Brit Awards set for epic return with Taylor Swift making history as first female Global Icon winner

AFTER delays, drama and deliberation, the biggest event in the UK music industry calendar – The Brit Awards – is finally back.

And while tomorrow’s show, usually held in February, may be a little different for those lucky enough to get a seat in London’s O2 Arena, the bash looks like being one of the best in its history.

While award ceremonies this year such as the Oscars and the Baftas have seen A-list stars appearing remotely, the Brits organisers are bucking the trend and bringing together some of the world’s biggest names — with no social distancing in sight.

Among those big names, Taylor Swift will make history as the first female — and at 31, the youngest artist — to win the Global Icon award, given to stars whose music has made a lasting impact on British culture.

Tomorrow night’s show is part of the Government’s Events Research Programme, which examines the risk of Covid transmission at public events to work out ways to hold them safely — so the Brits may set a precedent for all impending indoor UK music shows.

Other events within the Government programme have included the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley Stadium on April 25 and the World Snooker Championships, which had a crowd of 1,000 inside Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre every day between April 17 and May 3.

The stars performing

  • Coldplay
  • Dua Lipa
  • Arlo Parks
  • Griff
  • Headie One
  • Olivia Rodrigo
  • Rag’n’Bone Man and P!nk with the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir
  • The Weeknd

An indoor club night in Liverpool drew almost 3,000 revellers on April 30, and the FA Cup Final between Leicester City and Chelsea on Saturday will also be part of the programme.

It will see 21,000 people watching the match at Wembley.

While on the surface it appears the Brits show has come together seamlessly, there is an army of crew and staff behind the scenes who will help the event come to life.

Safety is a priority for organisers and there will be 500 people on site working just for the O2 Arena, with another 800 backstage to ensure everything runs smoothly.

In previous years almost 20,000 people would pack the O2, but this year’s crowd is far more limited.

Of the mere 4,000 tickets available, organisers handed out 2,500 free to key workers who entered a ballot, created on a dedicated website in just five days, with successful entrants getting a ticket for themselves plus one guest.

On the floor, artists and nominees will sit at far fewer tables, though with the usual free alcohol and snacks.

While nominees are normally surrounded by their assistants and loved ones, this year each one will sit at a table with just one other person, so most tables will be occupied by just two people.

The Brits in numbers

  • 4 women up for Best Album – the highest ever
  • 6 times Kylie changed her outfit in 2009
  • 18 gongs won by Robbie Williams, the Brits’ most celebrated star
  • 7 gongs for U2, most successful international group
  • 1,200 people working on this year’s event
  • 20 years since the Brits hasn’t happened in February
  • 11 rap acts nominated
  • 4,000 guests at the bash

Record labels, sponsors and members of the media make up the remaining guests, seated in suites around the venue.

Yet despite the numbers of attendees being dramatically cut, the Brits will still be the largest gathering inside an arena since the beginning of the pandemic.

Rigorous testing is in place and anyone attending the ceremony has to take an assisted lateral flow test within 36 hours before the bash, and will have to show their negative result, along with ID, to get in.

Tomorrow, the day of the Brits, everyone attending is also asked to take a PCR test at home, which is to be posted the same day, with another to be done five days later.

The result of such testing means that once guests are inside the O2, social distancing will be unnecessary and masks will only need to be worn while people are moving within communal areas.

The show, which is being hosted by Jack Whitehall for the fourth time, is also being billed as musically the most adventurous ever put together by Brits organisers.

An insider added: “The Brits might be scaled back this year but the production values have been amplified and it’s going to be an outstanding show.

“Acts including Dua Lipa have gone all out with their performances, and The Weeknd’s set is promising to be one that will go down in Brits history.

Jack’s back

WHILE Jack Whitehall, pictured, will host the ceremony for the fourth year running, Maya Jama and Clara Amfo will be presenting the backstage coverage.

Maya, 26, and Clara, 36, will be live on ITV2 and on the ITV Hub bringing fans all the best gossip and behind-the-scenes access.

Jack, 32, said of his preparation for the night: “It’s back on the Hollywood diet.

“I’m going full Orlando Bloom in preparation of being back on stage.

“It’ll have to be brain oil and new oats, whatever it is you need to get that Hollywood physique.

“There will be training sessions and Peloton rides to be camera ready.”

“It has been a mammoth logistical feat to deliver such memorable performances and viewers will be in awe.”

Insiders are saying Shake It Off singer Taylor will pick up her Global Icon award in person, after she relocated from the US to North London last year to live with her British boyfriend, actor Joe Alwyn.

The gong has previously been awarded to Sir Elton John, David Bowie and Robbie Williams.

One insider said: “Taylor is very much the guest of honour at the Brits this year and this award is huge for her.

“Having Taylor present at the Brits is hugely exciting, too, as she hasn’t been at the event in person since 2015.”

The ceremony and performances will air live on ITV, then once it ends, guests will be given until 11pm before they have to leave.

Two for one

WINNERS tomorrow will get two iconic Brits statuettes.

Designed by artists Es Devlin, 49, and Yinka Ilori, 34, the big coloured one is for the artist, the small silver one to give away.

Es explained: “Each recipient is invited to award the second trophy to someone they consider worthy, it might be recognition or someone unrelated to music.”

Yinka added: “The idea came from the experience of lockdown, where your neighbour you’ve lived beside for six years and never say hello to suddenly gave you flowers, foods, acts of kindness.”

Normally the end of the ceremony is when the party really begins for Brits guests, with all the major music labels throwing extravagant booze-ups at plush London venues, including The Shard and private members’ club The Ned.

This year those plans have been shelved, with no official after-parties.

But given a year ago the possibility of a night like the Brits ever happening again seemed like a far-fetched dream, those given the opportunity to be there will no doubt just be grateful to be part of history in the making.

  • The Brit Awards is on ITV tomorrow at 8pm

Who will win what?

ALONG with picking up the Global Icon award, Taylor Swift is a shoo-in for the Brits’ International Female gong.

But the night will also belong to Brit Dua Lipa, who is tipped to take home a statuette in all three of her nominated categories – Female Solo Artist, Mastercard Album Of The Year for Future Nostalgia and British Single for her song Physical.

To achieve the feat she will need to beat artists including Harry Styles and Headie One, but early indications suggest Dua will clear up tomorrow.

She is one of the most nominated females, alongside fellow Brits Celeste and Arlo Parks, pictured, who also have three nods each.

Little Mix, made up of Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards, will be hoping to make it third time lucky in the British Group category after previously missing out on the accolade.

The Male Solo Artist category sees another nod for Headie One, who is up for two awards.

He faces competition from acts including AJ Tracey and J Hus, while Foo Fighters are front-runners for best Inter­national Group.

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