Brit Awards 2021: what you need to know as show returns with live performances and 4,000 in crowd

The awards ceremony will feature performances from the likes of Dua Lipa, Coldplay and The Weeknd

The Brit Awards will return to London’s O2 Arena tonight, marking the first live music show at the venue in more than a year.

There will be an audience of 4,000 people at this year’s event, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, as part of the Government’s live events pilot scheme, with 2,500 tickets gifted to key workers from the Greater London area.

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‘Celebrate another year of brilliant British music’

Dua Lipa in the winners room during The Brit Awards 2019 held at The O2 Arena (Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

Audience members attending the indoor ceremony will not be socially distanced or required to wear face coverings once seated.

They will, however, need proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue and will be required to provide details to NHS Test and Trace and follow Government guidance while travelling.

Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: “Music has been a great source of comfort and connection during the pandemic.

“Tonight we’ll bring the industry back together with 2,500 key workers to celebrate another year of brilliant British music and look ahead to the return of fans to live performances.”

“While venues have been closed, we helped the live music sector with £250 million in grants from our Culture Recovery Fund going to more than 2,000 organisations.

“But now we’re preparing to restart live performances and as part of the Events Research Programme, this year’s Brits will test how we can welcome back bigger crowds to enjoy more fantastic performances safely.”

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Government Events Research Programme

The Brit Awards is part of the Government’s Events Research Programme, which is a programme that looks at how venues can restart large events and welcome back crowds safely.

Audience members will not be socially distanced nor will they be required to wear a face covering once seated in the arena.

All attendees must have proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue, and as part of the wider scientific research, they will be asked to take a test after the event to gather further evidence on the safety of indoor settings, reduced social distancing and the removal of non-pharmaceutical interventions like face coverings.

Attendees will also have to provide contact details for NHS Test and Trace to ensure that everyone can be traced in the event of an audience member receiving a positive test after the event.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We continue to take steps to getting back to doing the things we love, whether that’s meeting friends and loved ones, or attending live sport and music.

“These planned pilots mean we can gather the necessary evidence to inform our plans for future events, ensuring mass events can take place safely.

“I am enormously grateful for the hard work of scientists and clinicians from across the country, which will mean we can start to enjoy these events safely.”

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The Brits are always a big night in the music calendar, but this year’s awards will be particularly special.

“They will reunite live audiences with the best of British talent for the first time in a year, while providing a vital opportunity to see how we can get large crowds back safely as soon as possible.

“Music connected us when we were separated by this pandemic, and now it’s going to help bring us back together again.”

Performances from Dua Lipa, Coldplay and Arlo Parks

The ceremony will air live on ITV and ITV Hub from 8pm, while Chelcee Grimes and Arielle Free will host the international live stream via the Brits YouTube page.

Yasmin Evans and AJ Odudu will host a stream of the red carpet, which has been limited in capacity this year, and there will also be a watch party on Twitter.

Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks, Celeste, rap duo Young T & Bugsey and DJ and producer Joel Corry are all nominated for three awards this year.

Jessie Ware, dance music duo Bicep and rappers AJ Tracey, J Hus and Headie One all scored two nominations apiece.

Coldplay will start the ceremony with a performance of new single Higher Power from a pontoon on the River Thames.

They join Arlo Parks, Dua Lipa, Griff, Headie One, The Weeknd, Olivia Rodrigo and Rag’n’Bone Man and Pink with the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir on the live billing for the event.

Tuesday’s show will also see Taylor Swift celebrated with the global icon Brit Award, becoming the first female artist to win the prize.

She is being recognised for “her immense impact on music across the world and incredible repertoire and achievements to date”, according to organisers.

Comedian Whitehall is returning for a fourth time to host the awards show.

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