sweetly, Kate [Phillips, the BBC’s Director of Unscripted content] asked me to do it, and I said, ‘thank you so much, but no.’ She said, ‘why don’t you just watch the Dutch version and then decide’, so I did - and nobody got fed, I didn’t brush my teeth, I was so obsessed that I phoned Kate and said ‘I’ve booked a train, I’m going to Scotland now! It’s a game of smarts - not as in ‘I’ve got four degrees’, a game of wit. I’ve never seen anything like it. The missions are good, the people are nice, and I’m dressing like Princess Anne mixed with Ronnie Corbett!"
What did you learn from hosting The Traitors?
Claudia says: "Well, I learned that qualifications are a complete waste of time, which is a shame - do not tell my kids! I also learned that you’re not necessarily backing who you think you’re going to back. It was really interesting for me - I surprised myself that I was with the Traitors! But then, I was also with the Faithfuls. What was weird was I knew too much, so I couldn’t get that close to them. In work normally I’m like ‘come on, sew the jacket’ [when Claudia hosted The Great British Sewing Bee from 2013-2016], or ‘you can foxtrot!’ - here, I had to be slightly distant. I’m watching people charm and smart their way into winning, it’s very different."
How did you pick the Traitors?
Claudia says: "I interview all of them, and I say, ‘do you want to be a Traitor or a Faithful?’ There were some that said ‘Faithful’, and I was like, ‘but you’d be such a good Traitor!’ I read all their CVs, I watched videos of them, and I knew who we wanted to be the Traitors - but one absolutely changed in that chat, so that was fascinating. We wanted it to be a real mix, because it’s quite a lot to take on. They have to come back at midnight and murder, so we chose people who would enjoy that - basically we picked the people who really wanted it."
Were the UK contestants just as devious as the players on the Dutch version?
Claudia says: "The same - we’re right up there! I think a lot of people came for the thrill, to be on telly, and then it all changed that first night - all of a sudden, everybody’s playing a game. They make a lot of money, so that’s nice, but when they’re walking, when they’re having breakfast, they’re sizing each other up, and the Traitors are working out who to murder so it can’t come back to them. But then there’s the double bluffs - and the triple bluffs!"
Your look for the series is very eye-catching - did you have lots of ideas for it?
Claudia says: "If you think the outfits start weird, by episode 10 I look like Adam Ant! At one point, quite tired, I turned to Sarah [Fay, the executive producer] quite seriously and went, ‘I’d like a falcon’. For a minute we were both like, ‘well, you should probably have the falcon, that would make sense.’ I lost my mind!"
Tweed features quite heavily. How did you approach your look for the series? It's obviously quite a departure from Strictly and the sequins.
Claudia says: "Well, I mean, this is my dream wardrobe and what I have wanted to wear but I've never been to the countryside so I've never worn it before. I have got a brilliant girl who gets all my clothes for Strictly and we were like let’s go for a touch of Ronnie Corbett, a bit of Princess Anne and Madonna when she married Guy Richie. I don’t know whether you can use any of those references! The clothing was amazing. We wanted to be respectful but we also did want to wear a lot of tweed and then somebody showed me Alan Cummings look book as he has done the American version. I was like, guys, we're all right."
What was it like being part of a show that was so different from Strictly and showing off that slightly darker side of yourself?
Claudia says: "I really wanted to just be a little ball of positivity, but that wouldn't have worked. That would have ruined the game. If I'd have gone yes, you're right and you’re doing brilliantly and by the way, you chose a traitor it would have ruined it. So I had to do it in a different way. I slightly had to take a step back and watch them kill each other."
Meet the contestants on The Traitors
Here's our brief rundown of the 22 contestants on The Traitors on BBC1 in 2022...
Aisha - Faithful, murdered
Occupation: Masters Graduate
Aisha says: "When I was at university and in lockdown, my friends always said, ‘we think you'd be good on reality TV.’ Also, I've gone to university, I've got a Masters degree, but I do come out with some silly things at times. I wanted to go on one of these shows to prove that I can do it and remind people not to underestimate me, that was one of my motivations. I'm really going to be myself and have fun with it. I'm a talker, I'll talk a lot and I'll be very honest. I'm a big oversharer and I don't really have a filter for things. That's why people underestimate me, because I'll say things that other people wouldn't say, no filter, I don't care. So, because of that, I think people will think ‘there's no way this girl's a Traitor, she would have given it away by now."
