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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
Darkness tipped for Mercury triumph
The Darkness
The Darkness' album has been at number one for two weeks
Rock group The Darkness have been made favourites for the Mercury Music Prize as fans rushed to put late bets on.

Bookmaker William Hill closed its book on Saturday, with The Darkness finishing 7/2 favourites - cut from Thursday's price of 6/1.

The flamboyant newcomers leapfrogged Coldplay, who finished at 4/1, with garage star Dizzee Rascal at 9/2.

The Mercury Prize, for best album of the year by a UK or Irish act, is awarded in London on Tuesday.

The Darkness have been one of the most popular new bands to emerge in 2003, and their debut album, Permission To Land, has spent two weeks at number one.

MERCURY FAVOURITES
Coldplay
The Darkness - 7/2
Coldplay (above) - 4/1
Dizzee Rascal - 9/2
Athlete - 5/1
The Thrills - 6/1
Source: William Hill
They have become known for their entertaining live shows, 1980s-style stadium metal anthems and the spandex catsuits worn by singer Justin Hawkins.

Ladbrokes closed bets a day earlier - with The Darkness second favourites behind Dizzee Rascal - but reported a flurry of fans trying to bet on The Darkness after the book closed at the weekend.

"Hundreds of people have been trying to back the Darkness to win," a Ladbrokes spokesman said.

"We've had a lot of people coming in, mainly in west London and Camden trying to back The Darkness - music industry places are based there."

Both bookmakers said they always closed their books several days before such events took place, and did not stop taking bets because of The Darkness' popularity.

Also in the running for the prestigious award are melodic rock group Athlete, Irish band The Thrills and relative veterans Radiohead.

Last year's prize was won by R&B singer Ms Dynamite for her debut album.


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