Ofcom has rejected thousands of complaints about Croydon comedian Nabil Abdulrashid and his routine in the final of Britain’s Got Talent earlier this month.
In the televised final, Abdulrashid placed just outside the top three acts, with 13.9 per cent of the vote from millions of viewers.
Abdulrashid’s act draws much of his material from his experiences as a black Muslim living at the time of the Black Lives Matter movement. After going through from the auditions as a “golden buzzer” performer, the programme’s producers received around a thousand formal complaints after his semi-final success.
In the final, Abdulrashid’s began his performance with a pretend press conference, with the comedian fielding questions from journalists (played by Abdulrashid).
The backlash to his semi-final act, he said, proved climate change was real. “How else do you explain so many snowflakes in October?”
Earlier in the series, Britain’s Got Talent had attracted similar complaints to Ofcom over a Black Lives Matter dance routine by past winners Diversity, including Ashley Banjo, one of this year’s judges on the show. A BLM necklace worn in one episode by another judge, Alesha Dixon, was also seen by some as a cause to complain. Ofcom rejected those complaints, too.
In the final, Abdulrashid joked that racists had written hundreds of letters to Ofcom, but he was just surprised they could write.
Critics praised his performance, and compared the act focused around race and religion with the kind of material which the late Dave Allen used to deliver in his widely popular TV shows.
Ofcom said it received 3,000 complaints about Abdulrashid’s BGT performances, two-thirds of them coming after the final, but that it took freedom of expression into account when deciding not to launch an investigation.
“The comedian’s satirical take on his life experiences as a black Muslim was likely to have been within audience expectations,” a spokesperson said.
“We just tell jokes about our lives because they matter – right?” Abdulrashid said when on stage.
“They complained because we said black lives matter – thousands of complaints,” he said. “To be honest I’m shocked that many of them know how to write.
“They sent in thousands of angry letters. Hopefully, if I annoy them today, they can progress on to words.”
In another line from his act, Abdulrashid said that Winston Churchill was black. “When was the last time you met a white man called Winston?”
And Abdulrashid said that broadcasters ITV should have had a different response to the 24,500 people who complained about Diversity’s dance performance in September.
“I would have sent an email to everyone who complained. It would just say: ‘We understand you viewers are offended. But all viewers matter.’ Let’s see how they like it then.”
And back home in Croydon, after being told of the volume of complaints his act had generated, Abdulrashid tweeted: “I’m just happy I’ve kept workers at Ofcom from being made redundant. I’m a hero and should be appreciated for my contribution to the economy. @Ofcom you’re welcome.”
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