Meryl, Hannah and Aaron have been crowned the winners of new reality show The Traitors in a dramatic final which nearly saw traitor Wilfred steal the whole jackpot.
The BBC programme, which began airing last month, saw 22 strangers play “the ultimate game of detection, backstabbing and trust” at a Scottish Highlands castle in the hope of winning big.
Over the course of the series, four players were made secret traitors and were tasked with “murdering” the other faithful contestants, while the latter had to root out the traitors and “banish” them.
After weeks of the treacherous game, Thursday’s episode saw five finalists reduced to the last three winners who will split the £100,000 prize equally between them.
However, the win did not come easily as they first had to complete a demanding challenge which saw comedian Hannah, 32, and property agent Aaron, 24, tasked with jumping out of a helicopter into a lake where they had to swim to buoys to reveal numbers.
The numbers helped call centre agent Meryl, 25, solutions consultant Kieran, 42, and senior fundraiser Wilfred, 28, crack the code of a lock which released a map and keys to a jet-ski which they used to travel to a number of treasure troves which contained different amounts of cash.
They successfully uncovered £20,000 bringing the final total of the jackpot to £100,000.
Tensions were later raised at the roundtable as they all delivered their case on who they thought were faithfuls and who might actually be a secret traitor, with all of the contestants voting to axe Kieran while he voted for Wilfred.
Before Kieran confirmed he was indeed a traitor, he stirred up more drama to get back at Wilfred for getting the others to gang up on him by saying his vote for the senior fundraiser was a “parting gift”, which caused the other contestants’ to start questioning if he too was a traitor.
Wilfred delivered one final pleading speech to try to deceive his fellow competitors that he was a faithful in a bid to steal the whole jackpot, giving an ultimatum that he would never speak to any of them again if they were to banish him at the 11th hour.
When it was time for the last four to decide if they were all faithfuls and wished to end the game or to banish one more player, Meryl and Wilfred opted to finish while Aaron and Hannah said they were too suspicious of Wilfred.
The last vote saw Wilfred banished from the game which caused him to break down with relief that he could finally stop lying to everyone and reveal he was indeed a traitor while the remaining three were all faithfuls.
Afterwards, he said: “I literally just lost over a hundred grand to these three amazing people and I’m really, really happy that they are happy. The pressure is gone, the money is gone. It doesn’t matter, I’m happy. I’ve enjoyed my time.”
Following the win, Aaron revealed he has used his prize money to put down a deposit on a house for his mother and he plans to travel in the new year which he hopes will help launch a YouTube career through documenting the trip.
He said he does not think the show has affected his ability to trust others too much as he does not want the experience to make him doubt everyone but he admitted he does “have a bit more of a guard up now”.
Meanwhile, Hannah, who has quit her day job and is using the cash to pursue her comedy career, said it had made her more cautious of others, joking: “I’m never going to be able to have a relationship again.”
She added: “A lot of people have said that it was really traumatic. I think that we just enjoyed each other so much towards the end that no matter what the outcome was, we all kind of wanted to be there together.”
Meryl revealed she has quit her call centre job as well and is hoping to become a TV presenter and plans to get tips from the show’s host Claudia Winkleman.
She also feels the competition has helped with her independence and confidence and given her a platform to educate people about her dwarfism.
“I think a lot of the times with my condition a lot of people perceive and doubt me so the whole reason why I wanted to go on the show and complete all the tasks, especially the physical ones, was to show people watching back at home that I can do the exact same as everyone else”, she said.
They all confirmed they had no hard feelings against Wilfred after he almost stole the whole prize fund for himself, with Hannah saying: “The fact that Will has taken the outcome so graciously means that he was a great guy.”