Ofcom complaints following Diversity's BLM performance on BGT soar to 21,673

Ofcom complaints following Diversity's Black Lives Matter-inspired performance on Britain't Got Talent last weekend soared to a record 21,673 on Monday.

New BGT judge Ashley Banjo and his dance troupe sparked controversy with their performance, which featured the portrayal of a policeman kneeling on Banjo's neck.

And the flood of complaints puts the controversial routine just steps behind Celebrity Big Brother's 'punchgate' which received 25,237 objections in 2018, after Roxanne Pallett falsely accused Ryan Thomas of hitting her. 

Performance: The performance, which was shown on the ITV talent show last weekend, featured a portrayal of a policeman kneeling on Ashley Banjo's neck

Performance: The performance, which was shown on the ITV talent show last weekend, featured a portrayal of a policeman kneeling on Ashley Banjo's neck

An Ofcom spokesperson confirmed to MailOnline on Friday afternoon that BGT had received 15,500 complaints. 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.' 

Piers Morgan furiously spoke out in Diversity's defence on Monday morning, amid the fallout over the dance troupe's Black Lives Matter routine on Britain's Got Talent.

As Ofcom complaints soared to 15,500 following the performance, which featured a portrayal of a policeman kneeling on Ashley Banjo's neck, Piers reiterated his support for the routine as he hosted ITV's Good Morning Britain.

Former BGT judge Piers, 55, told viewers: 'If you can't handle that without feeling the need to never watch BGT again or to complain to Ofcom, there's something wrong with you. You, you're the problem! You're part of the problem.'

Defence: Piers Morgan furiously spoke out in Diversity's defence on Monday morning, amid the fallout over the dance troupe's Black Lives Matter routine on Britain's Got Talent

Defence: Piers Morgan furiously spoke out in Diversity's defence on Monday morning, amid the fallout over the dance troupe's Black Lives Matter routine on Britain's Got Talent

He added: 'By the way, if you don't like me saying this, then don't watch us either. Don't watch Good Morning Britain. Because I agree with Ashley Banjo and Diversity. And if you can't handle it Britain, wake up.'

Later in the show, Piers and co-host Susanna Reid spoke with BGT judge Amanda Holden about the controversy.

She said: 'It is extraordinary. I think the number of negative complaints means this conversation is right and fundamental and should continue to happen. 

'What hasn’t really been highlighted is the fact that we were inundated with overwhelming positive response, hundreds of thousands of them.

'As BGT family, and Diversity is very much part of that family, and Ashley is doing a phenomenal job on BGT, we stand by him and stand by that performance 100 per cent.'

The 49-year-old star added of Ashley Banjo: 'He sends out positive vibes to both the haters and the lovers of the piece that they did. He is saddened by negativity.'

It's not the first time Piers has spoken out in defence of both Ashley and his dance troupe, as he also expressed his feelings on the controversy on social media.

Speaking out: Sitting alongside co-host Susanna Reid, Piers told viewers, 'If you can't handle that without feeling the need to never watch BGT again... there's something wrong with you'

Speaking out: Sitting alongside co-host Susanna Reid, Piers told viewers, 'If you can't handle that without feeling the need to never watch BGT again... there's something wrong with you'

Taking to Twitter on Thursday to address the fallout, Piers wrote: 'I thought it was great. Ignore the haters, Ashley. Proud of you.'

Diversity's routine, which narrated the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in May, had already polarised fans of the talent show last Saturday night.

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.' 

Piers' defence came one day after Ashley broke his silence about Diversity's Black Lives Matter routine during the first semi-final last weekend.

Conversation: Later in the show, Piers and Susanna spoke with BGT judge Amanda Holden about the controversy as she promoted her new album

Conversation: Later in the show, Piers and Susanna spoke with BGT judge Amanda Holden about the controversy as she promoted her new album

The dancer, 31, took to Instagram to share a video on Sunday in which he addressed both the positive and negative response, as he revealed he and the group have been the target of 'racial abuse and threats' following the dance. 

In the statement, 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.'

Ashley originally began his video by thanking those who had supported Diversity and had shared positive messages and well wishes, even mentioning those who had checked in on the members mental well-being during the aftermath of the routine. 

Comments: She said of the complaints, 'It is extraordinary. I think the number of negative complaints means this conversation is right and fundamental and should continue to happen'

Positivity: The 49-year-old star added of Ashley Banjo: 'He sends out positive vibes to both the haters and the lovers of the piece that they did. He is saddened by negativity'

Comments: She said of the complaints, 'It is extraordinary. I think the number of negative complaints means this conversation is right and fundamental and should continue to happen'

Ashley said: 'Firstly 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.'  

Candid: Ashley Banjo revealed on Sunday he and Diversity have been the target of 'racial abuse and threats' following the group's BLM-inspired routine on Britain's Got Talent

Candid: Ashley Banjo revealed on Sunday he and Diversity have been the target of 'racial abuse and threats' following the group's BLM-inspired routine on Britain's Got Talent

He added: 'Everyone who reached out who checked if we were alright, thank you to you as well. 

'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.' 

Grateful: Ashley originally began his video by thanking those who had supported Diversity and had shared positive messages and well wishes

Grateful: Ashley originally began his video by thanking those who had supported Diversity and had shared positive messages and well wishes

Sharing his decision to remain positive in the face of racist , he went on: '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 then described the dance routine in full, stipulating that Diversity were giving a 'summary of 2020' with their performance tackling topics like lockdown, COVID-19, the NHS, 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,' he said of the dance. 

Shocking: The ITV show has been embroiled in controversy after Diversity took to the stage with a Black Lives Matter-inspired performance, sparking over 15,000 complaints

Shocking: The ITV show has been embroiled in controversy after Diversity took to the stage with a Black Lives Matter-inspired performance, sparking over 15,000 complaints

'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?

'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.'

Explaining that he wanted Diversity's dance to express the 'rollercoaster of emotions' that he and the group have experienced this year, he then addressed the portion of the dance dedicated to the Black

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