Oh, Mollie.” This was the top trending phrase on Twitter/X in the UK last Friday night, as 6.9 million of us tuned in to watch the finale of The Traitors, and saw contestant Mollie Pearce being betrayed by her best friend on the BBC smash-hit show. For four weeks, we had watched Harry Clark conceal his role as a Traitor with alarming ease, ruthlessly picking off his victims – Traitors and Faithfuls alike – one by one.
Mollie (along with most of the contestants) never doubted him until the very end, when it seemed like she might have cottoned on to his Traitorish ways. But in an agonising, last-minute U-turn, she stuck by her bestie, refusing to banish him from the Scottish castle. Cue Harry winning the whole £95,000 jackpot. And Mollie bursting into tears. More than a week later, the country has still not moved on. But Mollie has.
“Honestly, I’m over it,” the 22-year-old says with a cheerful shrug. “I think people forget we filmed it way back in September.” So she hasn’t come away with major trust issues? She laughs. “We signed up to a game and we played that game, and I just happened to trust the wrong person. Watching it back, I think Harry played a blinder. So I’m not going to beat myself up about it.”
When I speak to Mollie, she is in the thick of it. She’s been in TV and radio studios all over London this week to talk about the show. She’s having meetings with stoma companies (Mollie has a stoma, an opening in the abdomen, due to a health condition called ulcerative colitis). And while fans across the UK have set up Traitors WhatsApp groups dedicated to chatting about the series, Mollie’s actual Traitors WhatsApp group has been pinging constantly, with the stars sharing their experiences in the limelight.
Because Mollie has been so busy, and staying in London away from her home near Bristol, she hasn’t yet had a proper taste of fans stopping her in the street. “I haven’t been going out that much, because when I get back to my hotel room, I’m just like, ‘I wanna go to sleep!’” she says. It was her birthday on Sunday, and she celebrated that night in the hotel restaurant with her boyfriend, Max Blackwell, and fellow Traitors contestant Jasmine Boatswain.
Mollie has found solace in hanging out with the other Traitors stars, after being subjected to intense social media abuse since the show started airing. The trolling has been so severe that articles have started popping up in her defence. One headline this week urged people to leave her alone. “I actually deleted Twitter about halfway through the show because it’s a horrible place,” says Mollie. “I will not be going on there. I just thought, ‘Well, no one has anything nice to say, so I’ll just leave.’ It is crazy. It’s fine for people to have an opinion but just use your words kindly, you know?” She sighs. “It’s a shame because no one can tell me they didn’t enjoy that final. It was some of the best TV in a long, long time. Yet people still have something to say.”
She is still on other sites, such as Instagram, but has found the Elon Musk-run platform especially “brutal”. There’s also been a lot of love, though, and Mollie commends the BBC’s aftercare, saying that she still has access to the show’s psychiatrist, who was the first person she spoke to when the Harry bomb dropped.
Mollie and Harry, the series’ youngest contestants, formed a close friendship very quickly. Their bond allowed Harry to get away with murder. But it also fuelled speculation that they were more than friends, and that Mollie was blinded by a crush. This has been painful, especially because both Mollie and Harry have partners.
“People have this fantasy that I fancy Harry, but that is so not true,” she says. “Me and Harry had a really good, strong friendship. I really trusted him all the way through. It was nothing else. And me and Harry still have a great friendship. It has been rubbish for our partners, and I think the public do forget that there are real people behind what they’re saying. So it’s not been very nice for them either, but it’s quite nice now that in an interview I can properly put my point across, and I just think it’s crazy, that in this day and age, a boy and a girl can’t be friends without there being romance speculation.”
While in the castle, she and Harry would discuss double dates. “I think we planned them like 100 times,” she says. “And I can’t wait to see his partner and go for a drink with her.” Despite reports – and probably to Mollie’s boyfriend’s relief – Harry is not taking Mollie on holiday. “That was just a little joke that we had,” she says. “Harry doesn’t owe me anything. He doesn’t owe me a holiday. I don’t want any of his money!”
I get the impression that Mollie knows how to protect herself from all the intensity around The Traitors, given what she has been through in the past. She was born without a right hand, and while she was never bullied for her limb difference, there was “the odd nasty comment”. “I had a really good group of friends,” she says, “but I do remember someone from another school said something nasty about my hand, and our school was playing them at rugby the next day. The person who said it had a broken nose by the end of the rugby match, let’s just say that.”
It was when she was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at the age of 11, though, that her health struggles really began. Colitis is an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation in the large intestine, triggering ulcers and debilitating pain. It had a huge effect on her life.
I couldn’t imagine my life with a stoma. I just thought that would be the end of it
“To put it quite frankly, I couldn’t really leave the house because my life revolved around where the nearest toilet was,” she says. “That’s all I cared about. And if I wasn’t within walking distance of a toilet, I would be having a panic attack. I’d also be having accidents daily, and soiling your pants at 18 is not really what you want to be doing on a night out.” She chuckles at the thought of it. “I couldn’t do anything, I couldn’t have fun. I couldn’t plan a holiday because I would get a flare-up and then I wouldn’t be able to go. I just couldn’t enjoy life at all.” Mollie missed a lot of secondary school. “I remember having accidents in school and it was just the most embarrassing thing ever, you know? And you kind of hate yourself.”
When Mollie was 18, she had life-changing surgery to have her colon removed and her small intestine diverted out of an opening in her abdomen known as a stoma. She calls hers Sid. It took a lot of convincing for her to get the surgery, after trying every other treatment available. “When I was 15, it was a really big conversation, but there was no way I was having that surgery then. You were not getting me in that room. I couldn’t imagine my life with a stoma. I just thought that would be the end of it. I just could not accept the fact that I was gonna have a bag of s*** on my stomach, to be honest.” She laughs again. “Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I wish I did have the surgery earlier, now I know what I know.”
Before The Traitors, on the side of her job as a hospital healthcare assistant, Mollie did disability modelling for brands such as Tommy Hilfiger. She has modelled different kinds of adaptive clothing, from tops that have magnets instead of buttons – for people with a limb difference – to swimwear and underwear that accommodates a stoma. “I really do want to keep raising awareness and educating people, because a lot of people just don’t know what colitis is,” she says. “I’ve had people say to me, ‘Did you pick that up off the toilet seat?’ I just think, ‘No babe, I didn’t. But that’s crazy you think that.’ It needs to be spoken about a lot more. And a lot of people think that stomas are smelly and disgusting, when in reality they are so clean and they save people’s lives.” She smiles. “They’re seen as such a negative and we need to change that narrative.”
Between challenging stereotypes and debunking those Harry rumours, changing the narrative is something she’s become a master at.
‘The Traitors’ is available to watch in full on BBC iPlayer