Ashley Banjo has hailed Diversity’s Bafta nomination at the forthcoming TV awards as “incredible”.
The troupe have been nominated for their talked-about performance on Britain’s Got Talent last year, which saw a man in a police uniform kneel on Banjo, echoing the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd, while other dancers carried riot shields.
The Black Lives Matter-inspired routine is among six nominees for the Virgin Media’s Must-See Moment Award at the television Baftas, which is voted for by the public.
Talking about being contacted by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after the performance, Banjo told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I think it’s more significant because of how many parallels that we drew in the conversation.
“You know, they really have been through a lot. And I didn’t realise, until after I saw their interview (with Oprah Winfrey), quite how much. But, yeah, we had a great chat about it. And I was just super-grateful for them in that moment giving me a call.”
Harry and Meghan made a series of allegations about the royal family when they were interviewed by Winfrey earlier this year.
The couple accused an unnamed royal, not the Queen or the Duke of Edinburgh, of raising concerns before their son Archie was born about how dark his skin tone might be.
Diversity’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent sparked more than 24,000 complaints to Ofcom.
But the TV watchdog dismissed the complaints, concluding that the routine’s “central message was a call for social cohesion and unity”.
Broadcaster ITV stood by the airing of the routine and backed the dance troupe, saying: “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.”
Asked by GMB guest presenter Alastair Campbell why he thought the routine had sparked such controversy, Banjo said: “I think because it’s raw and it’s real. And I think that it was unexpected, you know, there are a lot of people actually, a lot of people I disagree with are correct.
“The fact that it was, I suppose, it was unexpected for it to be in a family entertainment show, and at that time on ITV, but I think where I disagree with those people is the fact that it was the wrong platform.
“Just because it was unexpected doesn’t mean that it was wrong. So I think that it was just somewhere that a lot of people felt uncomfortable being faced with the truth.”
Also nominated for the Virgin Must-See moment are Penelope being revealed as the mysterious Lady Whistledown in Netflix’s raunchy period drama Bridgerton, abusive husband Gray Atkins killing Chantelle in BBC One’s EastEnders, and Luke Skywalker appearing in The Mandalorian on Disney+.
Nigella Lawson’s mispronunciation of the word microwave as “mee-cro-wah-vay” also features, after the scene from her BBC Two programme Cook, Eat, Repeat became a viral hit on social media.
Gogglebox on Channel 4 is nominated for scenes showing its armchair critics responding to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s coronavirus press conferences.
– The TV Baftas will be broadcast as-live on BBC One on the evening of Sunday June 6.