Passions: Televised parlour game The Traitors is a reality show delight

Will a Traitor scoop the prize pot, or will the Faithfuls prevail?

The BBC series Traitors has had me gripped for the past four weeks, with its finale scheduled for tomorrow night.

Its format is simple, there are 22 contestants, a handful of which are designated, secretly, as traitors. Their aim is to evade detection, while strategically murdering non-traitors, known as the Faithful.

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In addition, a player is banished each evening after a vote of treachery from the majority.

It is set in Ardross Castle, North of Inverness and beautifully shot, with sweeping vistas of lochs and glens, juxtaposed with forbidding turrets and dark Victorian interiors.

The game is a glorified Murder in the Dark, with added outdoor tasks to earn the cash prize pot.

Only the Faithful who survive can win a share. But if any traitor remains undetected to the end, they get the lot.

The joy is watching ordinary members of the public investigate while defending rear guard personal attacks.

One is a clairvoyant who you’d think would have an advantage. She was offed early on, which she didn’t see coming.

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At the nightly round table discussions, the innocent are accused, ganged up on and evicted, with the faithful seemingly opting for a popularity contest, rather than a united strategy.

Traitors will stick the knife into their own – if defending them would attract suspicion, or they just aren’t up to the deviousness required. One got the boot after stuttering when asked if she were a traitor over breakfast. But any arrogance amongst the traitors leads to their downfall too.

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One, showing emotional intelligence beyond his tender years, has an intricate strategy of observe who is in line for the chop, then join the bandwagon.Weeping when yet another innocent is evicted despite his protestations keeps him safe.

Every smile, breath, grimace and eyebrow twitch is dissected as groups gather to winkle out the baddies.

The presenter, Claudia Winkleman (in fabulous chunky knits) urges and consoles, but throws in plenty of macabre twists. The suspense is retained as episodes are drip fed so you have to wait for the next instalment. Social media has been abuzz with theories and opinions.

Two things become apparent. One is the glee with which otherwise nice folk can relish a role as a murderous double-crosser.

And the other, worryingly, is the astounding lack of insight most people have when others are lying. Not great for the jury system, but for light entertainment, their smug, forthright – and wholly incorrect – conclusions are a wonder to behold.

​Kirsty McLuckie is Property Editor of The Scotsman

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