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Executive Producer of The Traitors talks to The News Agents

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Executive Producer of The Traitors talks to The News Agents

Executive Producer of The Traitors and CEO of Studio Lambert, Stephen Lambert has hinted at the possibility of a UK celebrity version of The Traitors, telling The News Agents podcast, ‘I think it would be pretty entertaining… We talk to the BBC about the future of all our shows and that’s obviously a possibility.’

Speaking to podcast host Lewis Goodall ahead of tonight’s final, Stephen also praised the success of The Traitors and Mr Bates vs The Post Office as a ‘huge triumph for linear TV’ and revealed how they cast contestants for the show.    

Asked whether the success of The Traitors demonstrates the death of linear television has been overwritten, Stephen said:

‘Yes, I think it has. We’ve also had the extraordinary drama series this year, that’s been more influential than any drama series I can remember, Mr Bates vs The Post Office. Again, a huge triumph for linear TV. It kind of depends on what you mean by linear TV. I mean, half the audience of The Traitors and more than half the audience of Mr Bates is not linear in the sense that they’re not watching it as it’s being broadcast.

People are watching it on BBC iPlayer or in that case ITV X. So, if what we mean by linear TV is watching it as the broadcaster initially broadcast it, it still attracts a big audience. But what makes it a real talk about piece of television is the fact that people can catch up. I think the fact that if you’ve got to show like The Traitors where it’s stripped over three nights on BBC One, it means that you’ve got four days in which to catch up. So that’s I think, one of the reasons why we’re able to grow the audience because normally with the show, if you missed the beginning, you think, I don’t know what’s going on, I’m not going to watch. In this case people have got time to catch up and that’s why they’re then joining and then they’re maybe wanting to watch the actual live transmission of the show.

I certainly think that today there will be a lot of live viewers for the final.’

Asked why the cast of the US version are celebrities compared to the civilian cast in the UK, Stephen replied:

‘The original Dutch version was with Dutch celebrities. 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.’ 

Asked whether there will be a celebrity version of The Traitors in the UK and if there are any plans to create one, Stephen told Lewis:

‘I think it would be pretty entertaining… We talk to the BBC about the future of all our shows and that’s obviously a possibility.’

 Commenting on how little the production team intervenes in the making of The Traitors, Stephen said:

‘It’s not a drama in the sense there’s no script, and we don’t know what people are going to say, we don’t know how the story is going to develop. The best unscripted shows or reality shows are ones where the producers don’t intervene all the time and we certainly don’t intervene in this.

Partly because we don’t think that’s the way to get the best television. But more importantly, it is a real competition for serious money. And so, the rules on us not intervening are very strict. So, in that sense, it’s not a drama, because we don’t know what’s going to happen. But it is a drama in the sense that the format design ensures a great deal of drama.’

Revealing how the production team selects the contestants for The Traitors, Stephen told Lewis:

‘People are cast because we’re making a judgement all the time about the chemistry between the people, whether or not these are people that have interesting backstories, and these facts about their lives will come out in the course of the show, and crucially, whether they have the confidence to take part, particularly whether they have 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. Just at that last moment, we lock in as to who the traitors will be.’

 Expanding on how they select which contestants to be chosen to be traitors, Stephen said: 

‘We chose them because we think they will be able to do it. It’s quite a hard thing to be a traitor. And we like to hear what they’ve got to say in that final interview with Claudia, whether they want to be a traitor, it’s quite hard to make an initial traitor at the beginning of the series, a traitor if they don’t want to be a traitor… Some of them say they want to be a traitor, but they don’t say it with much conviction, so we’re unlikely to pick them. Even then more people want to be traitors than are actually chosen.’

Listen to the full interview on The News Agents podcast this evening on Global Player. 

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