Aaron - Faithful
Job title: Property Agent
Aaron says: "When I first heard about the show, the main things that interested me were the fact I was going to come to Scotland and meet new people, then that developed further down the line, and I wanted to do the challenges more. Since hearing what the challenges are about, that's the biggest thing that's excited me. I've got a background in sales, so I'll be able to read people quite well. Body language, personality, that aspect. I’m also quite a happy chappy so I reckon I won't be too intense. I’ll bring quite a lot of energy to the game."
Amanda - Traitor
Job title: Estate Agent
Amanda says: "I've always liked watching reality TV, but they're always geared towards the younger generation. When I was 20, or 25, there weren't that many reality TV shows out there. That was something that appealed to me, as well as the logic behind the game, the secrecy. I think I can read people very well, so I really fancied having a go. I've been an estate agent for many, many years. I think I can bring good personality and I think I'd be a good ambassador for 50-plus-year-old women to get out there and show that we can still be active and get into reality TV shows. I like to call myself a Glam Ma, rather than a Grandma. Plus, I've met thousands of people through my career and I'm pretty good at reading between the lines of people. I do have a game plan. I'm going to think of it as a sales venture so I'm not going to get over friendly with anybody and think of this as a work challenge. I've always brought my children up to do 100 percent. If you really try 100 percent in anything, whether it be physical or mental and you don't win, then you know you've done your best. You're not letting yourself down."
Occupation: Presenter and Actor
Alex says: "When I looked into it, I thought it seemed like a really interesting concept. There hasn't been a reality show like this. Something based on strategy and an adventure in the Scottish Highlands. I thought ‘why not? Let’s see where this goes and see what happens. It's not all about appearances and it focuses on thinking tactically and how you can manoeuvre yourself in sticky situations. Also, I love the physical element, the fact that there are going to be missions and adventures such as potentially abseiling down the side of a cliff in order earn more for the prize pool, or potentially horse riding through the mountains. Something along those lines is right up my street. From what I've determined from the show concept, I think whatever you do you're going to be a suspect and everyone will be suspicious of everybody else. I think my game plan is to keep a low profile, be myself, be friendly, nice and try to be a team player – that's the best approach I can think of."
Alyssa - Traitor, banished
Job title: Business Student
From: Grew up in rural West Cork, now lives in Edinburgh
Alyssa says: "I love to challenge myself, I really like pushing my boundaries and just getting out there. This is something that I would never usually do, I don't have any experience with TV shows, so I wanted to give this a shot. When I started reading up about the show and what to expect I thought ‘Hold on, this is actually something that I think I'd be very good at and have a chance of winning."
Claire - Faithful, murdered
Occupation: Ex-Police Officer and entrepreneur
Claire says: "In my working life, my ex-career being policing and my new career founding my own business, I'm used to reading people quite well. Sometimes without them even speaking I've already read them and usually nine times out of ten, I'm right. I've been a mum since I was quite young so predominantly, I've never had the time to do anything just for me. This was a brilliant opportunity and a show I'd be really good at, a chance for me to test and challenge myself. To see how far I can push myself when I'm not being a mum, when I'm not working, when I'm not doing all of the Cinderella things that come with being a parent and a brand builder, and all of those things."
Amos - Faithful, eliminated
From: North London
Amos says: "When I heard the concept, I thought it sounded pretty cool. The fact that it was quite psychological and involved some thinking and strategy, interested me. Also, to explore how good I am at reading people and making judgments about their character and intentions based on very little information, I wanted to test that. I’d worked as a doctor for three years through the pandemic on the frontline and wanted to do something that was slightly different, something for myself."
Job title: Retired
Amanda says: "A few months ago, I saw the details about a new programme, The Traitors, and I just thought ‘why the hell not?’ It's as simple as that. What interested me about the concept was doing the missions. I don’t mind eliminating anybody and all the rest of it, but it was the idea of doing the missions and challenges that I liked. I'll bring my age and my experience to the game, which does help. I'm a happy person, so I hope to bring that as well, mixed in with the suspicion. I want to give the game a sense of enjoyment, although this may not be what the game is about at all..."
