The performance, which won the public-voted must-see-moment award, was inspired by the events of 2020 and included references to the killing of George Floyd and the global protests in support of Black Lives Matter that followed.
More than 24,000 complaints were made to Ofcom following the show, but the TV watchdog dismissed the complaints, concluding that the routine’s “central message was a call for social cohesion and unity”.
Ashley and his brother Jordan covered their faces in their hands as it was announced the dance troupe had won.
Ashley said: “This is mad, this is so much more than just an award.
“I want to just say first thank you to every single person who voted for us, it means so much.
“Thank you to everyone who stood by us. Every phone call, text, comment, DM, you guys made the difference to what was a really dark time, being in the storm of 30,000 complaints and just a torrent of racially charged abuse, threats, all of it, it was a dark time and that support made all the difference.
“In a way, I have to say thank you to the people that complained, the people that did all of that abuse because you showed the truth.
“You showed exactly why this performance, this moment, was necessary.
“But for all of those people, just take a look, because as much as there are so many conversations and so much that needs to change, this is what change looks like. And I’m so proud to be standing here and so thankful to all of those people.”
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He continued: “And for me, this is about not representing the minority.
“It felt like we weren’t at the time, but standing here right now, this represents the majority.
“So thank you all so much.
“Let’s keep having those difficult conversations, let’s keep standing up for what’s right regardless of the colour of our skin and we will achieve that equality.”
Michaela Coel’s powerful drama about consent, I May Destroy You, won the best mini-series and Michaela also took home the best leading actress prizes.
The awards were handed out at Television Centre in west London in front of a live but socially distanced audience of nominees.