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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 February, 2004, 20:25 GMT
The Darkness dominate Brit Awards
Justin Hawkins
Hat-trick hero: Justin Hawkins blows a kiss after performing
Glam rock sensations The Darkness have dominated the Brits, winning three awards at the UK music industry's annual ceremony.

The band took best British album, best British group and best British rock act at the event in London.

Dido also won two awards - best British single for White Flag and best British female - but was not at the ceremony.

Busted and Justin Timberlake were also double winners, while Beyonce Knowles took best international female.

The Darkness were one of the success stories of 2003 after selling 1.2 million albums in the UK since July.

Frontman Justin Hawkins said: "It's a real privilege, a tremendous honour and a real achievement.

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Flash dance: Beyonce's routine sent up the Janet Jackson furore
"I have to say we probably are the best British group."

Later, wearing a silver catsuit to accept the British album prize, he said: "This is the award we all secretly hoped for - it's huge."

In an interview with BBC Radio 1 backstage, Hawkins said he felt "tremendous, awesome, very teary. It's as emotional as I have ever been in this game".

Beyonce - wearing 250,000 worth of diamonds - appeared on stage in a puff of smoke to sing her hit Crazy In Love before accepting her prize.

She gasped in mock horror when a male dancer flashed his Union Jack boxer shorts at her - a send-up of the furore in the US caused by Janet Jackson flashing her nipple at the Super Bowl.

Absent winners

Absent singer Daniel Bedingfield - in New Zealand recovering from a car crash in which he broke two vertebrae in his neck - took best British male.

He accepted his award from host Cat Deeley by telephone.

Model Naomi Campbell - who was supposed to present the British rock prize - also did not show because she was late for the three-hour ceremony, which began at 1720 GMT.

Duran Duran
Duran Duran collected the outstanding achievement prize
Dido, who pulled out of the Brits to concentrate on her world tour, won best British female and best British single for White Flag.

In a video message, she said she was "pretty surprised" to have won. "I know it's voted for by the public, I'm so grateful."

Her place in the performance schedule was filled by a duet between best-selling British easy listening artists Jamie Cullum and Katie Melua - The Cure's Love Cats.

Enduring Duran

Justin Timberlake presented Duran Duran with the outstanding contribution to music award - saying the band were "the only reason" he turned up at the ceremony.

Accepting the prize, frontman Simon Le Bon said: "This band owes everything to this country and to the great British music scene.

Cat Deeley
Host Cat Deeley marked the return of alcohol to the ceremony
"By presenting us with this award you have validated us. You have also honoured us with a place alongside those who first inspired us."

Timberlake himself said his own success was "awesome".

"This is only my first record so you guys stick with me - we've got depression and drug addiction to go through," he told the audience.

Fame Academy runner-up Lemar won the British urban act award, beating Big Brovaz and Mis-Teeq.

Meanwhile Basement Jaxx won the best British dance act title, beating Groove Armada and Goldfrapp among others.

The White Stripes won best international group, while 50 Cent won best international breakthrough act.


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The BBC's Henrietta Harrison
"The Darkness were expected to clean up and they did"



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