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How I went on ‘The Traitors’ and became TV’s first great villain of 2024

As fans of The Traitors gear up for the show's finale, season 2's most formidable villain tells Rolling Stone UK all about his journey.

By Paul Gorton

Paul Gorton in 'The Traitors' (Picture: BBC)

In the last few weeks, I’ve come to the realisation that the normal me was left somewhere in a castle in Scotland last year. Ever since the second season of The Traitors aired on BBC, my world has been turned completely upside down. When I go to the supermarket it feels like I’m in some sort of dystopian film where everyone turns and starts staring at me and I have to wonder if they know me from the show.

I even got snapped by the paps the other day too! I was walking my dog wearing the worst outfit I’ve ever seen in my life, so now I don’t leave the house without doing my hair or having some nice clothes on.

But you know what? I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve loved the memes made of my iconic final bow after Harry turned on me at the Round Table , I’ve loved the heated reactions on social media and I’ve loved becoming the UK’s unofficial panto villain of the year. I wouldn’t change a thing.

In fact, the irony of it all is that I hadn’t even heard of The Traitors before I applied for it. You’ve got the comedians David Earl and Joe Wilkinson to thank for that. I appeared on their Chatabix Podcast last year after they put out a call for people who had been on TV game shows in the past. I popped up to tell them about my now much-discussed appearance on Deal or Or No Deal when I won a paltry 10P. They were convinced that I’d be a great contestant on the show and the rest, as they say, is history.

I do think my whole life has led to becoming a Traitor. There’s always been a naughty streak within me, but in normal society you can’t do the things that I did in the castle. So when I was put into a show where you’re actively encouraged to manipulate people to win money I just thought right, I’m really gonna cause some trouble in here.

I was so convinced I was going to become a Traitor before I went on the show too. I bought a copy of Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho in WH Smiths just before I got on the train and thought that Patrick Bateman would be a great character to base my Traitor on. He’s obviously a psycho and I’m definitely not, but he’s got a lot of charisma. I decided I’d try and bring all of that to the table. I feel like I really hit that brief and it appears like the public did too.

I’ve seen all the reactions on social media, people calling me a sociopath, and it’s really made me laugh. In fact, the thing that would probably annoy me more is if people watched me and didn’t have anything to say. I’d have felt like I failed then. Also, if they say it online and wouldn’t say it to me in real life, then they’re automatically discredited.

But the other members of the show have been really kind too. Mollie, who comes across as being quite quiet on the show, messaged me the other day saying she’d seen the online reactions and asked if I was OK, so that was really sweet.

It isn’t just Mollie I’ve spoken to either. I’ve been speaking to Diane recently about her now iconic status and she deserves every eyeball she’s getting because she’s one of the loveliest women I’ve ever met in my life and a complete star too. We’ve all got a WhatsApp group that was set up by my amazing fellow Traitor Ash and I’m going to put it out there that we should all get tattoos. The obvious option would be the Traitors logo, but maybe we could get Claudia’s fringe etched on our foreheads? I think that would be magnificent because that group of people will stay with me forever just like that tattoo would.

Of course, Harry is my best mate from the show and there’s no bad blood about the way he took me out of the game. In fact, that moment when he took the shield was elite and I hope he goes on to win it. If I had been able to survive that Round Table banishment, I’m convinced that I would have been able to get Harry back on side and we would have gone on to win it too . But I knew my time was up and I even experienced this weird dopamine hit because I knew I was about to get found out. I genuinely felt like a criminal that knows he’s about to get caught and feels relief from it.

Then came my iconic exit. I’m rubbing Charlotte’s shoulder, squeezing Ross’ shoulder, and making sure everybody in that room thought I was a Faithful before I got up there, did my speech and did my bow. That felt incredible.

It was completely improvised, and I do see myself as a bit of a secret thespian, so maybe that’s the next step after all of this. After all, I’ve been called a TV panto villain, so maybe I can do the real thing if any theatres are looking for a Captain Hook next Christmas? Rest assured, I’ll be the best, most devious Captain Hook you’ve ever seen.

Until then though, it’s back to family life with my partner, young son, and our dog.

Oh, and if you’re considering applying for next year’s series: just do it. You’ve got nothing to lose and I’d compare it to entering the lottery. In this case though, your prize is a trip to a Scottish castle where Claudia Winkleman may just be about to pinch your shoulder. You won’t regret it.

As told to Nick Reilly