Celebrity Traitors ‘a possibility but ordinary people take game more seriously’

The Traitors executive producer has said that a celebrity version of the hit BBC One show is a “possibility” but also said that there is more at stake when ordinary people play the game.

Stephen Lambert’s production company brought the Dutch series De Verraders, where contestants have to work out who the traitors are to prevent them stealing the prize money at the end of the game, to the UK and America.

The UK version’s traitors and faithful are selected from among the public who apply while the American show saw a mix of ordinary people and celebrities in its first season before becoming just famous faces in the second series.

Asked whether there will be a celebrity version of The Traitors in the UK, Lambert told Global’s The News Agents podcasts: “I think it would be pretty entertaining.

Bafta Television Awards 2023
Stephen Lambert, fifth from left, has said it is possible the Bafta-winning show could sprout a celebrity version (Yui Mok/PA)

“We talk to the BBC about the future of all our shows and that’s obviously a possibility.”

He explained that the original Dutch show, which follows a similar format to the party game Werewolf, also known as Mafia, had also used celebrities.

Mr Lambert, the studio chief executive, said: “So, it was really a decision that we made with the BBC to make the first British version without celebrities.

“Certainly, in America, it’s such a crowded marketplace and we’re on a streaming platform called Peacock, which is owned by NBC.

“They believed that celebrities or people that had achieved fame as a result of being in big, unscripted reality shows in America would help with press, it would help draw attention and it would get an audience to come and it seems to be working.

“In Britain, the decision was, maybe we’ll think about celebrities at some stage.

“But the best shows, like The Apprentice, don’t have celebrities in them. If you don’t have celebrities, if you have real people, civilians, the prize pot matters.

“You know, if you’re a celebrity – £100,000 yes, obviously, it’s lovely – but it’s not as significant, as if you’re an ordinary person. They take the game more seriously and that we think is very important.”

The American show is set in the same castle, Ardross in the Scottish Highlands, but hosted by a different presenter, Scottish actor Alan Cumming. It has been called “more brutal” and “pure evil” by reviewers.

In the second series, Love Island winner Ekin-Su Culculoglu and former speaker of the commons, John Bercow, feature with US reality stars such as RuPaul’s Drag Race star Peppermint among the cast.

On Friday night, the Traitors UK, hosted by Claudia Winkleman, has its second season final on BBC One where viewers will discover if the traitors or the faithful win the money this time around.

Mr Lambert said the producers are “very strict” to not manage the contestants on The Traitors.

He also said they cast people in the UK who think have chemistry with other contestants, interesting backstories, and the “confidence to be a traitor”.

“The decision as to who the traitors are, is made at the very last moment after Claudia does an interview with each of them before they go into the meeting, where the traitors are chosen,” Mr Lambert added.

“Just at that last moment, we lock in as to who the traitors will be.”

The Traitors Australia, US and UK are available on BBC iPlayer.