The Traitors is Not Cruel, Just Brutal Says BBC Exec

“The Traitors,” the reality game show that sees contestants holed up in a castle working to eliminate one another in order to claim a grand prize, became one of last winter’s break-out hits when it dropped on BBC One.

But it nearly didn’t get commissioned. Syeda Irtizaali, BBC editor for unscripted, revealed when someone first suggested she take a look at the Dutch version (titled “De Verraders” and repped by All3Media International) she wasn’t convinced. “I think it’s a pretty difficult show to sell on paper,” Irtizaali said during a panel discussion about the format at MipTV on Tuesday morning. She said it was a contact at NBC (with whom the BBC has a creative partnership) that told her about it, saying. “’There’s people being murdered, they’re wearing hoodies. Watch it, I think you’ll like it.’”

“I was like, ‘No,’” Irtizaali laughed. “So for a while, I was like, ‘This is not for us.’ And then of course, as soon as I saw it, the Dutch version, we knew this is the show that we wanted to get. We were looking for a show for BBC One, a big reality show. We knew that this was the one. And I think the mise en scene, the hoodies, the flames, everything was part of the joy of that. And I think for us, we just had to really lean into the campery of that, the campness. We were very tongue in cheek about it […] we just went for it. And it’s been amazing for the BBC.”

The BBC’s version did tweak the original Dutch format a bit, namely by eschewing celebrities for civilians. “I knew for us it would have to be real people,” she said. “And that was because we wanted to make it feel like it was a broad range of viewers that will be able to watch it and we knew it wouldn’t really work with celebrities for us.”

Another change was culling two contestants in the first 10 minutes of episode one. “I think [that] was the moment that the public sat up and took notice and just went, ‘Oh, this isn’t what we expected to see on the BBC.’ And from then on in it we just played with it. Because I think because everything’s out there, the format, the game plays, the brutality, it’s all on the screen, nothing else is going on behind the scenes. So it’s all up front. So it’s not cruel. It’s just a brutal game.”

Such has been the popularity of the show in the U.K., Irtizaali revealed 17,000 people had applied to take part in the second season.

Also speaking on the panel was Celine Cauderlier, head of creation and development at Studio 89/M6, who oversaw a French version of the series. The key to its success, she said, is that “it’s not a TV show you’re producing, it’s a game you’re filming, and [that] works so well.” With the French version featuring celebrities, it also brings “authenticity” to the celebrity gameshow genre. “We see celebrities cry, we see celebrities like we’ve never seen them before,” she said. “Then of course, the whole the castle device – that was so different visually, from what you’re used to seeing on TV.”

The U.S. version of the show, which is broadcast on Peacock, has already been renewed for a second season.

Read More About:

Source: Read Full Article