BGT: Diversity BLM performance attracts complaints to Ofcom

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Ashley Banjo (left) is also sitting in for Simon Cowell as a judge

A Black Lives Matters-inspired performance by dance troupe Diversity on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent has received hundreds of complaints.

Ofcom said there were 1,121 complaints about BGT, mostly regarding Diversity.

Ashley Banjo led Saturday’s routine, which saw him being knelt on by a police officer, a reference to George Floyd’s death in police custody.

Banjo, who is also a BGT judge, said Diversity “wanted to express how the events of this year have made us feel”.

“We are assessing the complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate,” an Ofcom spokesperson told the BBC.

There was no confirmation of the exact nature of the complaints but the performance attracted both praise and scorn on social media for its political stance, with Banjo referring to both in his tweet after the show.

Part of the Diversity performance saw Banjo lying on the floor while a dancer dressed as a police officer handcuffed him. Other performers crowded around with smartphones as if to film and take photos of the incident.

The dance was also narrated, and included the line: “What we thought we knew, some clearly didn’t. Black Lives Matter.”

The group, who won the talent show in 2009, then all took a knee before the song Black Lives Matter by Dax began, which features the lyrics: “I can’t breathe,” the words which George Floyd repeatedly said as he was restrained.

A BGT spokesperson said: “Diversity’s performance offered their take on the extraordinary events of 2020 opening up important topics of conversation. The show was compiled for a family audience.”

Diversity have also been approached for comment.

Banjo is taking Simon Cowell’s place on the judging panel for this series after Cowell injured his back.

The show returned to screens after lockdown with a few changes due to coronavirus – fans were seen beamed in on a huge screen behind the stage as there was no studio audience.

And juggling comedian Steve Royle became the first contestant to win a place in the BGT final after a format change meant the judges could choose one of the acts to go straight through to the final.

The other seven competitors will now face the public vote in the hope of landing the other place.

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