Diversity star Ashley Banjo has praised the “overwhelming support” the dance group received as they were named the winners of the only award voted for by the public at the Bafta TV awards.

The troupe won Virgin Media’s Must-See Moment Award for their talked-about performance on ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent last year, for a routine 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.

This year’s Bafta TV Awards were held at Television Centre in west London in front of a small, socially distanced audience of nominees, with the event hosted by Richard Ayoade.

Jordan (left) and Ashley Banjo arrive for the Virgin Media BAFTA TV awards
Jordan (left) and Ashley Banjo arrive for the Virgin Media BAFTA TV awards (Ian West/PA)

Speaking after the win, Ashley said the award had extra significance because it was a public vote.

He said: “It would have been great to win a Bafta but this isn’t about an award to me, this is about a public vote.

“This is a chance for the public to speak up and in a way it’s almost like was it right or not, did they support it or not.

“It would never have been as simple as if we didn’t win they didn’t, because I know that’s not true. The support was overwhelming.

“But to have won it, to have won a Bafta for a performance just shows me that the British public are incredible and they support it and support us and we really, really did the right thing and stuck by it.

“It’s incredible, it’s a Bafta, it’s kind of validation, it’s support from the public, it’s everything wrapped up into one, so a lot of feels tonight.”

He added: “We’ve got a platform and we have got a talent and we have got an ability to create things that connect with people.

“So in a way, I feel like it’s only natural for us to create pieces of art and pieces of dance that talk about issues and connect with people and stuff that connects with them.”

He later wrote on Instagram: “WE DID IT!!!! Proud and overwhelmed would be an understatement.

“Thank you so much to everyone that supported us and continues to do so. This is such a special moment.

“So much hate, so much negativity and still so much that needs to change. But also so much love, so much support and so many important conversations. Here now after all of it… We’re BAFTA award winners!!”

The performance on September 5 last year 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”.

Ashley collected the gong alongside his younger brother Jordan, who said afterwards that he had never seen Ashley as nervous ahead of the awards.

Jordan said: “I was looking like, ‘Are you alright?’ I’ve never seen him like that, so nervous.

“Literally I’ve never seen it and that’s why I’m happy we did win, just because one, I know how much it meant to you.

“But the fact if it makes you feel like that, I know how much it means to everyone who voted for us as well. It obviously means a lot to them.”

Diversity won Britain’s Got Talent in 2009.

Other winners at the awards included I May Destroy You, which won the best miniseries TV Bafta and also saw the show’s creator, Michaela Coel, win the leading actress gong.