Earlier this month, Ashley led the stars of Diversity in a dramatic retelling of some of the biggest events of the year – including the murder of George Floyd – for a show that aired during BGT’s first semi-final September 5.
Since then, the episode has received more than 24,000 complaints with regulator Ofcom and is on its way to becoming the most protested television event of the decade.
To avoid being shot down by the growing complaints or what he called “racist” social media abuse, Banjo took to Instagram hours before his return to live TV to share an important post.
Along with a photo of himself taking the knee into the dance routine – in homage to the Black Lives Matter movement – Ashley wrote: “This is what change looks like. ”
He added: “@itv is with @diversity_official and we have never been so proud. It’s in all the national newspapers today.
“Thank you again to everyone who supported us. # Diversity ”
The black and white image, which was printed in newspapers across the country today, carried the slogan, “We are changed by what we see. Just like we are changed when we are seen. ”
Underneath it was written: “ITV stands for diversity”.
The move doubles a statement released by ITV earlier this week, in which the broadcaster took a stand on advocacy for diversity despite viewer complaints going over 20k and declining ratings after the performance.
Former BGT winners Diversity were caught in a media storm after their Black Lives Matter-inspired routine on the talent show poloarizes the viwers.
The performance included a moment when a white policeman appeared to kneel on Banjo’s neck as his fellow dancers took photos, in reference to the murder of George Flloyd in America in May.
Ashley said that while he had received reviews for the online performance, the hate was nothing compared to the positive reviews sent to him.
He also claimed that the backlash showed him how much the conversation he and his Diversity friends had started should take place.
ITV also backed the deputy judge and his cast, saying BGT has always been a show that supports diversity and inclusiveness.
An ITV spokesperson: “Britain’s Got Talent has always been an inclusive show, which showcases diversity and supports strong storytelling in all its forms and ITV supports the decision to broadcast Diversity’s performance on BGT.
“Ashley and the band are a prime example of the talent, creativity and diversity of modern Britain and their performance was a genuine and heartfelt response to many of the issues and events that have affected society in 2020.”
Despite complaints almost exceeding Ofcom about the televised event, the watchdog said he would not investigate the performances because they did not violate guidelines.
1. Celebrity Big Brother, Channel 5 – 25 327 plaintes
Roxanne Pallett sparked national outrage in 2018 when she accused fellow ex-soap opera star Ryan Thomas of deliberately hitting her.
The scandal – dubbed the ‘punch-gate’ – infuriated viewers who saw Roxanne grossly exaggerate her gambling fight with Ryan before she was pulled.
The former Emmerdale actress said she left home feeling like “Britain’s most hated woman” before apologizing to Ryan for the upset caused.
2. Britain’s Got Talent, ITV – 24 500 plaintes
A dance performance by former BGT winners. Diversity became the last TV event to hit the record books for all the wrong reasons.
The provocative routine recounted a number of major news events in 2020, including the murder of unarmed black man George Floyd, instantly polarized viewers, with some accusing the family show of becoming ‘too political. “.
ITV has upheld the decision to air the routine with choreographer Ashley Banjo, assuring fans that the positive comments it has received far outweigh the bad.
3. Loose Women, ITV – 8 002 plaintes
The daytime show was embroiled in scandal in 2018 following a nasty row between guest Kim Woodburn and panelist Coleen Nolan that blew up live.
The two had a long history of feuds, and their meeting on the show was touted as a chance to settle their differences in front of viewers.
However, the stunt dramatically turned around when a war of words quickly escalated and resulted in a very emotional Kim calling Coleen “trash” before leaving the stage.
4. UKIP: the first 100 days, channel 4 – 6,187 complaints
The single mock documentary imagined what the world would be like if UKIP came to power and won the general election, told from the perspective of a fictional Asian MP.
More than 6,000 viewers complained to Ofcom, accusing the show of causing electoral bias.
The Guardian reported that a “significant number” of them was just a cut and paste job organized by far-right group Britain First.
5. Sky News – 3,463 complaints
An interview with Tommy Robinson received thousands of complaints in 2018 with supporters of the right-wing activist complaining of being defamed by the channel and accusing them of being politically biased.
In the discussion, Robinson discussed his conviction for contempt of court and his attitude towards Muslims and Islam.
At the time of its airing, the interview was titled: Tommy Robinson: I don’t care if I incite fear of Muslims. ”
Robinson then called the interview “disgusting” on his Facebook page, prompting his followers to complain to the regulator.
Ofcom subsequently decided not to investigate the alleged biases.
The decision on the website said: “Ofcom has received approximately 24,500 complaints regarding the above program. The complainants highlighted a range of concerns about Diversity’s performance, including that the themes of violence and racism were not suitable for the family, that he expressed his support for the political organization “Black Lives Matter” and that he was racist towards whites.
“Ofcom also received a number of messages of support and praise for the performance. Ofcom has assessed this program against the relevant rules of the Broadcasting Code (“the Code”).
“Our assessment is that this program did not raise any issues warranting investigation. In our opinion, Diversity’s performance was an artistic expression of current social issues and did not contain any content that was racist, unfairly violent, or otherwise inappropriate in the context of that program.
“In view of the significant publicity surrounding this case and the high volume of complaints received, we have decided to publish the reasons for this assessment. ”
Britain’s Got Talent returns tonight on ITV at 8 p.m.