Gareth Cliff is a South African radio disc jockey and television personality best known for hosting a weekday breakfast show on 5FM and as a judge on the M-Net reality competition series Idols, since the second season in 2003.
In 2009 he hosted his own talk show on M-Net called The Gareth Cliff Show, which ended after one season.
Cliff, who joined Idols in Season 2, is one of South Africa's most followed celebrities on Twitter. Having studied Law, International Relations, Politics and History, Gareth is known for sharing challenging, bold and entertaining opinions with his listeners and social media friends.
He has won several awards including People's Choice Crystal Award for Favourite Radio Personality; Kids Favourite TV Presenter and Favourite Radio Presenter; has regularly been one of the top South Africans in the HEAT Top 100; as well as regular winner and finalist in the YOU awards.
Cliff was found in contravention of the code protecting religious freedom by the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) in respect of an interview he conducted with Jesus on his show on Wednesday 10th March 2004.
No sanction was imposed on Cliff or 5fm as it was deemed that the station had taken appropriate action by suspending Cliff for two days and that Cliff had apologized on air.
2011 saw Gareth pen down his sometimes controversial opinions in his book Gareth Cliff on Everything.
In 2013 Gareth had a cameo role in Phineas and Ferb, the number one rated show on Disney XD and the top animated series on Disney Channel.
In 2014 Gareth and his entire team were axed from 5FM, leading him to create a live streaming website for his own radio show, which in turn was filmed every morning for a reality show called The Gareth Cliff Show Live on Comedy Central.
Gareth is also a Director and partner of One on One Productions, which offers presentation training and develops radio ideas.
How old are you?
I'm in my twenties
Father (Rory), Mother (Monica), Brother (Robert) and Sister (Sandra)
Yes. Hecate, an oversized Jack Russell with an eating disorder, who lives with her sister Pepe and her mother Jessica. She is retiring and happy.
Claim to fame?
I don't know, I suppose Radio and TV make you famous - I consider myself interesting, so hopefully a few other people do too...
What should you stop spending your hard earned cash on?
Clothes, sunglasses, cd's, watches, petrol, Mont Blanc pens, swords, trivial rubbish that I'll never use (like ebay auction stuff), joke-presents for friends, and historical memorabilia.
If you could, what would you change about yourself and why?
My nose - don't much like the shape; my teeth; my chest and arms - need some long hours in the gym; more seriously - I'm easily talked into things, so I'd like to clear my diary of a lot of clutter.
What do you love most about yourself?
Superficially - my legs; I have great legs, I'll show you...
What do you hate most about yourself?
That I can't get to sleep early enough during the week. I stay up until three or four doing work. I think it's my most productive time.
What is the worst lie you have ever told?
I don't lie, but I once told a girl that I was hung like a horse - which of course is a most terrible lie. She knew it instantly.
What is the worst job you have ever had?
I was a waiter at a country club for an hour: this moron ordered a whiskey and water, so I brought it to him and he told me he wanted a whiskey and soda. I told the customer he was wrong, because the stupid drunk old tosspot was, so he told me to call the manager. I said that he could do it himself, and that he could thank him for me and tell him that I quit. I didn't even collect my pay. I will never do any work again where I don't feel I'm enjoying it.
What is the worst social faux pas you have ever made?
No, my family wouldn't allow or pardon any social faux-pas, so I'm rigid with formality and correctness. If anybody tells you anything else, they're a terrible liar and you should ignore them. Really, I have pretty good social form.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
Loads: being felt up recently by a well-known celeb - I can't say who, cause I'd be sued - but I was very, very drunk, and thankfully was dragged away before he (yes, he!) got too confident. my girlfriend told me the next morning and I went into a deep depression - yes, laugh while you can, wait 'till it happens to you. I've walked straight into a fountain at a fancy party in Johannesburg in front of everybody and once said terrible things about someone who was standing right behind me. Felicia has never forgiven me...
Who is your fantasy playmate and why?
