Somewhere in Greenwich, James Corden is running through his lines.
"I wonder if giving my fee to charity will stop people criticising me?" he might wonder.
Perhaps, if you hadn't revealed at the same time how big that fee was. Going "I'm giving my fee to charity" might have swung it, but saying "I'm giving my fifty grand fee to charity" just makes you look flash.
And why are you giving it to Comic Relief? Isn't the Brits meant to be a fundraiser in its own right? Haven't you taken one charity's money and given it straight to another charity?
Of course, there's nothing new in The Unfunny One From A Sitcom hosting the Brits - who can forget the years Denzel from Only Fools did it? Or Mother from Fresh Fields? Or the entire cast of In Loving Memory.
They've just advertised Otis Ear Drops in the run-up. Probably the last thing you'd actually want on a night like this.
"With some flashing images". Consider yourself warned.
They've dragooned some pop stars into promoting Mastercard for the breakbumpers.
First impression: The O2 is way, way too huge for this. The stage looks like a flea circus in a shopping centre.
Take That have marched on behind squads of riot police. Are they duetting with Mubarak?
Monkeys learn to build machines, warns Take That. It's a less sinister warning than "hosted by James Corden".
Street dancing riot policemen. It's Britain's Got Talent And Problems.
Can't help noticing the Take That logo on the riot shields - is this a manifestation of the Big Society? Pop stars sponsoring the cops? Gary Barlow is always willing to help Dave Cameron out, so it's not impossible.
The riot police are taking their uniforms off. They're dressed like civilians. You know, like the Egyptian Police did. Um... maybe that's not what they were hoping to go for.
"Members of the pop star community" are asked to welcome Corden. Really? The community?
At least Corden is wearing clothes. At least at the moment.
He seems quite nervous.
"The new stop climate change Brit Award"? Is it really called that?
Dizzee Rascal - who was Tinie Tempah last year - comes on to do Male Solo Artist. It's clear why they're trying to get this out the way quickly, as most of the nominees will have to be back home before matron locks the doors.
The winner is... Plan B
Elton John has described Plan B as "the male Amy Winehouse". I'm not sure that's a compliment, is it?
Plan B thanks his mum from his heart. That's quite sweet. The massive list of thanks after that, not so much.
"Stay tuned" say ITV. How about you don't go for a bloody break after five minutes if you want us to keep watching?
"My mum has been there for the whole time." Why yes, mothers are usually there from the beginning of your, y'know, life.
Oh that's taken the wind out of my sails, I like Plan B #thebrits
Eliza Doolittle has just given away her priceless trainers to a fan. Or possibly a shoe fetishist.
Corden's back. Oh, shit, he's really not doing any jokes, is he? Obviously that's wise, but surely if all you want is someone to mutter some platitudes, there are people who could do it professionally?
Adele's trying to do a nice, touching, personal song. Unfortunately, she's stood on a massive stage in an aircraft hanger. It's the sort of intimate moment you have when someone streams pictures of you in the shower via Qik.
Is this going to be The Authenticity Brits #britawards
Bless, James Corden is pretending that he actually has an emotional connection with music. #brits
Adele's getting some glitter dropped on her. In that big space, it just looks like a fleck of dandruff off a shoulder.
Corden's almost in tears. In tears. "All you need is a piano. Incredible."
He then plugs the downloads on iTunes for those of you not ripping the soundtrack directly.
First album nomination feature: Mumford And Sons. They're brilliant, says Corden.
Eww... they're floating quotes from critics over the top of the package. And giving the Mumfords a chance to have a little chatty about the records. "People can relate to our songs because they're real." Unlike Plan B, whose songs are all figments of your imagination, that would be.
James Corden's first joke of the evening: "That Mumford doesn't look old enough to be their Dads, does he?" Perhaps he should stick with the not doing jokes.
Justin Beiber is sat in front of a massive bucket of wine. Corden tells him he smells good and asks how old he is. Does he know this is going out on TV?
Fearne Cotton is introduced (with Corden's first 'I'm fat' joke of the evening) as 'the woman who's broken more bands than I've had hot dinners'. Presumably actually broken them - as in a "fantastic" from Fearne is enough to make you give up?
