CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Claudia’s killer show murdered by a bunch of big-headed non-beings
The traitors to the United States
Robson Green’s weekend getaways
Lucky strike or surefire formula? Claudia Winkleman’s reality format The Traitors, the mind game in a Scottish castle, was the resounding surprise hit of the past year.
The question is whether its sadistic, addictive appeal to millions of viewers was a fluke, the unintended result of his perfect cast of characters combined with Claudia’s previously unsuspected cruelty.
The only way to answer that is to try again. The Traitors US (BBC3) does exactly that, in the same setting, with the same missions, even with the same blacked-out limos.
But there is one key difference that betrays a lack of confidence in the format from its American producers. Instead of pairing a group of strangers with big personalities, half the players in this version are “celebrities” from other reality shows.
Instead of pairing a group of strangers with big personalities, half the players in this version are “celebrities” from other reality shows
They were all so in love with themselves that the flirtations and crushes that made Claudia’s clan of traitors and believers so lovable didn’t stand a chance
For British viewers at least, these are the most obscure celebs imaginable. Their fame lies on the scale of subatomic particles.
Not only has no one here heard of Arie Luyendyk Jr., Kate Chastain or Reza Farahan, their shows are meaningless to us. The Bachelor, Below Deck, Shahs Of Sunset. . . these titles sound like fakes generated by a sarcastic computer program.
And while you may know that Big Brother and The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills are popular in the States, please don’t joke with me that you have no idea who Cody Calafiore or Brandi Glanville is.
Her presence kills this remake, as half of the first episode was devoted to deluded zeros rejoicing at how overwhelmed the other players would be to find such a star in their midst. “I’m something of an icon,” boasted Rachel Reilly, who won the US edition of Big Brother in 2011. “This is my chance to use their enthusiasm for me to my advantage.”
“I love judging people,” Kate proclaimed. “But I’m being totally honest,” she said, before adding that she was a natural born detective because Sherlock Holmes was related to her great-grandfather.
They were all so in love with themselves that the flirtations and crushes that made Claudia’s clan of traitors and believers so lovable didn’t stand a chance.
All 15 episodes of Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes (BBC2) are available on iPlayer as the actor roams the North East with friends
Actor Alan Cumming is the new host, but the rules remain essentially the same. Three of the 20 players are secretly dubbed “killers” and eliminate a rival from the game each night.
The others have to guess who the killers are and can expel those they most suspect. The traitors lie to protect themselves. . . and the innocents go at each other.
Air Defense of the Night:
Air defense of the night: Gaynor and Greg (Alexandra Mardell and James Nelson-Joyce) were plagued by a seagull on The Family Pile (ITV) and plotted drastic action – either with a dog or a BB gun. This is stupid and illegal.
The only protection against swooping gulls is a sturdy umbrella.
The Americans introduced a good twist. Players now sleep in the castle itself, and Alan roams the battlements in the moonlight in bright blue tartan, like Banquo’s ghost on a modeling assignment in Macbeth.
That first show is being repeated on BBC1 tonight – and the whole series is on iPlayer. The same goes for all 15 episodes of Robson Green’s Weekend Escapes (BBC2), in which the actor roams the Northeast with friends.
This time he visited the coast with actor Mark Benton and did little more than eat ice cream on the beach with the donkeys in Saltburn, North Yorkshire and suck on a sour treat at the sweet shop in Staithes.
The duo had an art lesson from local gallery owner and retired teacher Ian Burke. He told them he had been a master of drawing at Eton College – and they shut up.
That was a missed opportunity. Mr Burke was the college’s longest-serving staff member, cleared in 2006 to help Prince Harry with his written exams. Robson and Mark should have asked him what he thought of the reluctant royal family’s current ghostwriter.