Job title: Head of School Welfare
Fay says: "The concept was obviously very appealing. I'm also coming to the end of my long and wonderful career in education. I've been at the same establishment for 29 years. I worked myself through the steps, I started on the ground floor and every five years my job evolved, where now I'm at the top of my game, I'm on the senior leader team. It's taken me a while to get there, however, I've always said that I'm going to retire at 60 and I'm 60 next February...people are shocked when I tell them that."
Job title: Scientist
Imran says: "When looking at the concept of the show, the idea that you have Traitors existing simultaneously with Faithfuls and how to discern the difference between the two, fundamentally is a social science question. I come from a background where I do a lot of academically strong sciences. There are certain academic principles that I've practiced in my profession, and I wanted to see if that could be applied in a very social science setting, which is the main reason for me being on the show."
Hannah says: "I’m a complete excitement seeker for sure, but particularly this show because my friends and I used to play a board game that’s quite similar. I’m not really a games person, I get quite bored with them but secretly that’s a game I really loved. Also, I liked the idea of spending all this time outside of your normal world with no phone or communication, just focusing on this. I think it's one of those opportunities that you're not going to get ever again."
Ivan - Faithful, banished
Job title: Author
Ivan says: "I'm obsessed with games, and I recently wrote a couple of books full of hundreds of games that groups of friends or families would play together. I’m fixated on the way that games fit together and strategies on how to win. Most of my job is running games sessions, I run big games nights. I'm always writing them and never playing them, I feel like I've built up this huge reservoir of strategies and opportunities, but I’ve never got a chance to try them all out. This is a lifelong love mixed with a frustration that I never get to actually play."
Kieran - Faithful, eliminated
Occupation: Solutions Consultant
Kieran says: "I first heard about it on Instagram, and the way the show was described to me caught my interest. I've never done anything like this before ever, some TV shows would not be of interest to me whatsoever. However, this had a pretty cool twist and stood out for quite a few reasons. Firstly, the BBC are doing it and secondly, the format is new. My first initial reaction was... it sounds intriguing. The prize is obviously in the background but for me, I've always wanted to do something with TV and sometimes fate deals you unusual cards, and here we are today. It’s something that’s always appealed to me, I've been around the block a bit. I've done sales for quite a long time and I used to run event management and so I'm used to dealing with people from all walks of life and characters on many different levels. I'm good at reading people, spotting situations, good at judging and also not judging. Nine times out of ten your gut gives you an intuition and I think my skill set in regards to reading people, gives me a strong mindset for the game."
John - Faithful, murdered
Occupation: Spa Therapist
John says: "I was scrolling on social media one day in between my day job and the advertisement came out, the title really grabbed me. When I read the article, I thought it sounded like a really interesting experience, something that's never been done before and I liked the fact that they were doing it in Scotland. I sent a little video and thought nothing else of it, it was a bit of a whirlwind. The location being Scotland is what drew me to it as well, being a Scotsman, I've lived in London for a long time and I'd moved back just 18 months ago and if I was lucky enough to be the winner, winning something in my homeland, I'd be the king of the castle, the King of Scotland."
Meryl - Faithful
Check age: 25
Occupation: Call Centre Agent
Meryl says: "The fact that it's brand new interested me the most. The fact that it's the first time it will be filmed in the UK, there is nothing that people can compare it to and I can make my mark on it. It sounds like a really good experience, especially up in the Scottish Highlands as I live in Scotland. I really like the idea of Traitors, the fact that you have to suss out who's lying. I thought it'd be a really, really good experience and something new to try and that’s why I'm going to go for it. I’ll bring a different insight because I see the world differently. I have dwarfism. So, in that sense, my different view of situations and a different perspective. And, I can bring my personality!"
Maddy - Faithful
Maddy says: "I absolutely love crime dramas so when I heard about this show I was really interested and thought oh my god, I could definitely give it a bash. A lot of people think I'm quite ditsy and silly. I want to show people I'm more with it and not to judge me straight away."