Janine Lindemulder (the guys will know who I'm talking about). she is one of the most talented and beautiful women in the world and I already know what I'd be in for.
What is your favourite quote/saying?
"If you have charm, you don't much need anything else; but if you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have."
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
"Try not. Do - or do not. There is no try" - Yoda in Star Wars
What is the worst advice you have ever been given?
What/who is the most important thing in your life? Why?
Music. Music is the one thing I'll never get sick of, and it's the one obsession I'll have until I die. Never fails to make me laugh, cry, scream or smile. There are songs I can listen to in the dark that make the hairs on my arms stand up.
What do you never leave home without? why?
Cell phone, wallet, sunglasses - actually a bunch of stuff - I'm a Virgo and obsessive-compulsive. I always have a change of clothes in the boot of my car and a bag with a toothbrush, shampoo, conditioner, and all that shit in case I need it. Look, think and anticipate!
Who would you say is your role model and why?
Lots of people inspire me for different reasons (I am trying to take your question seriously...), but it's boring for you to read a list of influences. Simply put: Napoleon for balls, Newton for brains, Nicholson for attitude, Jesus for popularity, James Earl Jones for voice; David Beckham for... oh wait, nothing; Mandela for humility; my parents for patience.
Describe your dream date.
Heidi Klum - you need detail? We would start at the Four Seasons hotel in Manhattan with a really smart dinner, then take a helicopter to limelight on 20th street or the Hudson Hotel bar on 59th and party like wild animals until we were tired. From there we'd fly (I'd rub her feet and feed her strawberries all the way there) to Biarritz or Juan-Les-Pins and board a yacht for the Greek islands for three weeks with nobody else. Does that count as one date? Of course if she didn't like any of that, we'd watch videos and eat popcorn on the sofa.
Describe the worst date you've ever had.
I went to pick her up and changed my mind on the way, drove home and went to sleep. I did sms her to let her know I was gone forever.
What is your favourite book of all time and why?
J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye (actually I've never read it, but everybody else says it's the best...) I don't read fiction. People tell better stories when they talk than when they write. I prefer biographies, journals, books on history, architecture, art, geography, etc. I love paging through the atlas, promise.
Well, what are you reading right now?
Power And Greed by Philippe Gigantes, The Murdoch Archipelago by Bruce Page and Vanity Fair Magazine
What is your favourite movie of all time and why?
Remains of the Day (Emma Thompson, Anthony Hopkins) - it's just very beautiful. There is very little dialogue, but more is said than can fill a year, or any script. It's not a movie for stupid people, and it was filmed at a relative of mine's house in England.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Local - the Natal South Coast (pretty simple really - sun, sea, sand and gorgeous girls).
International - Le Morne Brabant in Mauritius or Jamaica (my grandmother was born there) - for the same reasons. I'm more of a beach boy than a snowman. I've never been to Thailand or the Maldives, but I believe they're very beautiful. I've also been to a game reserve called Lion Sands - which is probably the most magnificent place in South Africa
What is your favourite childhood memory?
All the people who were always around - maybe that's why I like attention. There were always hundreds of people, family and friends. I was never left alone. My parents are mad and have dangerous friends, so I'm not really bothered by much. Some of my parents' friends set fire to themselves or dance around naked. They all swear, but have immaculate table manners and breeding. I suppose I learnt from an early age to have fun.
Who have you met that's really famous or interesting?
Bill Clinton, The Queen, Nelson Mandela, Prince Charles, Richard Branson, Larry King, Howard Stern, Colin Powell, Charles Spencer, Ja Rule, Ed Kowalczyk, David Foster, Joan Rivers, Krista Allen, n'Sync, Westlife, Tim Robbins, Prince Andrea Casiraghi of Monaco, Naomi Campbell, Craig David, Tito Mboweni. Those are the ones I can think of - I've been lucky - in radio you meet lots of interesting people.
What is your favourite food and drink?
