Ashley Banjo continued to laugh off backlash about Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired performance on Britain’s Got Talent as he joked he’s ‘patiently waiting’ for BLM routine to become most complained about TV moment of the decade.
The Britain’s Got Talent judge, 31, admitted he was prepared for the routine to break Ofcom records, as complaints soared to 24,041 on Wednesday, while it is currently the second most complained about TV moments of the last few years.
The choreographer addressed the backlash by uploading a sweet photo of himself carrying his daughter Rose, 18 months, on his shoulders, alongside the words: ‘Just me and Rosie patiently watching as we head for the number 1 spot [medal and laugh emoji].’ (sic)
‘Just watching as we head for the number 1 spot’: Ashley Banjo laughed off backlash about Diversity’s BLM performance on Britain’s Got Talent by sharing a family snap on Wednesday
A positive Ashley also focused on the warm reception he’s received from fans on the street as he added in his caption: ‘in other news though, I was out and about today and felt so much love from people ❤️ Never let the minority warp the reality… This country really is Great #Diversity #ofcom.’ (sic)
The group’s routine – performed to highlight issues surrounding racism and police brutality – is still receiving complaints nearly two weeks after originally airing, with TV regulator Ofcom counting 24,041 to date – almost setting a new record as the most protested TV moment of the decade.
Earlier this week, Ashley took to Instagram to post a cute snap of his daughter Rose and baby son Micah, five months, who he shares with wife Francesca Abbott, while he completed ‘dad duties’ by taking them to the park.
Ashley captioned the shot: ‘There’s been a lot of negativity recently so I thought I’d lighten the mood with a picture of me completing some dad duties… One child is brown and one is white… That should confuse the racists.’
His troupe’s set, which narrated the senseless death of black man George Floyd beneath the knee of a white police officer, divided fans after it aired during the live show on Saturday September 5th.
Controversial: The group’s set is still receiving complaints almost two weeks on, with TV regulator Ofcom receiving 24,041 to date
Hitting back: The dancer highlighted ‘one child is brown and one is white’ in a bold message to the naysayers alongside an image of his daughter and son Micah, five months, earlier this week
The negative response has made it the second most complained about TV moment of all time, just behind Roxanne’s Pallett’s notorious appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, with a record 25,237 objections.
ITV have stood by Diversity troupe leader Ashley in a statement to MailOnline.
They said: ‘Britain’s Got Talent has always been an inclusive show, which showcases diversity and supports strong storytelling in all forms and ITV stands behind the decision to broadcast Diversity’s performance on BGT.
Support: ITV have stood by Britain’s Got Talent judge Ashley and his Diversity dance troupe
‘Ashley and the group are a great example of the talent, creativity and diversity of modern Britain and their performance was an authentic, heartfelt response to many of the issues and events which have affected society in 2020.’
On Friday, an Ofcom spokesperson confirmed to MailOnline that BGT had received 15,500 complaints. Last Monday, the figure stood at 1,121.
The representative added: ‘We are assessing the complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.’
Support: The broadcaster shared a statement on their Twitter page as the furore continued
Ashley recently broke his silence about Diversity’s routine during the first semi-final, and welcomed the conversation the complaints have started.
The TV judge addressed both the positive and negative response in a candid video as he revealed he and the group have been the target of ‘racial abuse and threats’ following the dance.
In the statement, he said: ‘It’s been a lot, everything from racial abuse to threats, to just some really nasty stuff. I’m not going to give light to it, I’m not going to give it any more time than it deserves.
‘But a lot of the negativity, the nastiness, and the racism shows exactly why these performances and exactly why this conversation that has arisen is so necessary. Racism is very real, I’ve known it before and I definitely know it now.’
Defiant: Ashley recently broke his silence about Diversity’s routine during the first semi-final, and welcomed the conversation the complaints have started
He originally began his video by thanking those who had supported Diversity and had shared positive messages and well wishes, even mentioning those who had checked in on the members mental well-being during the aftermath of the routine.
Ashley said: ‘Firstly I want to say thank you to all the people who are supportive of me and Diversity’s performance, who’ve reached out.
