'The Greatest Dancer's Jordan Banjo says he suffered racist abuse at school

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
Jordan Banjo (Credit: PA)
Jordan Banjo (Credit: PA)

Jordan Banjo, presenter of the BBC’s The Greatest Dancer, has said that he suffered ignorant racial abuse growing up in Essex.

26-year-old Banjo, Diversity dancer and brother of Dancing On Ice judge Ashley Banjo, said that it was due to a lack of ethnicity in the area.

“Our school was in a posh part of Essex, and there weren’t many other ethnicities there,” he told OK Magazine.

“It was pretty much just me, my brother and sister. My mum is white and my dad’s black, and some kids just couldn’t get their head around it.

Joining us from The Greatest Dancer are the brilliant Oti Mabuse, Matthew Morrison and Jordan Banjo. Tune in for all the backstage gossip and insider information from the competition.
Joining us from The Greatest Dancer are the brilliant Oti Mabuse, Matthew Morrison and Jordan Banjo. Tune in for all the backstage gossip and insider information from the competition.

“They’d say, ‘You’re not black, but you’re not white. You’re different’. They said I was like a ‘black p***’.

“I also got the other standard names black people get called. And if you pulled the kids up, they’d be horrified.”

Banjo adds that he took the abuse in his stride, and they were ‘just young kids who didn’t know better’.

He shot to fame as part of the street dance group Diversity, who won the third series of Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, beating Susan Boyle to the prize.

Speaking about The Greatest Dancer, which he co-hosts with Alesha Dixon, and judges Cheryl, Oti Mabuse and Matthew Morrison, he said: “Cheryl is the nicest – so sweet. She was asking me about my baby son and I felt like I was talking to a friend I’d had for years. Oti has been trying to teach me Latin and ballroom so many times, but I am awful – so bad.

“She is the strictest teacher ever. She does not mess around. If my elbows drop an inch, she is on me. After about 10 minutes, I feel I’ve been beaten up.

“Matthew can make you feel better about anything. You could have a winning lottery ticket in your pocket, then put it in the washing machine – he’d say, ‘That’s part of your journey’.”

The show returns to BBC One for its second live show this weekend.

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