Anytime - a well-prepared steak. In terms of food I'm actually common. As for drinks, I've recently become more experimental (until 2001, I used to drink only coca-cola and water). I'll drink dry wines at supper, fine champagne in celebration, vodka and red-bulls for raucous occasions, dry martinis in polite company, and orange juice at breakfast. Shooters are either Jagermeister, suitcases or tequila, but I've recently become acquainted with absinthe, which is foul and dirty, but terribly sexy. Gareth Gates lit Sambucca in my mouth recently, but I won't hurry to repeat that experience. Often the company dictates the level of potency of liquor.
Who is the first person you ever kissed? How old were you? Where were you and what was it like?
Vanessa Inggs, my first real girlfriend in Standard Two, at Catherine Tonkin's house party in Hilton, Natal. I was 10. It was scary, because I wasn't sure whether she wanted me to, poor girl is probably emotionally scarred...
What is your biggest regret?
No point in regrets - they just make you bitter and twisted.
In your next life, what would you like to come back as and why?
A debauched rock star, like Don Henley. he would line up 12 naked women and make each of them sing lines from Hotel California while he had his way with them... either him or John Cleese.
What is your biggest turn on?
Most people will tell you something indirect and some will even lie and say that a certain colour or sound turns them on - that's just rubbish! porn is the only thing that works every time.
What is your biggest turn off?
Hairy 70's porn
What do you sleep in?
Summer - boxers
Winter - boxers and a t-shirt
What's the first thing you do in the morning?
Throw my alarm clock against the wall.
What is the last thing you do at night?
Pick up my alarm clock from the floor and check if it still works.
What is the most romantic thing you have ever done?
It'll sound too cheesy in print - plus, if I tell you now, I'll never be able to use it again.
What is the most romantic thing that anyone has ever done for you?
I was at a loud party in Pretoria in 1996 and this really pretty girl saw me and dropped a note down from a balcony into my hands. I stood below and looked at her, she smiled and came down the stairs and without saying a word, kissed me and took it back. Nice girl, nice kiss, nice memory. I still don't know who she was or what it was all about. She might well have been a serial killer.
What is the worst purchase you have ever made?
Mogs the black cat - she was run over a few days later. No return on my investment. I also bought a mate of mine the David Hasselhoff CD from the bargain bin at Musica. I couldn't wait to give it to him. He didn't seem to like it though, and turned it into a coaster.
What is the best purchase you have ever made?
All the decent presents I have bought for other people.
What makes you scared?
Essop Pahad and clowns. Sorry, that was superfluous.
What makes you laugh?
Everything. Everything's funny - or should be. Even Essop Pahad.
What makes you cry?
Music; really brilliant movies; being on my own under a clear night sky when I feel nostalgic; the people I love; the fact that I can't call Heidi's parents mama and papa Klum.
I am beautiful because…
I am not a big fat pig.
Who do you envy? why?
God - all that power and omnipotence, mmm very nice...
What inspires you to get out of bed every morning?
Money. That's about the only reason I'm motivated to do any work anymore. That and the fact that if I didn't, they would fire Thabo Modisane.
If you could be a politician, who would you choose to be and why?
The Pope - everybody thinks he's so nice and friendly, he's loaded with cash, can tell people what to do, damn them to hell, take as much money as he wants from peasants in South America and travel the world kissing tarmacs - and all he has to do is pray and chant every Easter. He has hundreds of people working for him (if he's tired they carry him); is boss of a whole country (the Vatican state); and speaks Latin (which he makes up as he goes, because nobody speaks Latin anymore). He can send his enemies on dangerous crusades; find out all sorts of things you'd keep secret by calling you in for inquisitions; force you to have kids even if you can't afford them ('cause he doesn't like contraception); and he can bless things that aren't even important. He can get fat and hide it under robes and kaftans, go senile and keep his job, sleep under a ceiling painted by Michelangelo and hang a Da Vinci in the loo. Think about it, he has a car exclusively made for him (the popemobile), hats that will make him stick out in any crowd, and a hotline to God. What more could you want?
What would you like to be written as your epitaph?
