Gareth Cliff will on Tuesday face M-Net, the broadcasting giant he has launched an urgent court application against in an effort to be reinstated as a judge on signing competition, Idols.
The bitter TV split between them has made headlines after Cliff was fired from Idols for comments he made regarding racist social media posts by estate agent, Penny Sparrow.
In his court papers, Cliff described M-Net’s axing of him as a “knee-jerk” response and said that he found the decision to fire him “peculiar” given the fact that two other judges has also been involved in a public race debate.
“The response by the first respondent [M-Net] in axing me was quite peculiar not only because of its inconsistency with how other judges had been dealt with, but also because M-Net itself had for many years been able to withstand criticism of racism and, more recently, gender discrimination due to either the low number of black winners and/or the total absence to date of a female winner.”
Although initially missing a deadline to respond to Cliff’s urgent application, M-Net hit back hard, saying that market research conducted showed that he was “poison” for the M-Net and Idols brand.
“If M-Net had permitted the 2016 season of Idols to continue with Gareth Cliff as judge and and the threats and calls for a boycott had grown, it would have become even more problematic to address the situation at a later stage and the damage to the Idols and M-Net brands would already have occurred,” said M-Net ceo, Yolisa Phahle in responding court papers.
The heavyweights will slug it out in the Johannesburg High Court on Tuesday. Cliff is asking a judge that he be reinstated. Should the judge not rule in his favour, a second part of his application is that the Idols’ auditions are halted pending a R25m lawsuit.
On Monday night, Cliff remained light-hearted, tweeting this message to his more than 1.25m followers.