Ofcom has announced that it will not be investigating Britain's Got Talent of any breach of broadcasting rules, after 24,500 people complained about Diversity's Black Lives Matter-inspired performance on the ITV talent show.
The dance troupe, a previous winner of the contest, gave a special performance on the programme on Saturday 5 September. The routine had a narrative where a father retrospectively tells his young son about the events of 2020.
The performance saw group leader Ashley Banjo pinned down by a police officer, with the group going on to take the knee on the words: “Black Lives Matter.”
The TV watchdog said these complaints were based on the notion that the “themes of violence and racism were inappropriate for family viewing”, “that it expressed support for the political organisation Black Lives Matter” and that it was “racist towards white people”.
Ofcom dismissed all of the complaints in an eight-page ruling and said the dance’s central message “was a call for social cohesion and unity”.
In a statement Ofcom said: “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.”
Just 4% of the 24,500 complaints were made in the immediate aftermath of the programme being aired, suggesting these were people who were offended by the original broadcast after watching it live.
ITV previously stood behind the performance in a statement, stating that Britain’s Got Talent “showcases diversity and supports strong storytelling in all forms”, calling the routine “an authentic, heartfelt response to many of the issues and events which have affected society in 2020”.
“Ashley and the group are a great example of the talent, creativity and diversity of modern Britain and their performance was an authentic, heartfelt response to many of the issues and events which have affected society in 2020.”
Banjo, who is standing in on the show for Simon Cowell, who is recovering after an accident on his electric bike, responded to the news on Instagram: “Creativity is always a leap of faith. All I did was what felt right and I’d do it 100 times over … Sending love to everyone that stood by us.”
Since the performance,Banjo has posted shocking examples of the racist comments that he and his fellow performers have received on social media since it aired.