The Traitors host Claudia Winkleman has shared that the contestants are "more brutal" this time ahead of the launch of the second series of the reality show.

The BBC programme involves a group of 22 people housed in a castle for three weeks, with a few of them privately being told they are 'traitors'.                    

In the show, the 'traitors' are able to 'murder' one person each night and one person is also 'banished' each night as the other contestants attempt to route out the 'traitors'.

Those left standing at the end of the series split the prize money, but if a traitor makes it to the final undetected, they take home the money instead, BBC News reports.

Ahead of the start of the second series Winkleman told the BBC: "The players are more ruthless, they are less innocent, and they have no qualms about accusing people.

"In the first season, Maddy [Smedley, a faithful] would say 'I think it's him'... and everyone went 'shhh, you're wrong'. And I was just like, 'listen to her!' But here [in series two], you see the first round table, it explodes. They want to play the game and they are, impatient is not the right word, but they're more brutal."

As the contestants are more aware of what they are getting involved with than the contestants from the first series, they are also more likely to know better strategies to either avoid detection as a 'traitor' or how to root them out as a 'faithful'.

The Traitors sees huge popularity on the BBC

The first series of The Traitors, which aired in December 2022, peaked with a consolidated audience of 4.5 million and later won a Bafta TV Award for best reality series.

When casting began for the first series 3,000 people applied, which had risen to a staggering 130,000 when casting started for the second series.

The thrilling nature of the programme has been attractive to viewers, with Winkleman herself getting involved with the twists and turns.

She said: "It's not a matter of goodies and baddies. Sometimes I really want the traitors to do it, sometimes I really want the faithful to catch one of them, and they both work in equal measure, because I respect gameplay above everything."

Winkleman admits she wrestled with whether the show should return at all, fearful that lightning wouldn't strike twice.

She added: "The success of the first series winded us, it floored us. I said to [production company] Studio Lambert and the BBC, 'Let's just leave it'. Like, this magical thing happened, enough."

Following that she joked that the head of the BBC had leaned forward to take her temperature in response.

The Traitors starts on BBC One on Wednesday, January 3 at 9pm