A Black Lives Matter-inspired routine on “Britain’s Got Talent” by street dance troupe Diversity has resulted in 10,000 complaints from the public to U.K. media regulator Ofcom.
In the episode aired on Sept. 5, Diversity, led by popular U.K. presenter Ashley Banjo, performed a routine, part of which involved him lying on the floor while a fellow dancer dressed in police gear handcuffed him. Other dancers gathered around them with smartphones, simulating filming the incident.
The narration accompanying the dance included the lines, “What we thought we knew, some clearly didn’t. Black Lives Matter.” Diversity began the routine by taking a knee before the song “Black Lives Matter,” by Dax, played.
Complaints started pouring into Ofcom and quickly crossed 1,000. On Sept. 6, Banjo tweeted: “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’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,” a “Britain’s Got Talent” spokesperson said earlier this week.
Banjo is serving as a temporary judge on the show after creator and host Simon Cowell broke his back in an electric bike accident. Diversity won the show in 2009, beating Susan Boyle in the finals.
On Tuesday, the number of complaints to Ofcom were 1,121. As of press time on Thursday, they had risen to 10,267. “Almost all” the complaints are about the Diversity performance, according to Ofcom. “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.
On Wednesday, Banjo posted on Instagram: “Silence was never and will never be an option. Change is inevitable… Get used to it.”
“Britain’s Got Talent” is produced by Thames and Syco Entertainment, distributed by Fremantle, and broadcast on U.K. broadcaster ITV.
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