Breakthrough goes to Tine Tempah. His most famous fans, we're told, include "Princes William and Harry". Says. it. all.
Tinie's wearing a white suit and a spotted bow tie. Like he's going to a prom without a girlfriend.
"If I wore a suit like that I'd look like a weird umpire" says Corden, which might have been an attempt to explain why Boris Becker is coming on to do the next award.
Boris Becker? Have we run out of presenters already?
Das Weisse Comet gives the prize to The Arcade Fire. Who the hell are they? I've never heard of them.
That's International Band, by the way.
"We're Arcade Fire. Check it out on Google." That's the first funny joke of the evening. They go on to thank every British band who operated in the 1980s. None since. That might worry the Brits panel, if they think about.
Corden's just done his second fat joke. And I think the first two wank jokes of the evening.
Rihanna seems to be stuck behind one of those curtains you used to get in bookies doorways.
So many talented comedians in the UK and they choose that muppet. For fucking shame. #brits
What the hell is Rihanna wearing? From the chest up it looks like something Rita Fairclough would have worn in her club days; from there downwards it looks... oh, she's ripped it off and is now in her pants. Never mind.
Her dancers are crawling along the floor hammering in despair. Perhaps they realised that Corden had started doing gags again.
Oh, Rihanna's doing one of those things where the artist just sticks bits of the songs together; like Stars On 45. Only this time with fire and a bunch of idiots with drums.
"After the break, the amazing Mumford & Sons perform." The amazing ones; the slightly dull ones haven't been invited. It's never a good sign when people are desperately telling you you're watching something fantastic.
This new version of JR Hartley with a musician instead of a fly-fishing expert surely only works if you remember the original, which went out - what - twenty years ago? Surely those who recall it will tune out of the young bloke in a record shop scenario, while those who don't won't quite get the point. It is very old.
Someone else has given the fans their shoes. Of course, post-Egypt showing people your shoes is something of an insult in modern parlance, isn't it?
Mark Ronson is going to give the Critics Choice In Assocation With War Child - why is a charity sponsoring an award?
This one had already been announced, of course: it's Jessie J. Lady GaGa on a European Space Agency budget. "I didn't plan anything to say" she says, which since she's had a month to plan seems like it lacks a little foresight.
Her thank you is really, really dull.
A package for Tinie Tempah's "fantastic" album. Sorry, "sensational" debut album. "I didn't know why I called it Discovery when I started" says Tinie. You named the album before you started making it?
I think if you go to the Brit School then they just let you have one [Critics Choice prize] along with your A-Levels results.
Mumford And Sons come on. Notice Bob Dylan's not turned up to return the favour.
At least they're dressed correctly for playing in a barn.
People are whooping in the audience, which sounds inappropriate, but they're so far from the stage they've probably only just got the sound of Rihanna reaching them.
Another act doing a beautiful, fragile song. Did nobody think to pop down to see the size of the venue they were having to fill tonight?
Corden says "that's a brave performance", as if they'd come on and gone Brokeback Mountain.
He then makes a big fuss about - hee hee - this is a music show, and it's about music, but the next presenter is Lewis Hamilton. Which might have been amusing, in a self-defeating way, if he'd done it before Boris Becker came on, but by now there's been almost as many sportspeople on the stage as musicians.
Cee Lo has won International Male.
Cee Lo congratulates the audience on having great taste in music, and says Britain is great for music. He cites Boy George as an example, which again suggests most North Americans think we stopped making music sometime around the start of the Major government.
Tinie Tempah is doing a break bumper - "these shades are a big part of who I am", he says, unconvincingly.
I've learned something this eveninhg. Admittedly, it's that Jimbob's favourite member of Take That is Mark Owen (thanks, Jack in the comments). Not clear if this is still true now Mark Owen has proven himself to be no better than Leanne Battersby, mind.
Best mobile device goes to Apple iPhone 4. #MWC
(I think Rory Cellan-Jones is at a better awards ceremony.)
All the award winners so far are going to show up later to do live performances. What a coincidence.
Alan Carr - who used to be part of an unsatisfactory double-act himself - has come on to do a prize giving. He's made a joke about pedometers.
