Britain’s Got Talent’s Ofcom complaints have more than doubled to 2,966 after dance troupe Diversity performed a routine inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The new figures come as lead dancer, choreographer and guest judge Ashley Banjo defended his group’s performance, calling it ‘his art’.
Diversity’s routine, which narrated the senseless killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in May, had already polarised fans of the mainstream talent show on Saturday night due to its overtly political stance.
Doubled: Britain’s Got Talent’s Ofcom complaints have more than doubled to 2,966 after dance troupe Diversity performed a routine inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement
An Ofcom spokesperson confirmed to MailOnline on Tuesday afternoon that complaints had more than doubled to 2,966. On Monday they were 1,121.
The update comes as Ashley, 31, defended the routine and took to Instagram to release a statement.
He penned: ‘Art: The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. My truth, my platform, my art.
‘I’ve always tried to create not only to entertain but also to inspire… That will never change.’
‘My truth, my platform, my art’: The new figures come as lead dancer, choreographer and guest judge Ashley Banjo defended his group’s performance, calling it ‘his art’ (pictured in 2019)
Ashley then referenced a Martin Luther King Jr quote as he revealed he was both ‘grateful’ and ‘overwhelmed’ by the support.
He continued: ‘Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter’ – Martin Luther King Jr.
‘I’m so grateful and overwhelmed by all of the love and support but also by the amount of conversation this performance has thrown up 2020 has been such a historical year.
‘One day we will look back and realise it was the start of real change… Sending out nothing but love and positivity to everyone reading this post #wearediversity.’
Support: Ashley’s post was flooded by messages of support from his fellow dancers and celebrity pals
Statement: Ashley also wrote on Sunday, just hours after the performance aired: ‘So much to say… But I’ll Just let the performance talk…’
Ashley’s post was flooded by messages of support from his fellow dancers and celebrity pals.
His brother, Jordan Banjo, 27, put: ‘Proud.’
Perri Kiely, 24, wrote: ‘Nah I’m so gassed to be a part of this.’
Ashley Roberts, 38, said: ‘Loved this performance!!’
While Strictly Come Dancing professional, Neil Jones, 38, added: ‘For me it was powerful.’
Ashley also wrote on Sunday, just hours after the performance aired: ‘So much to say… But I’ll Just let the performance talk. Thousands of messages of Love and support – Thank you.
Spokesperson: An Ofcom spokesperson confirmed to MailOnline on Tuesday afternoon that complaints had more than doubled to 2,966. On Monday they were 1,121
‘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.’
It comes after an Ofcom spokesperson told MailOnline on Monday: ‘I can confirm that we have received 1,121 complaints for Britain’s Got Talent on 5 September, most of which were in relation to the Diversity performance.
‘We are assessing the complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.’
The former Britain’s Got Talent champions opened the performance by reciting a viral poem The Great Realisation by the singer Tomfoolery, about the BLM movement and police brutality.
During their performance the group also illustrated the death of Floyd, who lost his life after police officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on his neck for nearly nine minutes during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25 for nearly nine minutes.
Mixed response: Diversity’s routine, which narrated the senseless killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in May, had already polarised fans of the mainstream talent show on Saturday night due to its overtly political stance
The routine was met with a flurry of mixed responses from viewers, with some calling out the display as making a ‘political statement’ and others hailing the dance ‘powerful’.
One user wrote: ‘Disgraceful! Make political statements elsewhere not on a family TV show.’
While another commented: ‘Wrong time and place. BGT should be a lovely entertainment show not political. I had thoroughly enjoyed the show and forgot the troubles of the world and then thud!
‘So disappointed though AB was a great judge and there was no need for his performance.’
Another person added: ‘I had enjoyed it until then and switched off. It is a talent show not a politics show.’
Emotional: Some Britain’s Got Talent fans were moved to tears on Saturday night as Diversity took to the stage with a performance inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement
Meanwhile another fan wrote: ‘So disappointed this was a political performance. Didn’t expect it on BGT. Not the right performance.’
During their performance, the dance group, who were dressed in riot gear, recited the viral poem The Great Realisation by Tomfoolery, about the BLM movement before going on to show a policemen placing a hand over Banjo’s throat as he lay on the ground to the song I Can’t Breathe.
Speaking after the performance Banjo told MailOnline: ‘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.’
Speaking out: Some viewers took to social media to argue that the performance was a political statement which was not for a family show
Elsewhere other viewers praised the group and BGT bosses for depicting the issue.
One person wrote: ‘Prime time Saturday night TV and dance group Diversity performed a routine inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement which featured a police officer kneeling on member Ashley’s Banjo’s neck. Powerful.’
While another viewer added: ‘What an incredible performance from Diversity- a really brave and meaningful way to keep the message out there! I’m really happy to see such diversity within the team now, too! Awesome!’
Another fan commented: ‘Damn! Diversity on BGT last night was the best thing I’ve ever seen, was so moving and put their story across brilliantly. Brought a tear to the eye! Amazing!’
Another penned: ‘Wow @Diversity_Tweet just wow! Such a powerful important message and done in such a perfect way!’
While another added: ‘That performance by @Diversity_Tweet was absolutely amazing well done very powerful @AshleyBanjo is phenomenal at pulling routines together.’
Captivating: Led by Ashley, the former champions delivered a stunning dance reminding viewers of the movement
Statement: The dance group were dressed in riot gear as they performed a routine narrating the Black Lives Matter movement
Moving: The group began the performance by reciting a viral poem The Great Realisation by singer Tomfoolery
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.
During Saturday’s show Ashley Banjo stepped in for Simon Cowell after he was forced to miss the semi-finals due to a back injury.
Cowell was forced to pull out after breaking his back in a cycling accident, and after a six-hour operation has been recovering at home.
The music mogul has insisted producers have made the show the best it can be despite social distancing now being in place – and has even hinted he will indeed appear at the live final in October, despite being on bed rest.
Asked ahead of the show’s semi-finals whether he worried the 2020 series was a write-off, he said: ‘Yeah, for a moment! But then I thought, ‘Where there’s a will, there’s a way!’
Stunning: Meanwhile other Britain’s Got Talent fans hailed the performance as ‘powerful’ and ‘amazing’
‘I just thought that if we can talk to each other all over the world on something like Zoom then there must be a way for us to do the live shows.’
Cowell underwent emergency surgery in America after the accident in Los Angeles earlier this month, and has been recovering after having a metal rod installed in his back.
This year marks the first time in BGT history that the semi-finals have been pre-recorded, and has also seen changes to the way acts will advance to the final.
Eight contestants will perform in each semi-final and the judges will choose one act to go through. The second finalist will then be chosen via public vote when the episode airs.
With safety concerns paramount, some acts will take part remotely via video link whilst others will perform in the TV studio – with the virtual audiences’ reactions then beamed into the studio on a giant screen.
The series will then culminate with the live final, in October, where one act will triumph as Britain’s Got Talent 2020 Champion and win the life-changing £250,000 prize plus a coveted role on The Royal Variety Performance.
Speaking after the performance Banjo told MailOnline: ‘This performance is extremely special to me and the rest of Diversity.’