X Factor New Zealand judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon sacked after 'bullying' contestant Joe Irvine live on air

The husband and wife duo were fired for their 'destructive tirade' on Sunday

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The Independent Culture

Two judges on New Zealand’s version of The X Factor have been sacked for “bullying” a contestant live on air.

Married duo Natalia Kills and Willy Moon were fired by MediaWorks, the owner of network TV3, after launching into a “destructive tirade” of verbal abuse on Sunday night.

Joe Irvine, 25, was attacked by Kills for allegedly copying Moon’s style “from the hair to the suit”. “Do you not have any value or respect for originality?” she asked, before describing him as “creepy”, “cheesy” and “disgusting”.

“You’re a laughing stock,” Kills said after Irvine’s performance of Michael Buble’s “Cry Me A River”. “I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious.

“I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence, even having to dignify you with an answer of my opinion. You make me sick. You have no identity.”

Irvine took the harsh criticism bravely, simply calling Kills “beautiful” in response, but Moon quickly picked up where she had left off.

“To me it just feels a little bit cheap and absurd,” he said, to boos from the audience. “It’s like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother’s clothing. I feel like you’re going to stitch someone’s skin to your face and kill everybody.”


Mediaworks soon confirmed that the pair would not be returning to the judging panel, with two new mentors set to take over their teams from next week.

“Both Kills and Moon made comments that were completely unacceptable,” a spokeperson said in a statement. “While the judges on X Factor are expected to provide critiques of the performances, we will not tolerate such destructive tirades from any of the judges.

“Contestants put their all into this competition and they should expect to receive feedback and criticism that is professional and constructive. We no longer have confidence that Kills and Moon are the right people to perform the role of X Factor judges and they will leave the show, effectively immediately.”


Remaining judges Stan Walker and All Saints’ Melanie Blatt both directed critical tweets at Kills on Monday morning.

TV3 also addressed the issue on Facebook, emphasising that it “does not condone bullying” and that “Joe is doing well”.