Diversity dance group 'proud' of ITV backing in newspaper ads

·2 min read

Ashley Banjo has said his dance group Diversity has “never been prouder” after ITV took out full-page newspaper adverts to show support for their controversial Black Lives Matter-inspired performance.

The dance group, a previous winner of Britain’s Got Talent, gave a special performance on the programme on Saturday 5 September, after which Ofcom eventually received about 24,500 complaints.

The routine, framed as a father retrospectively telling his young son about the events of 2020, included references to the coronavirus outbreak, police brutality against black people, and the death of George Floyd which prompted global Black Lives Matter protests.

ITV responded to criticism of the performance by taking out the full-page adverts in all national newspapers on Saturday, including the Guardian.

The advert features a photo from Diversity’s performance, which the broadcaster has captioned: “We are changed by what we see. Just as we are changed when we are seen.”

Towards the bottom of the image, a message reads: “ITV. Stand with Diversity.”

On Saturday, Banjo used a post on Instagram to thank “everyone that supported us”.

Alongside an image of himself kneeling, Banjo wrote: “This is what change looks like. ITV stand with Diversity and we’ve never been prouder.”

The routine featured a dancer playing a white police officer kneeling on Banjo, echoing the killing of Floyd, while other dancers performed with police riot shields. The dance troupe also took a knee in the routine, in protest against racism and police brutality.

Earlier this week, the broadcaster praised the dance troupe’s “authentic, heartfelt” performance and on Friday the media regulator said Britain’s Got Talent had not breached broadcasting rules.

Ofcom dismissed all of the complaints in an eight-page ruling that said the dance’s central message “was a call for social cohesion and unity”.

It concluded that “freedom of expression is particularly important in the context of artistic works” and said the subject matter was handled in a way that made it suitable for a family audience.

The Britain’s Got Talent judge Alesha Dixon said on Thursday that she became emotional during Diversity‘s performance.

She told the Daily Mirror that although the camera did not pan to the judges during the performance, she was in “floods of tears”.

“I had this overwhelming feeling of ‘Wow, I can’t believe I am watching this on BGT’. It felt really important.”

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