Claudia Winkleman initially turned down The Traitors role to spend more time with her children

Claudia Winkleman may have won a Bafta for her role as the host of The Traitors, but the presenter has admitted that she initially declined to present the reality show in order to prioritise her family life.

The Strictly Come Dancing host was at the helm of the first series of the award-winning BBC competition, which sees 22 contestants attempting to deceive each other to be in the chance of winning up to £120,000.

As the show returns for its second series in January, Winkleman has spoken candidly in a new interview about the reason she originally said no to The Traitors.

“I wasn’t keen on leaving home for three weeks, so initially I said, ‘I don’t think so, but thank you,’” she said.

“They then sent me the original Dutch version. I watched the first four episodes in one sitting, told the kids to make their own tea and then begged the BBC to let me be part of it.”

The Traitors is based on the Dutch series De Verraders, and has spawned multiple international versions since it first aired in the Netherlands in 2021.

The comments come weeks after Winkleman announced that she was standing down from her BBC Radio 2 Saturday show to spend more time with her kids. Winkleman shares three children with film producer husband Kris Thykier.

Winkleman won a Bafta for her role hosting ‘The Traitors' (BBC/Studio Lambert/Mark Mainz)
Winkleman won a Bafta for her role hosting ‘The Traitors' (BBC/Studio Lambert/Mark Mainz)

Sharing the news of her departure live on air, Winkleman said: “Here’s the thing, and it is such a boring cliché, so apologise: time is going too fast.

“My daughter is getting ready to leave home, and she was three about five minutes ago. I still have a little one who wants to be with me – don’t know how long that’ll last – and I just need to be at home with them more.”

In an additional statement, she added: “The truth is my children are growing up inordinately fast so I have decided to follow them around at home before they leave for good.” Winkleman will be replaced on Radio 2 by comedian Romesh Ranganathan.

On her return to the Scottish castle where The Traitors is filmed, Winkleman admitted that she’d initially found the show hard to get into compared to her “cheerleader” role on Strictly.

“I’m used to being a cheerleader and a helper, so it felt very odd being so cold,” she said. “By the end I couldn’t help but show how much I cared about them, but at the beginning, yes, it was deeply weird.

“The producers had to really persuade me to send two people home as soon as they arrived. I couldn’t really cope with it, but they said, ‘This sets the tone, don’t be wet.’ So off they went.”

The Traitors returns Wednesday 3 January at 9pm on BBC One, with episode two and three immediately available on iPlayer and airing on the BBC the following nights.