Britain's Got Talent: Diversity star Ashley Banjo shares 'racism and hate' posts as complaints surpass 21,000

September 14, 2020

Diversity dancer Ashley Banjo has called out "racism" and "hate" following the group's Black Lives Matter-inspired performance on Britain's Got Talent - as complaints about the routine rose to more than 21,000.

Banjo, leader of the dance troupe and a temporary judge on the show, posted examples of comments he has received on social media, and said the negative response is "the very thing that makes every single second of that performance and every single complaint worth it".

Diversity, who won the contest in 2009, took to the Britain's Got Talent stage with a politically-charged routine during a semi-final of the ITV show on 5 September.

Their performance showed a white police officer kneeling on Banjo's neck in a moment that echoed the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US, which sparked Black Lives Matter protests around the world.

Hundreds of viewers complained to Ofcom in the days afterwards, and the figures increased as the story made headlines.

On Monday afternoon, the media watchdog confirmed to Sky News that the figure has now risen to 21,673 - up from 15,000 at the end of last week.

No further details were given, but a spokesperson has previously said the complaints are being assessed to decide whether or not an investigation is needed.

Ofcom has not given details about the nature of the complaints.

Addressing the backlash, Banjo shared screenshots of "a small selection" of the comments he has received on social media, including one that argued the response is criticism rather than racism.

"No I don't mean 'criticism'... I mean 'Racism'," Banjo posted in reply. "I mean hate... I mean the very thing that makes every single second of that performance and every single complaint worth it.

"I didn't want to even shed light on any of this directly. But here's just a small selection from the past week.

"And please don't worry about or feel sorry for me... Feel sorry for the people that endure this kind of abuse and have no voice or platform. Feel sorry for the people that have been singled out, abused and in some cases murdered because of the colour of their skin.

"The only saving grace is that this is the vast minority... But for all the people asking or wondering - yes it is very real and yes it does exist."

On Sunday, Banjo shared a video saying that people responding negatively are in the minority and that he has received a "huge" reaction from people praising the routine.

The dancer is a judge on the show for this series following Simon Cowell's back injury.

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Fellow panelist Alesha Dixon also tweeted at the weekend, following a report that she had threatened to quit the show should ITV apologise for the performance.

She said this was not true, but added: "I do however stand by and support Ashley Banjo and Diversity."

The figure of 21,673 is the second highest number of complaints to Ofcom for a TV show since at least 2010. The watchdog received 25,327 in 2018 about Celebrity Big Brother, when ex-Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett falsely alleged she had been assaulted by fellow housemate Ryan Thomas.

A spokesperson for Britain's Got Talent said: "Diversity's performance offered their take on the extraordinary events of 2020 opening up important topics of conversation.

"The show was complied for a family audience."

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