The Traitors

The Traitors



Claudia Winkleman


BBC Two and BBC Sounds coverage (The Traitors: Uncloaked): Ed Gamble


Studio Lambert Scotland for BBC One, 29 November 2022 to present

The Traitors: Uncloaked:

Listen for BBC Sounds and BBC Two, 5 January 2024 to present


Twenty-two contestants compete in a series of physical and mental challenges to add money in the pot for a possible maximum prize of up to £120,000. But three of them have been selected to be "The Traitors". The others - "The Faithful" - must root out and banish the Traitors to stay in the game.

Each day, the players vote to eliminate one of their number, the person who they think is most likely to be a Traitor. Each night, the Traitors decide to eliminate one of the other players. If any Traitors do last to the end of the series, they will scoop the prize pot. The Faithful are to find and eliminate all of the Traitors; if they succeed, they'll split the prize equally between themselves.

Some of the contestants wait for the train to arrive.

The Traitors set out its stall in the first fifteen minutes. We meet the contestants - some are on a station platform, others are already aboard a luxury steam train. It's a taste of the high life, sipping tea from china cups while nibbling at dainty sandwiches. Then they're all in a fleet of cars, heading to the castle.

On arrival at Ardrossan Castle, host Claudia Winkleman asks the contestants to sort themselves in order from most likely to win, to least likely to win. Kieran and Amos say they're least likely to win. Claudia responds,

"Every decision has a consequence. You two think you're going to lose, I'm going to take you at your word. So it is goodbye. I'd like you to leave the grounds. Immediately."

Wow! Bit of a wasted journey! Within the first 12 minutes, before anyone's so much as stepped across the castle threshold, two people have been eliminated from the game. Shocking! Unexpected! "Now, who's up for a cup of tea and a magical scone?" asks the host, moving from heartless to hearty in the blink of an eye.

Our emotions have been up and down, we've been comfortable and discomforted, secure and shocked. All in the blink of an eye. The rest of the series continues on this wild rollercoaster ride of emotions.

There is absolutely no chance to play along with The Traitors. As a viewer, you will not get to try and detect the traitors. Instead, we get to see everything that happens - we know a lot more than the Faithful, we know more than the Traitors. It's a textbook example of "dramatic irony", where the viewer knows more about what's happening than the characters do.

Show me the show

Andrea and Wilfred arrive for another day.

Dawn breaks over the Scottish highlands. The players have spent the night in their own individual lodgings, separated from each other.

Small groups enter a large dining room, laden with an attractive breakfast spread. In dribs and drabs, ones and twos, all of the players still in the game – the Faithful, and the Traitors – enter the room.

All? No! One of the Faithful is pulled aside to open a letter. "By order of The Traitors, you have been murdered."

Whoever doesn't turn up to breakfast has been eliminated from the game, bumped off by the Traitors. They don't get to say goodbye to anyone, the group only finds out when someone doesn't walk through the door.

Each show has a mission to win cash for the prize pot. Identify a sheep. Get out of an escape room. Dig people out of graves. Cross a river on a rickety bridge while blindfolded. That sort of thing.

The mission serves two purposes: yes, it builds up the prize to concentrate people's minds. It's also something away from the main game, a mental break so people aren't brooding about the game all day and all night. Studio Lambert took everyone's mental health as seriously as their physical health, with psychologists available during and after filming.

Wilfred tries to steal a big statue.

In the middle of the series, most of the challenges carried an "Armoury pass" for the most successful players – it gave entry to a secret room where there's an immunity shield. Whoever has that shield cannot be murdered by the traitors. But they can be voted out – the shield will protect from murder, but not democracy.

Eventually, the players gather at the round table and discuss who they suspect is a Traitor. Who should leave? What suspicions do you have? Why do you have them? How are the Traitors acting; will they work together, or will they try to expose each other? We viewers have been privy to discussions earlier in the day, they help us to foreshadow how tonight's discussion will go.

A very large round table discussion.