Theo - Faithful,
Occupation: Cheerleading Coach
Theo says: "I applied to push myself out of my comfort zone. It was the concept for the game that got me interested and the fear of the unknown. I've always liked to push myself out of my comfort zone and try new things. I'm a coach by day so I always like to lead by example and show people that anything's possible when you work hard and push yourself to strive to achieve greatness. My game plan is to be myself and let people fall in love with me. To get people to do their best and to help them believe in themselves. I always like to be that strong character and tell people they can do it and make them believe. I’d definitely like to motivate others to help them succeed, that's my game plan."
Nicky - Faithful, banished
Job title: Accounts Supervisor
From: South Croydon
Nicky says: "I love a challenge. I'm always up for doing something, I'm quite fearless like that. I thought ‘why not?’... in for a penny in for a pound."
Matt - Faithful, murdered
Occupation: BMX Athlete
Matt says: "The first time I heard about The Traitors I was really hungover on a train. It came up and I thought it sounded like a laugh... and now I'm in Scotland. All my mates say that I'm the idiot of the group and they think I'm a bit stupid. I think I will prove a point to them that I'm not as stupid as I make out sometimes…or maybe I am. I don't know!"
Rayan - Faithful, banished
Job title: Trainee Lawyer
From: North London
Rayan says: "It sounds like a really exciting new show that involves a lot of strategy and drama, and that's the sort of stuff I was looking for. I’m a bit of a drama queen really and I love getting all up in everybody else's affairs. Being a drama queen, a gameplayer and an agent of chaos I thought this was a perfect game for me. I'm excited by the prospect of getting a license to backstab everyone! I’ve done my research. It all sounds insane and that’s exactly the kind of chaos I'm looking for."
Tom - Faithful, banished
Job title: Magician
Tom says: "I’m a magician and I love fooling and tricking people. I get great satisfaction out of spending hours upon hours building up anticipation for this one moment. When it came to this show I loved the idea that I'd possibly build up a fake character of myself to try and deceive people just for that payoff of knowing that I could deceive them. I liked the challenge of it all, making my magic tricks real almost. I want to make a load of new friends if anything, and I'm all for taking a challenge and I love having a go at the unknown. My motivation is mainly because I love to be challenged and pushed out of my comfort zone, and this is beyond my comfort zone. I'm going to give it my best shot and do it with a smile on my face."
Wilfred - Traitor
Occupation: Senior Fundraiser
From: North London
Wilfred says: "I work within the face-to-face fundraising industry, and I've learnt over the years to be able to positively persuade people to take positive action. So instead of using these skills for positive, this is a chance to be able to use them to manipulate instead. My motivation is many different things. My children and my Fiancée being number one, and I’d also like to see if I can persuade people and slowly manipulate them. Even if I'm not a Traitor. I love tactics, I love playing a game and I love coming up with strategies. Being able to put the strategies that I've come up with into play is my motivation. And also, who doesn't want to win loads of money, right? That's a good motivation."
The Traitors episode guide
Here's our episode guide for The Traitors which we'll be updating as the series progress, so do check back...
Episode 1: Tuesday November 29, 9pm
Claudia Winkleman greets 22 strangers as they arrive at a beautiful castle in the Scottish Highlands to play the ultimate game of detection, backstabbing and trust, in the hope of winning up to £120,000. It’s not long before the players are questioning everything, and everyone, as Claudia secretly assigns three Traitors. It is up to The Traitors, under the cover of darkness, to pick off their fellow players called Faithfuls one by one, ‘murdering’ them from the game. The rest of the players, the Faithful, must try to work out who the Traitors are amongst the group, and banish them from the game before they become their next victim. For the lucky ones who survive to the end, they have the chance of winning that life-changing cash. But if a Traitor remains undetected, they’ll win all the money. With alliances forming, and suspicions rife already, will the Traitors be able to survive their first day undetected? And who will they decide to murder first from the game?
Episode 2: Wednesday November 30, 9.15pm
The game of detection, backstabbing and trust, suddenly becomes very real for the players as it’s revealed who has been murdered in the night by the Traitors - leaving the Faithful reeling, and the Traitors trying their best not to arouse suspicion. And as accusations start to fly, the group are sent on another mission to continue building money for the prize pot. As evening starts to descend, attention turns back to who the Traitors could be, as the players head to the Round Table for the first dramatic banishment. But will the faithful be able to catch a Traitor, or will they unknowingly banish one of their own?
