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Thursday, 21 February, 2002, 01:12 GMT
Cringe along with Frank
Skinner started with a 15-minute solo comedy routine
Skinner started with a 15-minute solo comedy routine
By BBC News Online's Ian Youngs at Earl's Court

Brits organisers will look back on the decision to invite Frank Skinner to co-host this year's Brits Awards as a gamble that did not pay off.

From the moment he first stepped onto the stage in a Union Jack shirt and tie, launching into a rambling 15-minute solo routine, the backstage mutterings were that the ghost of Mick Fleetwood had come back to haunt the glittering awards.

Frank Skinner and Zoe Ball
Skinner and co-host Zoe Ball shared a kiss after the show
Fleetwood hosted a farcical ceremony with page three girl Samantha Fox in 1989 that has since become infamous.

Skinner's performance was not that bad - but will be one of the biggest talking points of an uneventful ceremony.

And he knew it. "It's like a homage to Fleetwood and Fox," he said at one point.

The show was opened by Gorillaz, who were to go home empty-handed despite making a sophisticated computer-generated video for their performance that reportedly cost 300,000.

Skinner then appeared, and launched into a song and dance based on the old television adverts for mechanics Kwik-Fit.

Skinner watched as Robbie Williams' acceptance speech was played
Skinner watched as Robbie Williams' acceptance speech was played
His pun that it was his version of "UK garage" set the droll tone.

He then made jokes about Elton John, Michael Jackson, Simon Cowell, Naomi Campbell and Eva Herzigova, among others.

But most of the crowd were laughing out of embarrassment than anything else.

Many wondered whether he had forgotten that he had a co-host, Zoe Ball, waiting in the wings, and that the UK's biggest music ceremony of the year was waiting to get under way in earnest.

When she did finally appear, Ball held the show together well, describing herself as the "ringmaster" at one point.

Simon Cowell was the subject of one of Skinner's jibes
Simon Cowell was the subject of one of Skinner's jibes
Skinner often could not resist the chance to take a pop at the winners or those presenting the awards.

He told Formula One driver Eddie Irvine, who presented the prize for best international album to Kylie Minogue, that motor-racing "was not a proper sport".

Cringe

He asked the audience to boo Pop Idol judge Simon Cowell as he appeared to announce that S Club 7 had won best British single.

But he did not dare mess with Russell Crowe when the Hollywood star, who said little himself, came on stage to give Kylie her other award, for best international female.

Russell Crowe was a man of few words on stage
Russell Crowe was a man of few words on stage
One of the most cringe-worthy moments was when Skinner persuaded German model Heidi Klum, on stage to present the best British group gong, to yodel.

Getting into the spirit of things, she asked him to try his yodelling voice in return, and he did.

There were precious few other talking points in a ceremony devoid of the rock and roll antics that often make it so entertaining.

There was little bad behaviour, no drenched cabinet ministers, an absence of giant parting legs (remember Geri Halliwell?) and no on-stage rows.

Robbie Williams did set a joke challenge for Pop Idol winner Will Young and Westlife's Bryan McFadden did make a 1,000 football bet with Skinner, but most celebrities were well-behaved when they took the stage.

Ali G performed a duet with Shaggy
Ali G performed a duet with Shaggy
The performance by So Solid Crew was incident free and turned out to be one of the most spectacular slots, mainly thanks to the fact that the Crew's 28 members - plus dancers - were all on stage at the same time.

Even Ali G, who performed a duet with Shaggy, was tamer than usual.

During acceptance speeches, most stars were content to thank their record companies, managers, agents, mums, partners - and of course the fans.

In fact, Bryan McFadden was so keen to thank the fans that organisers cut his gushing acceptance speech short when he went on too long.

Innovators

The lack of huge international stars meant this year's ceremony was never likely to be the Brits' most glorious hour.

Best international group winners Destiny's Child did not turn up, while U2 and Madonna were not even nominated.

The fact that Gorillaz, the UK's most successful innovators of the last 12 months, were not given a single prize despite six nominations, summed up the evening.

Victories for Dido and Kylie should not be belittled, but a ceremony full of Skinner's weak jokes and devoid of true excitement will lead many to accuse the Brits of being stuck in a rut.

See also:

14 Jan 02 | TV and Radio
'Outrageous' Skinner show censured
16 Dec 01 | TV and Radio
Skinner crowned TV comedy king
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