Diversity BLM dance: what was the controversial routine on Britain’s Got Talent - and why is it up for a BAFTA?

The controversial performance took place at the Britain’s Got Talent semi-final in September 2020 and received over 20,500 complaints

Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 12:31 pm
Diversity's Ashley Banjo defended the performance, which some considered inappropriate and 'too political' for a family show (Picture: Getty Images)

The 2021 BAFTAs will be held on 6 June, acknowledging contributions to television throughout 2020.

The nominations for the Virgin Media Must-See Moment Award have now been announced and Diversity’s controversial Black Lives Matter routine is among the six entries.

The dance was a representation of the killing of George Floyd and the performance included choreographer and dancer Ashley Banjo being knelt on by a dancer dressed as a police officer - a reference to Floyd’s murder.The routine led to over 20,500 Ofcom complaints after the show aired, so why has it been nominated for an award, what other entries is it up against - and how do viewers vote? when

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What happened during the controversial dance routine?

Diversity’s performance took place at the semi-finals of Britain’s Got Talent, on 5 September 2020.

At the time, Banjo had replaced Simon Cowell on the show as a judge while Cowell recovered from a back injury.

The dance referenced events that have taken place around the world following the death of George Floyd, who was killed in May last year by police officer Derek Chauvin.

Members of the dance troupe mimicked the incident during which Floyd was asphyxiated as Chauvin knelt on his neck and chest.

In the routine, Banjo lay down on the stage while a performer dressed as a police officer knelt on his back. The words “I can’t breathe” formed part of the backing track, referencing words spoken by Floyd.

Elements of the Black Lives Matter protests, which took place around the world following Floyd’s death, were also incorporated into the dance routine.

Throughout the performance, dancers carried riot shields and viewers also watched as the troupe took the knee.

How did viewers react to the performance?

In the month which followed the routine, complaints flooded in from viewers who claimed the performance was “too political” and inappropriate for a family show.

Ofcom received more than 20,500 complaints about the segment of BGT, but said the programme had not broken broadcasting guidelines.

Despite the complaints, Ofcom confirmed it would not be investigating the show as it felt the main message of the routine was “a call for social cohesion and unity”.

Some complaints suggested that the performance was using the show as a platform to highlight the political issues.

Other viewers went further, suggesting it was racist towards white people, too critical of white police officers and was endorsing a political movement, among other complaints.

Social media was also awash with people sharing their views of the show, with some saying they would not be watching BGT again as it had not reflected the suitability of a family show.

How did Diversity respond to the complaints?

As the troupe’s leader and main choreographer, Banjo responded to the complaints by saying he stood by the performance, saying those who took issue with its subject matter “highlight exactly what needs to change”.

He added that Diversity "wanted to express how the events of this year have made us feel".

Which other moments have made the BAFTA shortlist?

Alongside the Diversity performance, Netflix’s record-breaking period drama Bridgerton has made the shortlist for the Must-See Moment Award, with its scene of Lady Whistledown being revealed.

In the scenes leading to the revelation, Lady Whistledown is seen disappearing in her carriage, before she removes her hood to show her face.

Penelope Featherington is revealed as Lady Whistledown in the Bridgerton season one finale, with a second and third season now commissioned by Netflix.

Eastenders has also made the list of nominations, for the scene in which Gray kills Chantelle.

The storyline covers issues of physical and psychological abuse, as Gray had tormented his wife Chantelle for years before her death.

In a true reflection of the past year, Gogglebox’s reactions to Boris Johnson's news conference on Covid tiers has also been nominated. The episode included the Gogglebox participants attempting to make sense of the rules regarding what constitutes a meal in a pub.

Nigella Lawson could also claim a BAFTA after her award-worthy pronunciation of ‘microwave’. On her BBC cooking show ‘Nigella: Cook, Eat, Repeat’ she named the appliance, with the unusual pronunciation “Mee-cro-wah-vay”.

Last but not least, Disney’s Mandalorian has also been nominated for the scene when Luke Skywalker appears. In December 2020, 'The Mandalorian' became the most watched streaming series in the US.

How will the winner be chosen?

The Must-See Moment Award is the only award of the ceremony to be determined by the public.

Viewers have until 17:00 BST on 24 May to vote for the winner, which will be announced at the 6 June ceremony.

The evening of awards will be hosted by comedian Richard Ayoade for a second year and will be one of the first award ceremonies to return as an in-person event, as opposed to virtually attended.