Lies, betrayal, and murder: Knives come out on The Traitors

The Traitors

Plus: The advertising opportunities available with the new format

It was one of the Traitors, in the hotel, with a dagger.

In 10’s new murder mystery The Traitors, lies and betrayal are the name of the game. 

Competing in challenges, 20 Faithfuls will try to unmask and eradicate the Traitors, while four Traitors try and ‘kill off’ all the Faithfuls. 24 paranoid people under one grand hotel roof? Let the games begin.

It’s all in a bid to take home the cash prize pool worth up to $250,000.

Executive producer, Ciaran Flannery, and host, Rodger Corser, told Mediaweek about every aspect of The Traitors ahead of the show’s premiere on Sunday, October 16 at 7.30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.

The Traitors Ciaran Flannery Rodger Corser

Ciaran Flannery and Rodger Corser

The original format was created by Dutch producer IDTV, and despite having to watch the original series with the subtitles on, Flannery says that the team were instantly hooked. 

Flannery: “When it came across to us via Endemol Shine, it had only really been made in the Netherlands. It was an absolutely massive success over there – the numbers that it had done were crazy. It really appealed to under 40s in particular, which is obviously of interest to us. Some of the share that that show got in its first series, it was approaching around about 50% share in under 40s

“We were sent the entire series and we just got addicted to the show, even though it was in Dutch. It was just a really fascinating new take on competition reality.” 

With the green light to go ahead with creating an Australian version, Flannery says that the next step was to scale everything up.

Flannery: “When you’re launching a new format, you take the best bits of the format from overseas, but you recognise that not everything is the same in that market as it is in this market. The Australian audience is used to a very, very high production value.

The big reality shows that are so successful over here have to be of a world class level in terms of look and feel, so we’ve taken The Traitors format and elevated it to a level that the Australian audience would expect.” 

Leading the contestants through their stay in the Traitors hotel is host, Rodger Corser, someone who Flannery calls “a genius casting.”

Flannery: “The show is ultimately a murder mystery made real, and we have lent very heavily on all the tropes of classic murder mysteries: Cluedo, Knives Out, Death on the Nile, there’s even a bit of Scooby-Doo and Squid Game in there. Everything from the soundtrack, to the set, to the way our contestants are dressed on day one, it all references those classic murder mysteries. It was important for us to make sure that the host could play along in that game, and be part of this world that we’ve created.”

the traitors

Corser and The Traitors cast

For Corser, who jokes that he’s used to “at least two or three takes” on everything as opposed to working with a room of reality show contestants, the role was something new.

Corser: “We created a character for the host role as opposed to just being myself. We had a lot of fun with the dialogue and the attitude, which we thought was perhaps a bit different to some other shows.”

Once the cameras started rolling, however, all bets were off for both the contestants and the production team. 

Flannery: “When the Traitors are picked, the first thing everyone does is take their masks off, and are faced with 23 people in front of them. All everyone does is try and analyse every tiny little body movement, every look, every nod. It’s amazing to see all the blind alleys that people run up. We know who the traitors are, and it’s quite hilarious to see all the things that people think they saw, but clearly didn’t.”

Corser: “As they started to form friendships which get stronger as we go on, in the back of their mind, some of them are adamant that no, their best buddy is definitely not a Traitor. Some, unfortunately, were found to be incorrect and do get let down

“When they walk in, we have the initial cocktail party before the Traitors are chosen, and everyone’s quite light-hearted. Everyone goes off and has their individual interviews and says,’ oh, I could be a Traitor, I could lie’. But when we actually dropped them into the game, things change.”

Setting 24 increasingly paranoid contestants free in an old hotel was never going to lead to a predictable outcome. For Flannery, the flexibility in the format to have anything – and everything – unfold as the game went on meant that the team behind the scenes were able to just hold on for the ride ahead.

Flannery: “Because it was the first season, we didn’t know how it’s going to play out or how strong or successful the Traitors will be – or indeed, how good the other contestants will be picking the Traitors. The beauty of the format is that it allows for all eventualities, and even if the Traitors fall one by one, the remaining Traitors have the ability to recruit, or at least invite, new people to join their team. In a way it doesn’t matter, because there’s a great story either way.

“But the way it really did play out in the series – I couldn’t have predicted it, to be honest with you. There were so many twists and turns over the course of the time they stayed there. I’m just looking forward to everyone else being able to see it.”

As contestants are killed off and Traitors are uncovered, the reactions of the people involved are as raw as they come. As Corser says, “the gold is in the first take.”

Corser: “I do monologues that would have gags in there, and because the contestants aren’t actors the first time is always the best – once they’ve heard the gag, they don’t react! It feels like you’re a stand up comedian that’s just dying, so I really wanted to get that first take as close as possible.”

Advertising with The Traitors

Off the back of the success of 10’s Hunted, effect partnership director, Tamar Hovagimian told Mediaweek that “audiences are really craving something new and different from the reality genre.”

Tamar Hovagimian

Tamar Hovagimian

When asked what advertising opportunities The Traitors present for brands, Hovagimian says that it will reflect what’s currently available for other 10 tentpole programming. 

“We offer true integration – it’s always got to be true and really authentic. That opportunity exists for brands, but also we always want to support that and really deliver the brand messages through all of the commercial assets that help drive whatever it is that the brand is wanting to achieve. 

“Whether it’s billboards, program IDs, or TVCs, they all play a really important role in bringing the brand messages to life. Then, of course, across 10 Play we’re able to replicate that experience and use our premium suite of assets such as Premium Pause and The Countdown. All these opportunities are really beneficial for brands.

It’s a new format, but there’s a real opportunity to really cut through with some of these really cool premium assets.”

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