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Diversity’s Ashley Banjo says becoming Britain’s Got Talent judge was ‘emotional’ after finding fame on the show

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Ashley Banjo has opened up on the reaction to Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired performance as well as how emotional it was to become a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, the show that made the dance troupe famous. 

The 32-year-old dancer appeared on The One Show via video link to discuss how he stepped into Simon Cowell’s shoes for this year’s BGT. 

After Simon suffered a back injury falling off his electric bike at his home, Ashley was drafted in to take his place on the panel this year. 

He told Alex Jones: ‘It feels really good actually, it was a bit of an emotional moment because it’s so full-circle. 

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‘It’s obviously the show that started Diversity’s career in the limelight and to be back, over a decade on, and sitting in that chair, it was just really symbolic.’

He and Diversity returned to the Britain’s Got Talent stage to perform a routine at the first semi-final, depicting events of the past few months, including a segment inspired by Black Lives Matter. 

Diversity talking about BLM routine on BGT and taking Simon Cowell's judging seat
Ashley was emotional to take Simon Cowell’s place on Britain’s Got Talent (Picture: BBC The One Show)

The routine sparked over 24,500 complaints from viewers, making BGT the most complained-about TV show in a decade, but Ashley says the group were proud to tackle the powerful topics through dance. 

He explained: ‘Obviously to go out in the first semi-final and do that routine which caused such a stir, it just felt like a really important moment for us and something that we are all super proud of.’

Perri Kiely, 24, added: ‘We expected a little bit of reaction but that was a bit crazy, wasn’t it?’

No book publishing Mandatory Credit: Photo by Dymond/Thames/Syco/REX (10766614n) Diversity 'Britain's Got Talent' TV Show, Series 14, Episode 10, Semi Final 1, UK - 05 Sep 2020
The group’s powerful performance sparked a lot of reaction (Picture: Dymond/Thames/Syco/REX)

Ofcom released a statement to say they would not be investigating it, saying: ‘We carefully considered a large number of complaints about this artistic routine, an area where freedom of expression is particularly important.

‘Diversity’s performance referred to challenging and potentially controversial subjects, and in our view, its central message was a call for social cohesion and unity. 

‘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 One Show airs weekdays on BBC One from 7pm. 

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MORE: Britain’s Got Talent’s Nabil Abdulrashid and Ashley Banjo joke about Ofcom complaints in 2020 final

MORE: Ashley Banjo wasn’t ready for Britain’s Got Talent backlash after Diversity’s Black Lives Matter routine

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