Claudia Winkleman is back for a second series of The Traitors – and it’s just as epic (Picture: BBC)
Warning: This article contains huge spoilers for The Traitors series 2 episodes 1 to 3.
I was caught completely off guard when The Traitors suddenly had a hold on me, taking over every waking thought I had.
Nothing has taken me by surprise quite like it when gradually, largely through word of mouth, a new reality TV series gripped the nation like Big Brother in 2000.
And rightly so – packed with high-octane twists, a superb cast and Claudia Winkleman’s impressively camp passion for the game, The Traitors deserved every single accolade and bit of praise.
Like many other reality TV contests though, there was every chance the magic could be lost when future contestants were more switched on to the game.
Amanda went completely under the radar in series one because who would ever have imagined the self-proclaimed ‘Welsh Dragon’ and clear mother of the group could be secretly backstabbing them all?
Well, surely anyone who resembles Amanda’s same gentle kindness will be a prime target going forward.
Big Brother gradually became a victim of its own success. The charm of having every day people doing mundane things like cleaning and feeding chickens was soon lost to fame-hungry housemates determined to leave the house a celebrity. They knew what made a Big Brother winner and perhaps more importantly they knew what made a Big Brother villain who would be remembered for years to come.
The Traitors series 2 though has already avoided falling into the same trap with the perfect casting of 22 more meme-able characters, all bursting with natural eccentricity and love for the game.
Faithfuls Aaron, Meryl and Hannah took home the prize from season one (Picture: PA)
‘She is particularly magical to watch when it comes to The Traitors’ (Picture: BBC)
Claudia and her outlandish turtle necks are just unmissable television whatever she’s doing but she is particularly magical to watch when it comes to The Traitors.
Like Davina with Big Brother and Caroline Flack with Love Island, her impassioned enthusiasm is the beating heart of The Traitors and if anything she just seems more excited second time around knowing what fun is in store.
Anyone who has watched the international series of the Traitors will now know that a different combination of players will always bring a different game. Throw in mad reality stars like they did in the US or keep the cast as pedestrian as possible like in the UK, ultimately it’s the gut-punch turns of the game which will always make any series of The Traitors the most captivating show on television.
This time, however, there is a particular stroke of genius which genuinely made me scream. Even writing about it now my heart is beating out of my chest.
Will The Traitors make it to the end? (Picture: BBC)
Harry (pictured), Paul and Ash recruit a fourth Traitor (Picture: PA)
Last time, unbeknown to the cast, there was a secret couple among them. TV presenter Alex and magician Tom were actually partners, even though she was arguably leading on Matt. Viewers were in the on the deception but the traitors and the unsuspecting faithfuls were none-the-wiser until Tom erratically blurted it out at breakfast and subsequently ruined their game.
The Traitors’ second series takes that twist and turns it into something I’ve never seen before, breaking a golden rule of reality television: keeping the viewers in the dark of a huge secret.
Moments into episode one we know there’s a traitor among the group we’re not aware of after Paul, Harry and Ash recruit a fourth addition to their club.
That mystery was swiftly resolved in the opening moments of the second episode but it pales in comparison to what comes next.
If Alex and Tom being exposed as a couple was a TV moment of 2022, this rug pull is a TV moment of the decade.
Naturally the cast speculated if anyone is related or has a relationship, immediately thinking Paul (a traitor) is the son of Diane (a faithful). Both of them laugh off the rumours but, actually, they’re alarmingly close to the truth.
‘I can’t believe it was suggested that Paul is my son,’ Diane grins to the camera, after laughing the suggestion off. ‘He’s not my son, he’s about three times taller than me, he’s got red hair! Paul just couldn’t be my son.’
And then three words just slapped me around the face.
‘But Ross is…’
Diane has a pretty big secret (Picture: BBC)
Those three words slapped me around the face (Picture: PA)
Three episodes in, it felt like we really know this cast, who was playing the best game and who was already crumbling. The joy of being a voyeur in reality television is being privy to all the information, knowing the full scandal and all it’s context. Never before have I had the wind taken out of me quite like Diane confirming that everything we thought we know was a total lie.
To my horror, it appears as though Diane is only a few roundtables away from banishment, and that’s only if the traitors don’t get to her first.
But even without Diane, what else are we missing? Who else has got a burning secret we know nothing about? For the first time I can remember we can’t trust a thing even when we are, the viewer, the all seeing eye.
Are there more clues we should be looking out for? Is Claudia secretly Alan Cumming in disguise?
The Traitors’ debut was a masterpiece. A completely flawless series which ended with most thrilling episode of reality television ever.
Second time around it’s captured the same adrenaline just a few episodes in. I didn’t think it was possible but The Traitors might be about to get even better on its return.
The Traitors episodes 1 to 3 are available to watch on BBC iPlayer and will return Wednesday at 9pm on BBC One.
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