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Ashley Banjo

Ashley Banjo at the National Television Awards.jpg
Banjo interviewed by UK Gossip TV at the National Television Awards in 2020
Born
Ashley Modurotolu Banjo

(1988-10-04) 4 October 1988 (age 35)
Leytonstone, London, England
Occupation
  • Dancer
  • choreographer
  • actor
  • presenter
Years active 2009–present
Children 2
Relatives Jordan Banjo (brother)
Current group Diversity
Dances Street dance

Ashley Modurotolu Banjo MBE (born 4 October 1988) is an English street dancer, choreographer, actor and television presenter. He is the leader of dance troupe Diversity who won the third series of Britain's Got Talent in 2009. Banjo was a judge on the Sky1 talent show Got to Dance and co-presenter of the Saturday night BBC game show Can't Touch This. Since 2018, he has been a judge on Dancing on Ice.

Ashley replaced Simon Cowell, who was recovering from an electric motorcycle accident, as a judge on the ITV show Britain's Got Talent in September and October 2020 during the live-shows as well as during the 2020 Christmas special.

Early life and education

Son of former heavyweight boxer Funso Banjo and Danielle, Banjo was educated at the independent St John's School, Billericay, where he was Head Boy and still holds the high jump sports day record.

Diversity

In 2007, Ashley and his younger brother Jordan formed Swift Moves with nine of their friends, before later changing their name to Diversity. He was given the nickname "Chosen" by his fellow Diversity members. In their first year together, they won the Street Dance Weekend 2007 competition, before deciding to enter Britain's Got Talent.

Britain's Got Talent

After receiving "yes" votes from all three judges in their audition, Diversity went on to compete in the first semi-final on 24 May, losing the public vote-decided first place to Susan Boyle but winning the judges' vote against Natalie Okri. In the final six days later, Diversity were announced as the winners, beating Boyle and Julian Smith (who came second and third respectively). As winners of the competition, Diversity received £100,000 (around £9,090 per member) and went on to perform before Queen Elizabeth at the Royal Variety Show on 7 December 2009.

Post Britain's Got Talent

Subsequently, Diversity were nominated in the Dance section of the final South Bank Show awards and won an award at the Pride of Britain Awards

In 2013 Ashley choreographed a tour for Diversity called Limitless. The tour ran from 30 November to 16 December.

In 2021, Ashley partnered with detergent brand Persil and TV channel Sky Nature to make a series of short films highlighting environmental action.

In June 2023, he began playing the Tin Woodman in the West End revival of The Wizard of Oz.

Television work

Ashley was a judge on Sky1's dancing talent show Got to Dance for all five series. Diversity appeared as guest performers at least once every series. In total they did nine performances on the show. In 2015, he presented Perspectives: Michael Jackson's Thriller with Ashley Banjo.

In 2016, Banjo co-presented Can't Touch This, a Saturday night game show for BBC One, alongside Zoë Ball. In 2017, Banjo was a judge on the new ITV series Dance Dance Dance, presented by Alesha Dixon and Will Best.

Since January 2018, Banjo has been part of the judging panel on Dancing on Ice, starting with its tenth series in 2018.

In August 2020, it was announced that due to Simon Cowell's bike injury and recovery period, Banjo would replace Cowell for the live semi-final and final shows of the 14th series of Britain's Got Talent.

Filmography

Year Title Role
1996 Barrymore Himself
2009, 2016, 2020 Britain's Got Talent Himself (2009, 2016), Guest Judge (2020)
2010 StreetDance 3D Aaron
2010–2014 Got to Dance Himself as a judge
2011 The Real Hustle Himself
The Magicians Himself
The Apprentice Himself
Text Santa Himself
2012–2014 Ashley Banjo's Secret Street Crew Himself
2012 Celebrity Juice Himself
The Cube Himself, won £20,000 to split between NSPCC and Beatbullying
2013 Stella Himself, episode 2.7
Celebrity Juice Himself
Jordan and Perri's Ultimate Block Party Himself
2014 Ashley Banjo's Big Town Dance Himself
Stars at Your Service Himself
This Morning Himself
Release the Hounds: Jingle Hell Himself, team won £12,000 to split between NSPCC and Beatbullying
2015 Diversity Live Himself
You're Back in the Room Guest
Perspectives Michael Jackson's Thriller with Ashley Banjo Himself, presenter
2016 Can't Touch This Himself, co-presenter
2017 Diversity Presents Steal the Show Himself
Dance Dance Dance Himself as a judge
All Round to Mrs. Brown's Himself, guest
2017— The Real Full Monty Himself, co-presenter
2017, 2021— Pride of Britain Awards Himself, roving reporter (2017)

Co-host (2021—)

2017 Catchphrase: Celebrity Special Himself, contestant
A Night for the Emergency Services Himself, presenter
2018— Dancing on Ice Himself as a judge
2019— Flirty Dancing Himself, presenter
2020 On Christmas Night Himself, reader
2021 The Void Himself, presenter
Ashley Banjo: Britain in Black and White Himself, presenter
2022 Dance Monsters Himself, judge

Personal life

After winning Britain's Got Talent in 2009, Banjo took a break from his schooling to concentrate on his dancing. He said that "from the age of 14, I started to teach myself routines". Banjo was in a thirteen-year relationship with Francesca Abbott, who is a member of another dance troupe called Out of the Shadows. They announced their engagement on 2 October 2014. Ashley and Francesa have two children, Rose (born 2019) and Micah (born 2020). Ashley and Francesca announced on 23 December 2022 that they had separated 18 months earlier.

Ashley Banjo is an Official Ambassador of the United Dance Organisation.

Banjo was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2022 New Year Honours for services to dance.

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