Episode 3: Thursday December 1, 9pm
There are tears and anger over the breakfast table as the news of the second faithful to be ‘murdered’ in the night by The Traitors is discovered. The players are sent into a spin as they discover more about each other in the mission. And a dramatic showdown at the round table results in another player being banished from the game – but are they a Traitor or a Faithful? As the players reel from yet another day of treachery, as evening descends Claudia has one more surprise twist up her sleeve for The Traitors.
Episode 4: Tuesday December 6, 9.15pm (football dependent)
With Claudia’s revelation throwing the castle into chaos, Breakfast reaches a dramatic climax, and the levels of distrust reach boiling point. Before the dust has even had a chance to settle, the players must momentarily put their differences aside as they face another Mission – where they are given the chance to add a potential £10,000 to the already growing prize pot. And with a tense round table on the horizon, one player has an extremely difficult decision to make.
Episode 5: Wednesday December 7, 9pm
Tempers around the round table are more frayed than ever as another player is sent home. And with the Traitors set to murder again, the Faithful are even more determined to catch a Traitor in the act. But not even the Traitors are prepared for the surprises in store at the mission, as the gameplay and strategy ramps up to new levels as Claudia proves that the castle really is full of secrets.
Episode 6: Thursday December 8, 9pm
With the stakes getting higher and the Faithfuls feeling like they are on the backfoot, can they change the course of the game, and put the traitors under fire? With life-changing money still at stake, the players must also remain focused on building the prize pot in a mission that sees them go to new depths of despair. But that’s the least of their worries, with an explosive Round Table on the horizon.
Episode 7: Wednesday 14 December, 9pm
We shall update soon.
Episode 8: Thursday 15 December, 9pm
With the players past the halfway mark, breakfast isn't without its usual trepidation as the Faithfuls nervously wait to see who the Traitors murdered overnight. However, that's not the only news to come out of the morning, as one player reveals a huge bombshell that leaves the group reeling and relationships in doubt. Despite the dramatic revelation, the group members must head deep into the woods in order to complete another epic mission and increase the prize pot. On their return host Claudia Winkleman throws a huge twist to the game
Episode 9: Friday 16 December, 9pm
The previous night's party games leave the players with more than just a hangover. With one participant already regretting their actions, relationships are tested and accusations start to fly. At the mission, it's a race against the clock to add more gold to the prize pot and with the round table looming one player's decision stuns the group changing the game for the Traitors and sending shock waves around the castle. Claudia Winkleman hosts the tension-filled reality game show
Episode 10: Tuesday 20 December, 9pm
We shall update soon.
Episode 11: Wednesday 21 December, 9pm
We shall update soon.
Episode 12 (final): Thursday 22 December, 9pm
We shall update soon.
The Traitors location
The producers of The Traitors have yet to announce where in the Scottish Highlands filming took place, or the Scottish castle featured. The area however is full of amazing mountains and lakes in this truly beautiful part of Britain so will form a stunning backdrop to the series.
More about The Traitors
The Traitors is produced by recently announced Studio Lambert Scotland. Mike Cotton, deputy creative director of Studio Lambert, says: “The series is a nail-biting psychological adventure game and Claudia is a huge fan of the format and is the perfect puppet master to oversee this dramatic game set in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.”
Kate Phillips, Director of Entertainment, BBC Commissioning, says: “The Traitors is a high stakes entertainment series full of false promises and paranoia. Set against the stunning Scottish landscape, I can’t wait for these very different 'Highland Games' to begin where the biggest rule of all is trust no one!”
Jenny Groom, Executive Vice President, Entertainment Unscripted Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming adds: “The Traitors is a gripping social experiment and we can’t wait to bring this to the US as a Peacock original series. Studio Lambert has had amazing success with immersive formats and we are excited to partner with them on this. We know that US audiences will absolutely love the twists and turns of the show.”
“We are hugely excited to be making two versions of a show with spectacular challenges and mind games involving suspicion and trust,” adds Studio Lambert CEO, Stephen Lambert. “The Scottish Highlands offers some of the most stunning scenery in the world and we’re delighted both NBCU and the BBC agreed this was where we should bring our American and British contestants to play the game.”
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I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus Whattowatch.com. I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.