M-Net has backed the controversial 5fm radio presenter, Gareth Cliff in his own talk show � The Gareth Cliff Talk Show � which kicked off its 13 episode run on 23 September. The show is filmed in Johannesburg.

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Gareth Cliff
M-Net�s Head of Local Content, Helen Smith, says the time is right for a high-profile celebrity-driven talk show. �This show is bound to ruffle some feathers and spark interesting debate around a variety of topics.�

Smith explains that they did a pilot of the show and undertook extensive research. �Talk shows are traditionally a difficult genre to crack, as the host plays a vital part, but we are thrilled with the feedback we received.�

Each week Cliff will chose a topic to be explored, with his views being challenged by three panel guests. The show is produced by Imani Media and directed by television veteran, Bobby Heaney.

Cliff says that he is thrilled to be doing the show. �This is something that we�ve never really had on South African TV in my lifetime � a talk show about things we are all interested in, that isn�t serious and heavy.�

Cliff, who is known to be controversial, does not shy away from this image, and says there should be no difference between honest, fun discussion on radio or television. �I�m determined that this should be about you and me having a conversation, like we would at the dinner table, with the most interesting people joining in.�

Heaney says that they have been sitting with the idea to do this show for a while and that they always considered Cliff the person to carry the show. �From Gareth�s early broadcast days I identified him as someone that I would like to work with. His confidence, intelligence, humour and extraordinary skill as a broadcaster made him, in my mind, a natural for a TV talk show host.�

Heaney explains that he contacted Cliff and Rina Bloomberg (Cliff�s agent) and suggested that they do a show. However, she is very particular about managing Cliff�s talent and he was a bit skeptical about the show, at first not feeling ready. �We talked regularly about the show over the years and finally last year after Gareth�s exposure on Idols, we all felt that the time was right.�

Heaney believes that Cliff has earned the right to have his own talk show. �He is undoubtedly one of South Africa�s top talk show hosts. He has built up a huge following � those who love or hate him. I am convinced that he will draw in a wide audience. The show will be a breath of fresh air to the stale South African TV talk show environment.�

The emphasis of the show, Heaney says, will be on entertainment. �We are delighted that the half hour show goes out after the watershed 8pm so that Gareth has the freedom to be a little more controversial.�

The show will be shot at M-Net�s Studio 6 in Johannesburg. �Bruce Townsend and I will provide the production skills. I do not think that the team could be any stronger. We are confident that this will become a perennial favourite,� comments Heaney.