The White Martin Luther King! I don't know, I'll be dead. Maybe something about how I never took myself seriously...
Have you ever said I love you and not meant it?
All the time.
What's the most important lesson so far, that you have learnt in life?
Everybody counts, but they're all in it for themselves - so make sure you're nice to most of the people, most of the time. You never know where they might fit into your destiny or the scheme of things. People are interested in themselves, so if you talk about them they think you're cool.
Give us a good tip for parties
Go big or go home. Only go to parties that you're sure will score a 10. Only take someone you know will fit in, or you'll spend the night "looking after" them. Also, try to work something out with your mates, so that they can rescue you if a boring person takes you away and monopolises your company.
How do you feel about beauty
Look at me - what do I know about beauty? I suppose it's the eyes - eyes are what makes someone beautiful. If someone has bright, intriguing eyes, they're probably worth getting to know.
Don't procrastinate - eat properly, go to gym - all that stuff everybody tells you is good for you. Just do it, don't talk about doing it like I do. Starting is half the battle. I've never felt better than since I started looking after myself, mentally and physically.
How do you make conversation, with celebs or cleaning ladies?
Don't aim too high - talk about general stuff. Some people are crap at conversation, sometimes you have to cover for them by talking a lot. Others do all the talking - then you just listen. Don't talk about yourself, it's always boring. I had a girlfriend once, and she was beautiful - but because she was beautiful, she never learnt how to talk to people. Within two weeks I had run out of things to say to her and we had to part - don't be like that if you're attractive, because you'll get old one day, and beauty fades - but boring remains.
How do you feel about excuses?
Alibis are the key - find someone who can cover for you if you're going to make an excuse - even when it's the truth, brief a friend and suspicion will diminish. In most cases, the truth will come out, so rather tell it like it is.
Any fashion tips, of Guru?
Ha ha... Black will always look better than a colour, keep it simple, if in doubt think classic rather than trendy. You can never have enough plain white cotton to-shits and jeans. A good suit is the best investment a man can make and when in doubt, read GQ.
What should people read?
Everything, especially the tabloids and books of quotations.
What should people remember when travelling?
Make lists for everything. I have a list of every possible thing I'd need to travel with on my laptop. When I pack I cross off what I don't need and tick stuff off as I pack it in. I also bought some decent luggage, it makes a big difference if you travel a lot.
Any advice on packing?
Guys - learn to fold your shirts properly, and take a leather jacket. Also, use a decent suitcase.
How about cooking? Are you any good in the kitchen?
What's a kitchen? I'm useless. Screw all the modern-TV-chef crap about how we should all know how to prepare foie gras or lobster thermidor. I never want to have to waste three hours preparing anything that is scoffed down in twenty minutes. Ever. All I learnt from Jamie Oliver and the other TV ponces is that you never mix tomato sauce with real food.
What do you do when you're having a bad face day?
Stay at home
And having a bad hair day?
Wash your hair and start again, or put on a baseball cap - that's what I do.
Is it hard dealing with fans?
It's a huge compliment, so I don't get irritated when people ask me for autographs or photos. It takes a huge amount of courage for them to walk up to me and talk to me out of the blue, so I'll always make an effort. There are good and bad elements - I did once have to get up in the middle of a meal and leave a restaurant because someone was making me really uncomfortable.
How good are you at dealing with criticism?
I don't take anything personally, I just leave it. If you're very offended by someone's criticism of you though, what they said is probably true. That leaves you with two choices - either correct your fault or beat them up.
Having fun and living life to the full
Follow the rules - there aren't a lot of them. Don't break the law. Bad things don't happen because you're unlucky, usually bad things happen because you deserve it. Other than that, go wild. Every day should be full. Take risks, eat ugly things, meet new people in lifts. People will remember you for the dumb things, not the smart things you do. There was this guy at school called Jeremy - the only thing anybody remembers about him is that he farted loudly in assembly - they don't care that he had perfect grades or that he was in the first team.
Questions and answers taken from his Official Site