ITV has issued a statement defending the Britain's Got Talent performance from dance troupe Diversity which attracted over 20,000 Ofcom complaints.

The routine, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, became one of the most complained about TV moments in the last decade.

Now, ITV has praised the "authentic" and "heartfelt" performance given by Diversity on last week's episode of Britain's Got Talent.

A statement read: "Britain's Got Talent has always been an inclusive show, which showcases diversity and supports strong storytelling in all forms and ITV stands behind the decision to broadcast Diversity's performance on BGT.

"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."

One of the routine's more shocking moments featured BGT judge Ashley Banjo being knelt on by a police officer, as the troupe told the story of George Floyd's death. 

Other dancers were dressed in riot gear and the group took a knee at the end of the performance.

Media watchdog Ofcom said "almost all" of the complaints received were reactions to Diversity's performance. 

The performance was widely praised on social media during the show on September 5 but there has since been 23,308 complaints to broadcasting watchdog Ofcom.

A spokeswoman for Ofcom said: “We are assessing these complaints against our broadcasting rules, before deciding whether or not to investigate.”

Banjo has said the group has been overwhelmed by the positive reaction to the performance and has received “hundreds of thousands of messages, comments, DMs, and just interactions in the street”.

In a video message on Instagram, Banjo said that while “the headlines have been about the complaints and the negativity… the negativity is the minority.

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

And he added: “We’re feeling positive, proud, happy, confident.

“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.”