THE BLACK Lives Matter-inspired performance by dance troupe Diversity has sparked 20,000 Ofcom complaints since its initial airing on Britain’s Got Talent last week.
The routine, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, saw Diversity lead dancer and choreographer Ashley Banjo lying on the floor whilst a performer dressed as a police officer restrained him. He then stated ‘What we thought we knew, some clearly didn’t – Black Lives Matter.’
The performance was in response to a series of ongoing events which have sparked a global conversation about institutional racism and racially motivated police violence, including the killing of George Floyd.
The performance featured a remix of the viral spoken word poem: The Great Realisation, by Tomfoolery, which discusses life in a post-coronavirus world. Before the song Black Lives Matter by Dax played, including the lyrics ‘I can’t breathe’ – the last words of George Floyd.
Other references to the BLM movement, such as taking a knee and themes of police brutality were also depicted in the powerful performance.
Since its debut, the performance has received an influx of both praise and outrage from BGT viewers. Many discussed how “powerful” and “deeply moving” the piece was, with some even expressing the performance moved them to tears. Others felt the dance was too “political” for a family entertainment show.
Banjo, who is currently sitting in for Simon Cowell following a back injury, took to Twitter to respond to the mixed reactions.
“So much to say… But I’ll Just let the performance talk. Thousands of messages of Love and support – Thank you
For the thousands of messages of hate and ignorance – Thank you. You highlight exactly what needs to change. Sending nothing but love to you all #Diversity “
TV watchdog Ofcom told MailOnline that they are “assessing these complaints against our broadcasting rules, before deciding whether or not to investigate” Diversity’s performance.
In a later statement, Banjo said: “This performance is extremely special to me and the rest of Diversity. 2020 has been an incredible moment in history for both positive and negative reasons.
“We wanted to use the platform we’ve been given to make our voices heard, express how the events of this year have made us feel and think about how we might look back on them in the future. We call it hindsight 2020.”
Later this week, it was reported that Alesha Dixon threatened to quit Britain’s Got Talent if ITV apologised for Diversity’s performance. However, she later refuted such claims on Twitter: “I have never threatened to quit BGT… I do however stand by and support Ashley Banjo and Diversity.” She also defended Banjo against abuse on social media, telling racist trolls to ‘kiss my black a**’.
In the most recent BGT episode, defiant Banjo made a fitting entrance to Elton John’s infamous I’m Still Standing.
Britain’s Got Talent continues Saturday’s on ITV.