Ashley Banjo entered the Britain's Got Talent studio to Elton John's hit song I'm Still Standing in a defiant display tonight - amid fury over his Black Lives Matter dance routine which prompted 15,000 Ofcom complaints.
The dancer, 31, appeared to hit back at criticism of the controversial Diversity performance as he stepped onstage during the second semi-final of the ITV talent show alongside Simon Cowell, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon.
Banjo's dance group Diversity, which won the third series of Britain's Got Talent in 2009, performed a routine last weekend which narrated the death of George Floyd, who was killed when police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes in May.
Mr Floyd had gasped 'I can't breathe' as he was restrained by Chauvin, and his death triggered global outrage and explosive protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement.
The performance has so-far sparked 15,500 complaints to media watchdog Ofcom, with critics claiming the dance had politicised the entertainment show. One Twitter user insisted: 'They are a dance group not a political movement.'
'I'm Still Standing!': BGT judge Ashley Banjo entered to Elton John's hit in defiant display on Saturday's show as OfCom complaints about Diversity's BLM routine soared to 15,500
Speaking of the routine tonight, Banjo told co-hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly that he 'loved' both performing and judging on the show, after they asked him how he felt following his first week on the panel.
He said: 'I loved it, I loved being on this side of the desk but you guys got me up there as well. So it's my first week where I get to sit back and enjoy the show.'
An Ofcom spokesperson confirmed to MailOnline on Friday afternoon that BGT has received 15,500 complaints so far. On Monday, the figure stood at 1,121.
The representative added: 'We are assessing the complaints against our broadcasting rules, but are yet to decide whether or not to investigate.'
Social media users took note of BGT's use of the Elton John classic, with one viewer writing: 'Loving Britain's Got Talent's support of Ashley Banjo. Absolutely the best.'
Another said: 'Ashley Banjo - so pleased to see him on BGT again, still smiling'
'Ashley Banjo still standing. Love it!' added a third.
Others commented on hosts Ant and Dec's monologue about the dancer's achievements at the beginning of the show. One Twitter user wrote: 'The boys bigging up @AshleyBanjo at the very start of the show speaks volumes, bloody brilliant, that was to all the haters.'
However, some critics asked why Banjo hadn't apologised for the routine which polarised viewers last Saturday.
'Not even an apology from Banjo for last week's fiasco of a "dance" routine which promoted a false impression of all police as racists,' one user said. 'Not setting a good example to young people... not a very positive message.'
Defiant: After making his way on stage Ashley happily told co-hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly that he 'loved' both performing and judging on the show last week
Social media users were divided tonight as they reacted to Ashley Banjo's return to the Britain's Got Talent judge's chair
The flood of Ofcom complaints come after reports judges David Walliams and Alesha Dixon had a war of words after the singer told him his Little Britain antics were 'inappropriate'.
The TV star, 41, is believed to have made the comments in jest, however according to the Sun David, 49, was upset and left the studio as soon as filming was over.
David's old Little Britain characters included black woman Desiree DeVere and bearded transvestite Emily Howard.
The spat allegedly began during the deliberation stages of the show, and a source revealed: 'When the artist who Alesha had backed got through she basically turned to David and said, 'Well that's payback for all your inappropriate Little Britain antics.'
'It was quite catty, although Alesha later insisted she was only joking. But David was stunned. Obviously he is not racist or homophobic, or anything-phobic in the slightest — he was upset.
'Words were exchanged, and the rest of filming was pretty awkward.'
Awks! The OfCom complaints come after reports judges David Walliams and Alesha Dixon had a war of words after the singer told him his Little Britain antics were 'inappropriate'
Despite the awkward exchange it has been claimed that neither party has held a grudge and they remain pals.
An insider revealed that Alesha has insisted that her comments to David were only made as a joke.
MailOnline contacted representatives for David, Alesha and BGT at the time.
In June, David Walliams and his Little Britain co-star Matt Lucas apologised for their use of blackface after the series was removed from streaming services.
In a joint statement the pair insisted it was 'wrong' to portray characters of other races, but reiterated it's something they have apologised for in the past.
Claims: The TV star is believed to have made the comments in jest, however according to the Sun David, 49, was upset and left the studio as soon as filming was over
This comes after Alesha told critics to 'kiss my black a**' as she threw her support behind her Britain's Got Talent co-judge Ashley in the wake of the controversy surrounding the performance.
The singer waded into the ongoing row about the politicisation of the ITV1 talent series as Banjo shared a post on Instagram from a critic telling him to keep politics out of entertainment.
Alesha commented 'they can kiss my black a**' under an Instagram post from a disgruntled social media user, who said: 'We the Great British Public will only support you if you entertain us and do not say anything about racism.'
Divisive: Diversity's routine, which narrated the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in May, had already polarised fans of the talent show on Saturday night due to its political stance
The comment referred to the BLM-inspired dance which has sparked more than 15,000 complaints to media watchdog Ofcom when it was performed on Britain's Got Talent on Saturday night.
Critics claimed the dance, which was a 'take on the unprecedented events of 2020', had politicised the entertainment show, with one Twitter user insisting 'they are a dance group not a political movement.'
The full post - which also referred to boxer Anthony Joshua and F1 champion Lewis Hamilton - read: 'Dear Joshua, Hamilton, Banjo and any other black public figures.
New figures: An Ofcom spokesperson confirmed to MailOnline on Friday afternoon that Britain's Got Talent has received 15,500 complaints so far. On Monday the figure stood at 1,121
'We the Great British Public will only support you if you entertain us and do not say anything about racism. Thank you for your understanding.'
Ashley shared a screenshot of a message written by a critic to his Instagram, and said in the caption: '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.'
Alesha wasn't the only celebrity to throw her support behind Ashley, as fellow Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden commented with a heart emoji.
JLS star Aston Merrygold added: 'It's like that yeah! Guess it's time to speak louder for the people that can't quite hear!'
Supportive: The new figure comes after Alesha Dixon told critics to 'kiss my black a**' as she threw her support behind her Britain's Got Talent co-judge Ashley
Support: The singer, 41, waded into the ongoing row as Banjo, 31, shared a post on Instagram from a critic telling him to keep politics out of entertainment
Ashley's wife Francesca took to social media to share her own thoughts on the negative reaction from some viewers, saying 'shying away from issues' is not the answer.
Sharing clips from the performance, she wrote; 'On Saturday @ashleybanjogram and @diversityofficial performed this routine on @bgt, 11 years after winning the show. To call this a ‘dance routine’ is an understatement to say the least.
'This piece was a take on the unprecedented events of 2020, from Covid 19 to BLM, from clapping for carers as a nation to coming together in our own families and finding the light in the darkest of times.
'Some may find this uncomfortable, may feel it inappropriate, but shying away from issues is not going to bring about the change that is so long overdue.'
Francesca went on: 'Watching this I could not be prouder of my husband.
Calling it out: Ashley posted a comment from one troll who referred to him, Anthony Joshua and Lewis Hamilton, and said they shouldn't 'say anything about racism'
Response: Ashley wrote back, '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'
Encouragement: Alesha wasn't the only celebrity to throw her support behind Ashley, as Amanda Holden, Ashley's brother Jordan, Judi Love, and Aston Merrygold also commented
'Rose and Micah will watch this and when they are old enough to understand they will be proud that their Dad created something so poignant and used his voice to stand up for what is right. We are one race, the human race.'
On Thursday, Diversity's performance became the second most complained about TV moment of the past 10 years.
Ofcom complaints reached over 10,000 knocking the Kim Woodburn/Coleen Nolan argument -