DANCE group Diversity’s Black Lives Matter inspired dance routine on Britain’s Got Talent sparked more of a “positive than negative” response, Ashley Banjo insisted.

The 31-year-old street dancer and former pupil of St John’s School in Billericay is filling in for Simon Cowell as a judge and the group performed as the semi-finals kicked off last weekend.

The Britain’s Got Talent episode featuring the performance was the subject of more than 20,000 complaints to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

Mr Banjo said, in a video message on Instagram, that the group found the positive reaction overwhelming despite criticism.

“While the headlines have been about the complaints and the negativity ... the negativity is the minority,” he said.

“The positive response has been huge.

“So thank you so much to everyone who has supported, shown love, and stood by what we did.”

He added: “We’re feeling positive, happy... proud.

“We stand by every single decision we made with that performance.... I’m proud.”

The“negativity” included “racial abuse” and “threats”, he said, adding: “That reaction shows “exactly why this performance was needed... Racism is very real.

“I knew it before and I definitely know it now.”

He said the “performance was a round-up of an extraordinary year.

“Everything from lockdown to Covid-19, to the incredible NHS to the spotlight that’s been shone on racism. Everything that happened with George Floyd in America, the protests, the riots – ultimately culminating in the idea of unity, hope, finding a cure.

“It was something we wanted to bring to the stage to give people hope” but also not shy away from “difficult issues”, he said.

“Black Lives Matter. A lot of people were offended at the political nature of that statement but that’s never what we intended.

“Black lives mattered long before it was anything political. Black Lives Matter is a fact.”

Amanda Holden, who has been promoted to head judge while Cowell recovers from surgery after his electric bike accident, said the show stands by the star.

“The number of negative complaints means that this conversation is right and fundamental and should continue to happen,” she told Good Morning Britain.

“We were inundated with an overwhelming positive response. Diversity is very much part of the BGT family.

“Ashley is doing a phenomenal job on BGT. We just stand by him and stand by that performance 100 per cent.”

The routine led to the second highest number of complaints to Ofcom for a TV show since 2010.