Britain’s Got Talent has been hit by more than 7,500 complaints following Diversity’s emotional Black Lives Matter-themed routine.
Ashley Banjo and co took to the stage at the weekend for the moving performance, which was inspired by the death of George Floyd and saw Banjo lay beneath a figure in police uniform who placed his knee on the star’s neck.
The routine divided viewers of the ITV show, with many saying it highlighted important issues and left them in tears, but others complaining that it was too politicised.
Broadcasting watchdog Ofcom has now received 7,581 complaints about the episode, according to reports.
The Sun quoted a spokesperson as saying: “We are assessing the complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate."
After the performance, Banjo addressed the reaction on Twitter.
He thanked fans for their support and added: “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.”
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 pic.twitter.com/3kP0ymUj88— Ashley Banjo (@AshleyBanjo) September 6, 2020
The dancer – who is standing in as a judge on BGT while Simon Cowell is recovering from back surgery – later followed it up by sharing a message he had been sent on Instagram that included a picture of himself alongside boxer Anthony Joshua and Formula 1 racer Lewis Hamilton.
It said: "Dear Joshua and Banjo and any other Black public figures. We the Great British Public will only support you if you entertain us and do not say anything about racism."
The star - who won BGT with Diversity in 2009 - replied: “For the people sending this:
“1. You do not represent or speak for the Great British public.
“2. Silence was never and will never be an option.
“3. Change is inevitable... Get used to it.”
Fellow BGT judges Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon were among those to respond, with Holden posting a picture of a heart and Dixon writing: “The [sic] can kiss my black a**!”
Earlier this week Ashley’s brother Jordan Banjo told of his sadness at the level of abuse he had received online after the performance.
Speaking on the Kiss Breakfast Show, he said Diversity had received a lot of “positivity and love” but were also “bombarded with messages and articles of horrible stuff about us, about our families”.