At the end of the discussion, the players vote, by writing a name on a piece of slate with a chalk. Whoever's got the most votes leaves. Before they're shown to the door, the banished player tells if they were Faithful, or if they were a Traitor.

Standing in the circles of truth, Tom spills all.

Whether they voted off a faithful, or lucked on a traitor, the remaining players slope off to the other rooms in the castle. When the clock strikes midnight, all of the players are driven away to their own rooms, soundproof and away from the others. They can relax, unwind, sleep – if they can.

But while the others are away, the Traitors will play. Gathered in a spooky turret, identity hidden under hooded cloaks, the Traitors plot. Who will they eliminate tonight? Who has been stirring up trouble? Who hasn't been trouble, but might be asking questions and unhelpful in the future?

A decision is made, a warrant is signed and passed to Claudia. Whose name is on the paper? That's for the next episode, when we find who isn't coming to breakfast...

Claudia sends chills down everyone's spines.

Claudia Winkleman brought bags of energy to the host's role, enthusiasm and wit and a soft encouragement. She shared in the highs, consoled in the lows, and knew that food and drink is the way to people's hearts. During the roundtable discussions, Claudia lurked ominously in the background, like she was feeding from the chaos and nervous worrying she'd unleashed.

Throughout the series, Claudia brought an undercurrent of decadence, we felt like the whole thing was always just about to tip over into drunken debauchery – on one night, she threw a lavish and boozy dinner party, then the next morning consoled everyone knowing that they were all badly hung over.

Casting in the first series was superb: a proper cross-section of society, a friendly and open group who bonded well. The initial Traitors were a microcosm of the group. They didn't always get so lucky in later series.

The show was wonderfully edited, had a well-considered soundtrack, and the look melded well with the location.

And viewers loved it. The first episode went out after the England vs Wales match in football's World Cup. Viewing figures and online chatter rose throughout the series, culminating in the surprise twists of the final episode.

Let the challenge... return.

The public demanded a further series, the public got a further series, and the public watched a further series. January 2024 was dominated by The Traitors, with over eight million people watching the series final. There were some tweaks to the format (most notably, shields were collected during the missions, rather than afterwards), but most of the format was familiar from last time round.

Series two also gained a spin-off show, The Traitors Uncloaked. Described as a "visualised podcast", it was commissioned for BBC Sounds from audio experts Listen, and recorded a few days before transmission. Ed Gamble and guests discussed the events of the show we'd just seen, and chatted with the eliminated contestants.

A third series of The Traitors was commissioned in November 2023, even before we'd seen the second run.

Key moments

We viewers knew that Tom and Alex were in a relationship. Both told their story to camera in the first episode, and Tom was visibly hurt that Alex flirted with someone else. Both made frequent references to their coupledom, but only to the camera. Never to any of the other players. Never, that is, until Tom spills all. The ensuing row set the tone for the rest of the series.

How could you lie to us like that?

Players misspelling each other's names and holding up their slates upside down at the Round Table. Never had this trouble on The Weakest Link.

"Parting gift": Kieran knifes his fellow Traitor in the back.

Series two featured another pair of related contestants, Diane and her son Ross were able to conceal their relationship until both were eliminated. Diane's "murder" began with a poisoned chalice and ended with a mock funeral.

Series two contestant Miles hands Diane a goblet of sparkling rosé.


An adaptation of De Verraders, an IDTV format first seen on Dutch channel RTL4. Both IDTV and Studio Lambert Scotland are ultimately owned by All3Media.


The Traitors Official Card Game and Official Board Game.

There's a choose your own adventure book, which also contains some games to play with friends.


One of the contestants in the first series, Rayan, held the record for the highest amount of money brought through to the final on Moneybags.

Just a month after the first series ended, BBC3 aired the American version, which was shot at the same location (and with many of the same challenges) as ours. The channel subsequently showed both series of the Australian version, and the New Zealand edition joined it on the iPlayer.

Web links

BBC programme pages: The Traitors, The Traitors: Uncloaked

Wikipedia entry

See also

Weaver's Week reviews: series 1, series 2, and that American version.


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