ITV 'stands behind' decision to broadcast Diversity's BGT performance

Media regulator Ofcom has received more than 21,000 complaints and is thought to be weighing up whether to launch an investigation into the dance. Credit: ITV

ITV has said it "stands behind" its decision to televise dance troupe Diversity's Black Lives Matter-inspired performance on Britain's Got Talent.

Media regulator Ofcom has received more than 20,000 complaints and is thought to be weighing up whether to launch an investigation into the dance.

The routine included a white performer kneeling on the neck of Ashley Banjo, a performer and judge on BGT, which was made in reference to George Floyd's death while in police custody.

It also included themes about the coronavirus pandemic, poverty and other topics relating to 2020.

Complainants have said the Saturday night performance was an inappropriate platform for a political statement.

In a statement on Tuesday, ITV 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.

The performance has more than two million views on YouTube. Credit: ITV

"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."

Mr Banjo has since defended the Black Lives Matter-inspired performance on his social media.

In a post on Instagram, Mr Banjo quoted black right activist Martin Luther King, saying: "Stick with Love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

Saturday's performance has received more than 20,000 complaints. Credit: ITV

He added in an Instagram video: "It was layered.

"It was something we wanted to bring to the stage to give people hope, but also not to shy away from the difficult conversations and the difficult issues that have arisen this year."

Mr Banjo said the support, in the form of "hundreds of thousands of messages, comments, DMs and just interactions in the street", had been "overwhelming".

But he said the routine had also sparked "a lot" of negativity, and he posted a series of examples of the racist abuse he has received on social media.

He revealed on his Instagram he had had received "everything from racial abuse to threats to some really nasty stuff"..

"A lot of the negativity and the nastiness and the racism shows exactly why this performance was needed, and exactly why this conversation that has now arisen from it is necessary.

"Racism is very real.

"I knew it before, and I definitely know it now."