ASHLEY Banjo has revealed he’s received nasty threats over Diversity’s controversial Black Lives Matter routine in a new video to fans.
The Britain’s Got Talent stand-in judge described the 15,500 complaints to broadcasting regulator Ofcom as the minority, and told how he’s had many more messages of support.
During the eloquent seven minute video, Ashley said, as an artist and performer, it was the “biggest gift ever” to return to the stage that made him famous and shine a light on important issues.
Sitting in a T-shirt and cap, the relaxed star said: “Trust me, I’m right in the centre of it, and the negativity is the minority. The positive response has been huge.
“So thank you so much to everyone who has supported, shown love and stood by what we did.
“We’re feeling positive, proud, happy, confident and we stand by every single decision that we made with 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 we believe in, using our art to speak a nationwide conversation.
“What more could I ask for as a creative, as an artist? To entertain, to get people talking, to cause emotion, that is everything I could ask for. It feels like the biggest gift ever. So I’m proud and I stand by it. Thank you to everyone who has shown positivity.”
Ashley then addressed the negativity, revealing he’s received threats and racial abuse.
However, he refused to give oxygen to the disgusting comments, simply saying: “A lot of the comments showed just why this performance was needed.
“Racism is very real. I knew it before, and I definitely know it now. After this performance, everything that we’ve received it’s been overwhelming in a negative sense sometimes. It’s been tough.”
“I’m feeling so happy that we opened it up and if that’s what it takes it’s a price I’m willing to pay.”
Ashley’s overall aim was to provide a message of hope after an extraordinary year.
And he is adamant BGT was the perfect platform to make a statement that referenced the lockdown, coronavirus, NHS heroes and police brutality.
He continued: “It’s a year that will go down in history for positive and negative reasons. That’s exactly why the question of whether Britain’s Got Talent was the right platform is one I can’t get on board with.
“If an artists can’t use real world issues to inspire their art what’s the point? Britain’s Got Talent has been the stage for so many incredible performances to express so many different kinds of stories.”
And separating his support of the term Black Lives Matter from the Black Lives Matter political group, he said: “Black Lives Matter, long before it was anything political, was a statement. Black Lives Matter is a fact. It is and always will be a fact, that’s what I stand by and what every single one of my team proudly stands by.”
He concluded by sending love to everyone, regardless of whether they supported or disliked the routine.
The number of complaints soared over the week after Ashley led the dance troupe for the raw performance.
It saw Ashley lay on the floor as a white police officer knelt on him in a reference to the death of George Floyd in the US.
There were also backing dancers performing dressed in riot gear and the group took the knee during the performance.
Diversity’s powerful performance is now the second most complained about TV moment in a decade.
The first is Roxanne Pallett’s Celebrity Big Brother ‘punchgate’ drama with former Corrie star Ryan Thomas with 25,327 complaints and Kim Woodburn’s interview on Loose Women comes third with 7,912 complaints.
Ashley previously revealed that he had received a barrage of abuse over the performance.
But the show’s stand-in judge thanked his critics for proving that it was a necessary performance.
Taking to Twitter, he wrote: “So much to say… But I’ll Just let the performance talk. Thousands of messages of Love and support – Thank you.
“For the thousands of messages of hate and ignorance – Thank you. You highlight exactly what needs to change. Sending nothing but love to you all.”
Some BGT viewers said the “powerful” performance had moved them to tears while others insisted a “political statement” had no place on the talent show.
One wrote: “Powerful and poignant and thought provoking. What you all did was OUTSTANDING.”
Another tweeted: “Just amazing powerful performance! Moved me to tears. You guys are just THE BEST!!!”
A third posted: “Keep doing the right thing. This piece was SO powerful.”
Diversity performed their spectacular trademark spinning dance moves in front of backing dancers dressed as riot police with shields.
Ashley’s brother Jordan fought back tears over the “horrible” complaints, speaking on his Kiss Radio show he said it was “genuinely sad”.
Jordan, 27, said: “Of course you get some critiques but normally it’s focused on the dance.
“But this one was different, it was really important, it was special to us.
“We are all about positivity and love and we got so much positivity and love back from this one.
“But we also got bombarded with messages and articles of horrible stuff about us, about our families, about how even now Diversity not diverse enough because there’s only five white people in it.”
Getting emotional, he added added: “I can’t speak for anyone else it’s sad, it’s sad, genuinely.”
Meanwhile, Perri hit back at one critic telling them to “get in the bin”.
Ashley, who was a judge at the weekend in place of the injured Simon Cowell, opened the performance by reciting a viral poem The Great Realisation by the singer Tomfoolery, which is about the BLM movement and police brutality.
The performance also addressed the coronavirus, capitalism, and the growth of delivery services like Amazon.
It was branded “powerful” by host Dec Donnelly moments after it ended.
After the performance, Ashley said: “This performance is extremely special to me and the rest of Diversity.
“2020 has been an incredible moment in history for both positive and negative reasons.
“We wanted to use the platform we’ve been given to make our voices heard, express how the events of this year have made us feel and think about how we might look back on them in the future… We call it hindsight 2020.”