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Last Updated:  Thursday, 20 February, 2003, 22:01 GMT
Reality check among safe Brits thrills
by Ian Youngs
BBC News Online at the Brit Awards

Pink at the Brit Awards
Best international female Pink: "I'm completely sober tonight"
"It could do with a bit of Gallaghering," Ben Elton said as he presented a Brit award to Pink - referring to the annual yearning for someone like Liam Gallagher to liven things up with some bad behaviour.

Unfortunately, Gallagher was nowhere to be seen and the ceremony made do with the controversy supplied by the anti-war stances of Ms Dynamite and Coldplay's Chris Martin.

The risk of drunken antics was cut because guests were not being constantly refuelled with alcohol during the show as they have been in the past.

Pink, normally a wild child, illustrated the point when she accepted her award, saying: "I'm normally an idiot when I get up here - I'm always tipsy or something.

"But I'm completely sober tonight."

Her sobriety probably stopped her asking exactly who the bloke presenting her with her award was.

Cheesy TV

The new auditorium layout, letting more real fans in, added to the atmosphere and made it feel more like an arena concert when the performers were on stage.

Davina McCall
Davina McCall: A safe pair of hands for the hosting job
But when the awards were being presented at the podium, which was stranded in the middle of the arena, it seemed more like a cheesy TV special.

Davina McCall wandered around the arena as she did her lovable patter and the podium was surrounded by nominees and music industry execs in dark suits.

That made it feel like a cross between ITV1's An Audience with Davina McCall and the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year rather than a night of rock 'n' roll hedonism.

McCall was a safe pair of hands to host this year's event after Frank Skinner's ego trip in 2002 - but her chirpy, mock-risqué style became grating quickly.

She liked to have a little boogie at the podium when the cameras were off her, but looked more like an embarrassing aunt who thought she was down with the kids.

Her ability to ad lib was one of her good points, breaking from her script as she walked past a man talking on a mobile phone to berate him.

But she occasionally slipped up, such as when she announced the "breast" British male award.

Kay's low point

Actor Owen Wilson made sure she did not forget it when he presented the "breast British group" prize to Coldplay.

Wilson and his presenting partner Jackie Chan were more inspired choices than Z-list presenting personalities like Vernon Kay and Tess Daly.

Channel 4 host Kay was supposed to have been presenting with Denise van Outen, but when Elijah Wood and Liv Tyler did not show, the pair were split up and presented one statuette each.

His bad jokes ("Didn't Moss Bros do well this week?") and strange scarf arrangement were the low point of the evening.

Ms Dynamite
Ms Dynamite: Stole the show
Luckily, comedians Matt Lucas, better known as George Dawes, and David Lucas provided some humour when they dressed as Charlotte Church and Eminem to present the prize for best British male.

Some were surprised to see that Coldplay were among the most charismatic winners, and Chris Martin has definitely moved past his "awkward bloke rocker" phase.

But, despite their group hugs and kisses, they could not match the excitement of the Sugababes, one of whom let out an ear-splitting shriek on reaching the podium to collect their prize for best British dance act.

On the stage, many of the performances tried too hard to take the breath away with extravagant sets and raunchy routines, but with too little emphasis on the voices and chemistry.

Kylie and Justin Timberlake looked like they had only been introduced five minutes earlier as they danced around each other during their duet, and Sugababes were stuck to the floor as giant turbines turned and flames shot out in front of them.

But Avril Lavigne's idea of having 21 drummers stacked up the wall like a rock version of Celebrity Squares was inspired, and Ms Dynamite's anti-war duet with George Michael was one of the special moments that the Brits were once known for.

Reputation booster

Ms Dynamite's reception from the crowd proved that she is now seen as an idol by the fans, who also gave Michael a huge cheer.

He only appeared on a giant screen, having recorded his half of the duet in Los Angeles.

His association with Ms Dynamite certainly helped his street cred no end and made the pop kids forget all about the media furore over his Shoot the Dog video.

It was undoubtedly the with-child Ms Dynamite's night, holding the bump in her stomach and thanking her husband when nobody knew she was married on top of collecting two prizes and performing.

That was the only thing that saved it from being just a night of safe, transient pop fun.



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