“Any depictions of violence by the performers were highly stylised and symbolic of recent global events, and there was no explicit reference to any particular political organisation – but rather a message that the lives of black people matter.”
The dance troupe’s routine tackled issues such as police brutality, racism, and the coronavirus pandemic.
Part of the routine showed a dancer portraying a white police officer kneeling on the neck of lead dancer and choreographer Ashley Banjo, echoing the killing of George Floyd in the US earlier this year.
Earlier this week, ITV addressed the backlash received after the routine – defending the performance.
Sharing a statement with MailOnline, they 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.
“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.”
Ashley Banjo revealed he’s been subjected to “racial abuse and threats” following Diversity’s performance.
Addressing the controversy in an IGTV on Sunday, he said: “It’s been a lot, everything from racial abuse to threats, to just some really nasty stuff…I’m not going to give light to it, I’m not going to give it any more time than it deserves.”
“But a lot of the negativity, the nastiness, and the racism shows exactly why these performances and exactly why this conversation that has arisen is so necessary.”
“Racism is very real, I’ve known it before and I definitely know it now,” he continued.
Ashley began the video by thanking his fans for their support: “I want to say thank you to all the people who are supportive of me and Diversity’s performance, who’ve reached out.
“Honestly it’s overwhelming the positive reaction to what we did. Hundreds of thousands of messages, comments, DMs and interactions in the street.”
“There’s been what 15-16,000 complaints of negativity thrown back at the performance, but trust me I’m right in the centre of it and the negativity is in the minority.
“The positive response has been huge so thank you so much everyone who has supported and shown love, stood by what we did.”
“Everyone who reached out who checked if we were alright, thank you to you as well,” he added.
“We are good though, we are feeling positive, proud, happy confident and we stand by every single decision that we made for that performance.”
“If I’m honest with you to be able to stand on the very stage that launched Diversity into the limelight as a judge on the panel, standing up for something, using our art to spark nationwide conversation, what more could I ask for as a creative and an artist?
“To entertain, to get people talking, to cause emotion, that is everything I could have asked for so I am proud and like I said I stand by it so thank you to everyone showing their positivity.”
Ashley admitted it’s been hard to stay positive following the backlash: “After this performance everything that we’ve seen, I don’t know, it’s been overwhelmingly negative sometimes, which is tough.
“But still, like I said, [I’m] standing strong and feeling so happy with what we’ve done, if that’s what it takes that’s a price I’m absolutely willing to pay.”
Ashley admitted that the routine was intended on being a “summary of 2020”, tackling topics like COVID-19, George Floyd’s death and the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It was layered, it was something we wanted to bring to the stage to bring hope but also not to shy away from difficult conversations and difficult issues that have arisen.
“That’s exactly why the question whether Britain’s Got Talent was the right platform was one that I just can’t get on board with.
“If an artist or creative can’t use real world issues, universal issues, to inspire their art and come through how they express them then what’s the point?” he asked.
“Britain’s Got Talent has been a stage for so many incredible performers, artists and talents who want to express all different kinds of emotions and views, and stories, human ones.
“Of course political ideas are going to work into performances because it affects us every single day, universal things that affect us, that is what art is; it’s an expression of how we feel and this set of 2020 is exactly that.
“The bit that was really seemed to connect with people and agitate, annoy and offend people was the fact that we stood up and said that racism is real and as far as we’re concerned it has to change so that we’re tolerant because Black Lives Matter.”
“Now, a lot of people were offended at the political nature of that statement, but that’s never what we intended, black lives mattered long before it was anything political or affiliated with one set of people with a statement.
“Black Lives Matter is a fact. It is and always will be a fact. That’s what I stand by that’s what every single one of my team proudly standby and that’s why we included it in our summary of 2020.
“I’m so glad that this performance has almost ignited the spark of that conversation to be continued again,” he added.
“The fact that it was a medium like a dance and it was on a show like Britain’s Got Talent in the mainstream is so important.”
“Families, schools, homes, friends are now having this conversation about something that is very real and affects so many people.
“I’m proud, I’m happy and like I said I want to say thank you to everyone who supported us. I don’t want this conversation to end.”
On this week’s episode of Goss Chats, Goss.ie CEO Ali Ryan chats with award-winning makeup artist and MRS Glam creator, Michelle Regazolli Stone.
The celebrity MUA opens up about the ups and downs of living through the pandemic, and how her makeup range saved her.
#GossChats is sponsored by top Irish aesthetic clinic Haus of JeJuve.