British television network ITV has been flooded with tens of thousands of complaints after Britain’s Got Talent’s former winners performed a routine inspired by the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Variety reports the channel has received over 21,000 complaints since the routine was broadcast on September 5th, where the dance troupe Diversity performed a Black Lives Matter-inspired routine.
Part of the routine involved group member Ashley Banjo lying on the floor while a fellow dancer dressed in police gear handcuffed him, with the performance billed by the talent show as “a performance that will be talked about for years to come.”
Banjo, who is also serving as a temporary judge in the absence of Simon Cowell, claimed the routine had seen him subjected to “everything from racial abuse to threats to just some really nasty stuff that I’m not going to give any more time than it deserves.”
“A lot of the negativity, the nastiness and the racism shows exactly why this performance was needed and why this conversation that is now risen is necessary,” he said in the video on Instagram. “Racism is very real. I knew it before and I definitely know it now.”
Meanwhile, fellow judge Alesha Dixon has denied rumors she was considering quitting the show if producers apologized, but reiterated her support for the controversial routine.
“For the record I never threatened to quit BGT, I’ve had no conversations with ITV regarding this matter,” she tweeted. “I do however stand by and support AshleyBanjo and Diversity. #IamNotYourMediaPuppet.”
For the record I never threatened to quit BGT, I’ve had no conversations with ITV regarding this matter and Katie Hind made up this story, I do however stand by and support @AshleyBanjo and Diversity. #IamNotYourMediaPuppet
— Alesha Dixon (@AleshaOfficial) September 13, 2020
In 2018, Dixon also raised eyebrows after calling for a total ban on the production and consumption of meat and tobacco. “I would make smoking illegal and I would ban the slaughter of animals for food or anything… make it illegal to smoke or eat meat,” she wrote at the time.