London Diversity dancer Ashley Banjo subject to racist abuse

Ashley Banjo said he has received racial abuse and threats since performing his Black Lives Matter-inspired dance routine on Britain’s Got Talent.

The ITV show has received more than 15,500 complaints after broadcasting the performance from dance group Diversity.

The piece was inspired by the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests around the world.

Underscored by Tomfoolery’s viral poem “The Great Realisation”, the performance – broadcast on 5 September – saw group leader Banjo pinned down by a police officer, with the dance troupe going on to take the knee at the words: “Black Lives Matter.”

Many viewers who complained criticised the routine for being “too political” for a Saturday night entertainment programme.

This Is Local London: Ashley Banjo on BGT last SaturdayAshley Banjo on BGT last Saturday

On Sunday night, Banjo took to Instagram to discuss the response to the dance.

“What’s up everyone,” he began, “I just wanted to do a quick video just to address some issues, it has been a crazy week and I have been a bit quiet on social been living life, but now I feel is the time to come out and say a few things…”

Banjo thanked fans for their support, saying he feels “positive, proud, happy and confident” about the performance and emphasising that the negative responses have been “in the minority”.

He said he had received “racial abuse to threats, to just some really nasty stuff”.

“I am not going to give it any more time than it deserves,” added Banjo.

“All of the nastiness and the racism shows exactly why this performance was needed and exactly why this conversation has now arisen from it.

This Is Local London: Diversity's performance has been received 15,000 complaintsDiversity’s performance has been received 15,000 complaints

“Racism is very real, especially after this performance.”

Other members of Diversity said they had been “bombarded” by hateful messages from trolls in the days since the TV event.

ITV have so far stood by the performance, arguing that it opened up “important topics of conversation” and met the criteria for family viewing.

An Ofcom spokeswoman said in relation to the complaints: “We are assessing this content against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.”

It is the second highest number of complaints to Ofcom for a TV show since 2010, after 25,327 were made in 2018 about Celebrity Big Brother when ex-Emmerdale actress Roxanne Pallett alleged she had been assaulted by fellow housemate Ryan Thomas.

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