Ashley Banjo signs up for BBC’s Christmas programming

Diversity star Ashley Banjo will form part of the BBC’s religious programming this festive period, as the narrator of On Christmas Night.

The dancer will tell “the story of the first Christmas from Luke’s Gospel, when angels appeared to shepherds to proclaim the news of Jesus’s birth,” the broadcaster said.

On Christmas Night will also feature a musical performance to close Christmas Day.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will deliver a New Year message
The Archbishop of Canterbury will deliver a New Year message

Other religious content includes the Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year Message which will be delivered from the chapel at St Thomas’ Hospital, London.

Justin Welby will speak “about the challenges of 2020 and where he finds hope for the year ahead,” the broadcaster said.

He will also reflect on “his experience volunteering as a hospital chaplain during the pandemic and what it has taught him about the of community and caring for each other.”

The BBC said its festive programming looked to “recognise and reflect on the challenges of the year we have had as well as providing live worship, traditional carols and musical celebration over the festive season.”

Coverage of a special Evensong will take place from St Paul’s Cathedral.

There will be live services, featuring socially distanced performers, for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day on BBC One as well as Carols From King’s on BBC Two.

BBC chief content officer Charlotte Moore said she hoped the programming would help “bring people together”.

“This year has been a particularly difficult one for many of us and it’s crucial that the BBC helps to bring people together and connect audiences across the UK to mark this special time of year,” she said.

“I hope our religious content this Christmas will give audiences an opportunity to reflect on the year that has gone as well as inspiring and uplifting them with a wonderful mix of traditional carols, festive music, spiritual contemplation and live music across television and radio.”

Banjo made headlines earlier this year after Diversity’s performance on Britain’s Got Talent which aired in September. Their routine, which featured a white performer kneeling on Banjo’s neck, sparked over 24,000 complaints to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

Critics complained that the routine – a reference to the death of George Floyd – was too politicised. However, Ofcom dismissed the complaints, concluding that the routine’s “central message was a call for social cohesion and unity”.