The Real Housewives of Auckland's racial slur stoush

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Michelle Blanchard and Julia Sloane photographed before the incident. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Michelle Blanchard and Julia Sloane photographed before the incident. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

A major stoush has erupted around hit reality TV show The Real Housewives of Auckland.

Lawyers have been called in to try to block parts of Tuesday's episode airing after controversy over an alleged racial slur.

One of the stars, Julia Sloane, was recorded referring to fellow housewife Michelle Blanchard as a "boat n*****" while they were on a luxury yacht in Port Douglas.

It is understood Sloane immediately apologised on the show. On Saturday she reiterated that apology in a statement to the Herald on Sunday.

"While in Port Douglas filming for Real Housewives of Auckland I made an off-camera and off-the cuff inappropriate comment which caused hurt to Michelle.

"I wasn't thinking. I made a mistake and I have apologised to Michelle for my remark.

"There is no excuse for using offensive words under any circumstances and I have learned from this foolish mistake. I have put this distressing experience behind me and am moving on."

As the Herald on Sunday went to print last night, producers intended using the footage in the show with the word bleeped out.

Sloane's investment banker husband, Michael Lorimer, last night leaped to his wife's defence.

"It was completely taken out of context ... to make Julia look bad," he said.

"We spoke to lawyers to get them to amend the episode. We tried to get the production company to show what they were doing was grossly unfair - but they wouldn't want a bar of it."

The Real Housewives of Auckland on their trip to Port Douglas. Photo / Bravo TV Facebook
The Real Housewives of Auckland on their trip to Port Douglas. Photo / Bravo TV Facebook

Last week's tease showed Gilda Kirkpatrick in tears and shocked faces from the other housewives.

Lorimer said alcohol may have been a factor in the explosive episode.

"There were three drinking sessions that day. They had cocktails for two hours in the morning, wine over lunch and when they went on the boat they carried on drinking," said Lorimer.

In the episode, Kirkpatrick asks Blanchard for a hand up from below decks, prompting Sloane to comment: "She's not your boat n*****."

Lorimer said it was a term he and his wife used occasionally in a tongue-in-cheek way when sailing. It wasn't intended to be racist, he said.

After her gaffe Sloane apologised. Lorimer said Blanchard chastised his wife but accepted the apology.

Lorimer said lawyers were called because the word wasn't caught on camera but microphones picked it up. He claimed the producers manufactured events so it was said again.

The cast at Port Douglas. Photo / Bravo TV Facebook
The cast at Port Douglas. Photo / Bravo TV Facebook

It is understood Blanchard throws a glass of wine at Sloane in response.

Lorimer, who also appears in the explosive episode, was filmed discussing the incident with Julia, but believes he was "heavily edited".

The recently married couple are mortified "Julia has been portrayed as a racist". They approached the producers to edit the word out but that request was refused.

Before filming, all the housewives had to sign a contract that precludes them from editorial control.

A Bravo spokesperson said: "Episode six of Real Housewives of Auckland deals with an incident where a cast member makes an offensive comment to another cast member. We have taken this matter very seriously.

"Bravo has given much consideration to ensuring the events are accurately represented, in order that the context of the remark and subsequent events can be fully understood.

"While the nature of Bravo programming is unscripted, it is a deeply regrettable incident, which we are endeavouring to deal with in a responsible manner."

Tuesday's episode is the sixth in the series screening on MediaWorks' Bravo channel. It follows the exploits of six wealthy Auckland women and has featured tears, tantrums and glamorous parties and no shortage of controversy.

Lorimer said he hadn't enjoyed the attention that had come with the show. "I'd rather not have the attention to be honest, but my kids live on the other side of the world and my clients wouldn't watch that crap."

- Herald on Sunday

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