The BAFTAs certainly got off to a memorable start on Sunday night, although perhaps not for the right reasons.

Oscar-winning actress Ariana DeBose ('West Side Story') took to the stage for a musical number that shone a spotlight on all the female talent in the room - although some viewers were more impressed by it than others.

DeBose performed a medley of 'Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves' and 'We Are Family', with an original rap sandwiched in the middle of both songs, including lines like "Angela Bassett did the thing, Viola Davis my ‘Woman King,’ Blanchett Cate you’re a genius, Jamie Lee you are all of us." It may have been well-meaning and was certainly enthusiastically delivered, but the actress has been criticised for her out-of-breath and occasionally nonsensical rap, which left many of the actresses namechecked looking bemused.

Some viewers condemned the performance as 'painful', while another simply said "She must be stopped."

Now, BAFTA have come out in defence of DeBose, with producer Nick Bullen describing the trolling as "incredibly unfair, to be frank.”

He added: "We wanted to open the show with some energy, some fun, and also lay out straight away that this was hopefully going to feel like a different night, but with a familiarity as well, and what Ariana did was exactly that.

“I think a lot of people don’t like change, and there’s a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging. But American awards shows have much more razzmatazz, much more showbiz, and perhaps a broader range of people being involved. We felt we’re not about revolution, we’re about evolution."

DeBose has not personally responded to the criticism.