*SPOILERS FOR SERIES 1 OF THE TRAITORS BELOW*
With Series 1 of The Traitors releasing last year on BBC, Meryl Williams was a contestant, with Claudia Winkleman as the host, and the show has proved hugely popular amongst viewers and won the 2023 BAFTA for Best Reality & Constructed Factual Award. During her time on the show, Meryl had to compete with her fellow contestants on missions such as the barrel challenge and fairground wheel, and their goal was to add money to the prize pot by winning the challenges. The aim of the show is for the ‘faithfuls’ to discover who the ‘traitors’ are, and Meryl, alongside Hannah and Aaron, were announced as the Series 1 winners, and she has since been a guest on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 2. Meryl has her own YouTube channel, and filmed an episode of Channel 4’s documentary series My Body My Rules with her own episode – Living My Best Life As A Woman With Dwarfism. Speaking to Meryl recently, she told us about her experience on Series 1 of BBC’s The Traitors, competing on the missions and working alongside her fellow contestants and host Claudia Winkleman.
You were a contestant on Series 1 of The Traitors last year, how would you describe your experience on the show?
It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will be forever grateful for. I got to achieve things, meet people and see places I never thought I would be able to see. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I overcame physical and mental challenges that I didn’t think were possible and made friendships that will last a lifetime. Overall an amazing and positive experience that I was lucky enough to have.
What was it like meeting the rest of the contestants for the first time?
It was nerve-racking at first as it was a large amount of people to meet at once. I felt quite overwhelmed and intimidated but after speaking to them all I was at ease and so grateful to have met everyone. Everyone was so amazing, unique and different and I remember being so intrigued to get to know each individual contestant. I couldn’t have picked a better cast to film the show with – to me, the cast made the show. All different people from all walks of life and I have made friends for life.
How was it on set of The Traitors and working alongside Claudia Winkleman?
Surreal. I would always watch Claudia on TV and then suddenly I was spending every day with her. It was a dream come true. She is such an amazing and down to earth person with a great personality who I have the pleasure of now calling my friend. I learned a lot from her as I am keen to get into presenting/TV industry and she gave me lots of friendly advice and guidance about following my dreams.
Did you have a favourite and a most challenging mission to film?
My favourite mission would be the fairground wheel as, due to my genetic condition, I am too small to go on rides so have never been to a theme park before. The mission gave me the luxury of having a customised amusement ride that I could go on like everyone else and it made me feel included and equal to my fellow contestants. In terms of the most challenging mission, I would say the barrel challenge as it physically pushed me to my limits. I honestly don’t know how I completed this as it included a lot of physical pressure on my body but thanks to the encouragement of my fellow contestants, I was able to preserve and help complete the mission. We all gave each other the help and strength required to win the missions and add money to the prize pot.
How did you feel filming the final scenes and finding out you’d won alongside Hannah and Aaron?
It was a real pinch me moment. I was in shock and so unbelievably grateful that I got this far and experienced all I had. I never thought in a million years I would make it to the Final, never mind win the show with two amazing individuals. It was all a bit of a blur and took me a while to process what happened. I think the final scenes are incredible and the production team really pulled it out the bag to produce some amazing television.
What was it like seeing the huge success of the release of The Traitors and how was it having it win at the 2023 BAFTA Awards?
Amazing and so well deserved. I’m so glad it got the recognition as the cast and crew were incredible to work with and deserve all the success the show had. I loved the response that the show had from the public, as it gave them the experience to feel the emotions we did taking part. I’m just so glad the public enjoyed watching the show as much as we did making it.
How was it being a guest on This Morning, Good Morning Britain and BBC Radio 2?
To have the chance to be a guest on shows that I watched as a child was a dream. It was great to meet all the team at ITV and BBC, and seeing what happens behind the camera of such big shows was surreal. It was such a positive experience and something I’ll remember forever.
How do you feel your life has changed since being a contestant on The Traitors?
My life has changed completely. The show gave me the freedom to follow my dreams in the industry and quit my call centre job. This has brought so much flexibility, opportunity and enormous happiness opening so many doors for me. I have met some incredible individuals I would have never met and really look forward to the future. The show has changed my life for the better.
Can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve been involved with and events you’ve attended in the past few months?
I have been able to be involved in lots of different projects and causes, some very close to my heart, for example, PETA. It has definitely opened my eyes to a different world I’ve never experienced before. The opening of the 2:22 West End show with my fellow Traitors cast was a surreal and proud moment of mine as I got to see an overwhelming amount of support for The Traitors and experience it all with them by my side. I have signed with an agency who have provided the opportunity for me to go to events that I have only ever dreamed of going to. They are definitely opening up doors to a whole new world to me that I’m extremely grateful for.
You also have a YouTube channel, how is it posting videos to the platform and what do you enjoy most about interacting with your followers on social media?
I love hearing and interacting with everyone who watches my content as it allows me to expose myself to people from all different walks of life. I feel so grateful to have this platform and have the luxury to interact with amazing people.
What was it like filming your own documentary for Channel 4?
Amazing. I felt so honoured to be able to educate and be part of a documentary that teaches people about my condition, showing them an insight into my life and world, and showing people that my condition is not a barrier to success. The documentary was able to highlight the highs and lows of my condition, giving the audience an insight of what it’s like to live with my dwarfism.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch?
My absolute favourite TV show is The Office and I think I’ve watched every episode over 100 times. Obviously I’d recommend The Traitors too, I think that’s pretty good!
How do you like to spend your free time?
My dog is my best friend and I spend a lot of my time with her. I enjoy going on walks, socialising with my friends and shopping.
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
I’m hoping it’s a good year for my mum, gran and myself. I have a lot of exciting things in the pipeline to look forward to and I’m hoping it’s going to be a good year. Health, happiness and success is all I can wish for.
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