‘Honestly it’s overwhelming the positive reaction to what we did. Hundreds of thousands of messages, comments, DMs and interactions in the street.
‘There’s been what 15-16,000 complaints of negativity thrown back at the performance, but trust me I’m right in the centre of it and the negativity is in the minority.
‘The positive response has been huge so thank you so much everyone who has supported and shown love, stood by what we did.’
Impressive: Diversity are top of ITV’s wishlist to star in a one-off Britain’s Got Talent Christmas special
He added: ‘Everyone who reached out who checked if we were alright, thank you to you as well.
‘We are good though, we are feeling positive, proud, happy confident and we stand by every single decision that we made for that performance.
‘If I’m honest with you to be able to stand on the very stage that launched Diversity into the limelight as a judge on the panel, standing up for something, using our art to spark nationwide conversation, what more could I ask for as a creative and an artist?
‘To entertain, to get people talking, to cause emotion, that is everything I could have asked for so I am proud and like I said I stand by it so thank you to everyone showing their positivity.’
Sharing his decision to remain positive in the face of racist trolls, he went on: ‘After this performance everything that we’ve seen, I don’t know, it’s been overwhelmingly negative sometimes, which is tough.
‘But still, like I said, [I’m] standing strong and feeling so happy with what we’ve done, if that’s what it takes that’s a price I’m absolutely willing to pay.’
Ashley then described the dance routine in full, stipulating that Diversity were giving a ‘summary of 2020’ with their performance tackling topics like lockdown, COVID-19, the NHS, George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘It was layered, it was something we wanted to bring to the stage to bring hope but also not to shy away from difficult conversations and difficult issues that have arisen,’ he said of the dance.
‘That’s exactly why the question whether Britain’s Got Talent was the right platform was one that I just can’t get on board with.
‘If an artist or creative can’t use real world issues, universal issues, to inspire their art and come through how they express them then what’s the point?
Planning: For the first time in the show’s 13-year history, the semis have been pre-recorded, with the second show being filmed two weeks ago, before Diversity’s BLM performance aired
‘Britain’s Got Talent has been a stage for so many incredible performers, artists and talents who want to express all different kinds of emotions and views, and stories, human ones.
‘Of course political ideas are going to work into performances because it affects us every single day, universal things that affect us, that is what art is; it’s an expression of how we feel and this set of 2020 is exactly that.’
Explaining that he wanted Diversity’s dance to express the ‘rollercoaster of emotions’ that he and the group have experienced this year, he then addressed the portion of the dance dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement.
‘The bit that was really seemed to connect with people and agitate, annoy and offend people was the fact that we stood up and said that racism is real and as far as we’re concerned it has to change so that we’re tolerant because Black Lives Matter.
‘Now, a lot of people were offended at the political nature of that statement, but that’s never what we intended, black lives mattered long before it was anything political or affiliated with one set of people with a statement.
‘Black Lives Matter is a fact. It is and always will be a fact. That’s what I stand by that’s what every single one of my team proudly standby and that’s why we included it in our summary of 2020.’
He praised how the Black Lives Matter movement has ‘made its way around the world’ and ‘started the conversation’ about racism across the globe.
‘I’m so glad that this performance has almost ignited the spark of that conversation to be continued again,’ he admitted.
‘The fact that it was a medium like a dance and it was on a show like Britain’s Got Talent in the mainstream is so important.
‘Families, schools, homes, friends are now having this conversation about something that is very real and affects so many people.
‘I’m proud, I’m happy and like I said I want to say thank you to everyone who supported us. I don’t want this conversation to end.’
Still going strong: Britain’s Got Talent’s second semi-final pulled in 4.95 million viewers, just a week after its first show sparked backlash from viewers (Ashley pictured)
Ashley concluded by reiterating his gratitude to followers who have stood by him and Diversity, and he ‘sent love’ to ‘every single one of you that’s thrown positive energy or negative energy at me and the group.’
Following the death of Floyd earlier this year thousands across the globe took to the streets calling for the officers involved to be jailed for their crime.
Derek Chauvin, 44, was charged in June with second-degree murder while officers Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao – were also charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.