Ashley Banjo hopes Diversity’s BLM routine was part of reason behind his MBE

Ashley Banjo has said he hopes Diversity’s Black Lives Matter-inspired routine was part of why he was made an MBE.

The 33-year-old dancer and choreographer, who found fame in 2009 as part of Britain’s Got Talent winners Diversity, was named in the New Year Honours for services to dance.

In September 2020, his troupe delivered a headline-grabbing routine on the ITV show, in which a man dressed in police uniform knelt on Banjo, echoing the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd in the US.

Banjo hailed the power of dance and said he felt “really proud” of the routine.

Appearing on The One Show, he said: “I was so proud to get it for services to dance. It is what I have dedicated my life to, it is what I love to do.

“I think the routine we did did have something to do with it, because at the end of the day it was using dance like we always have done, to not just tell a narrative but to put a message across – to educate, to inspire.

“So that is something that is really important to me. Dance isn’t just for entertainment. It isn’t just for backing recording artists.

“It can be used for anything. It is a form of communication, it is a form of art. I hope it had something to do with it because I am really proud of that dance.”

Bafta awards
Ashley Banjo, right, and his brother Jordan with the TV Bafta for Must-See Moment (David Fisher/Bafta/PA)

Banjo also said he planned to take his mother, who has managed Diversity for much of their time together, with him to the investiture.

He said: “I haven’t even approached this conversation. I am kind of dodging it. But I think my mum.

“She still manages Diversity. She is still so involved. I feel like we have got here together. This is hers as well when I think about it. So probably my mum.”

Diversity’s routine sparked more than 24,000 complaints to Ofcom, but the TV watchdog dismissed them, concluding the routine’s “central message was a call for social cohesion and unity”.

The performance was later given the Must-See Moment Award at the 2021 TV Baftas.