Best single, partly voted for by listeners to Capital FM, which used to be your local radio station.
Just the snatches of Scouting For Girls and Olly Murs is enough to make you despair. No wonder Americans pretend Boy George is the newest star we've come up with.
Tinie Tempah wins. The voice overs keep suggesting that hits on YouTube are the measure of success, which might be true but hardly suggests that even the Brits takes selling records seriously any more.
Nearly half way. Tinie insists he wants Labyrinth before he'll do a speech. Big fan of Bowie dressed as a goblin king.
Simon Le Bon and John Taylor - who used to come to the Brits with a wheelbarrow to take awards home in - are on for Best International Group. John Taylor is starting to look like a vampire running for Republican presidential nomination.
Arcade Fire win. Their second prize of the night. Oh, please don't become the Kings Of Leon.
"I want to thank Haiti". I don't think you quite meant that, Ron Weaseley.
Simon le Bon looks like a sex-case wombat. In a good way.
Plan B is using back projections for his performance. Because it's all about playing a character, see, so it's like cinema and levels of artifice, see?
This is a good point to feed the cats.
Oh, more riot police. Perhaps Plan B should have compared notes with Take That?
The cats had turkey in a thick gravy, by the way. Oh, and here's James Corden back on.
While the Brits are on, there's an art show being disrupted by activists. How would we spot if something similar happened here? We might think that it was the third staged riot of the evening.
The XX get their shortlist moment. I'm not sure, but I think this is the first time an NME review has been floated across the screen during one of these album promos. Presumably if they'd won, though, they'd be playing tonight?
Corden is doing an interview with CeeLo that makes Jools Holland's interviews look like Paxman trying to find out who killed his wife. "Did you fly over on an ordinary plane or come in a boat?"
The Ting Tings are giving away their drum for Mastercard. Yes, you do. The Ting Tings. Apparently they'd only had the drum left as they've sold the rest of their kit for food.
Confused.com now destroying Chain Reaction with a terrible advert. Nothing should be more upsetting than Go Compare.
When you're at the event itself the 2nd half of the show (i.e. from about now) is a cheap white wine blur. I'm thinking that's on purpose.
Here's that Capital FM advert during the Brits, featuring mostly US artists - congrats to JLS and Tinie Tempah for making the grade :(
Ting Tings have given away their drum. "Could we finish your crisps?" they ask the winner.
Avril Lavigne and Will Young come on together to give a prize, after some stuff about Keys and Gray from Gordon. Because sexism is so bloody funny.
How come Lewis Hamilton gets to present an award on his own and Will Young and Avril have to share?
International Breakthrough goes to Justin Beiber. "I could be his dad or his mum" says Will, confusingly.
Yes, the Brits have given a prize to Beiber. The sound you hear is the value of all the other awards being marked down like Greek Sovereign Debt.
If Beiber's 16, shouldn't they have dropped by now?
He's trying to bring someone called Mike on stage to share the moment. Mike doesn't come on; perhaps he thinks it's To Catch A Predator - Celebrity Edition.
Boy George - the last musician from the UK America has heard of - is here for British female.
Did I mention that Corden has tried some ad-libbing?
Fucking hell - Laura Marling. I wouldn't have expected that. It's, like, a well-deserved award. She doesn't look like she expected it, either.
Arcade Fire doing some live performance now. No armed police on stage. Bless, they're Canadian, so they probably don't understand the rules.
Best brit female? Annie Lennox, surely? Or Moyet. It's bound to be Moyet! #Brits
By the way, while we're over here having fun over here, the Commons has just overturned the 40% turnout requirement amendment on the AV Bill. Now would be a good time to riot in the streets, as all the cops are backstage at the Millennium Dome.
Corden interviews Ronson. "They're my favourite band [Arcade Fire]. They're amazing." "Yes" says Corden, "they're amazing."
Corden tries to keep the Beiber-calling-for-Mike thing going as a running gag. Unfortunately Mark Ronson has no clue what he's talking about.
Take That's album package now. Lots of talk about love over footage of rowing. "We're just starting our journey together."
It's the only night of the year anyone thinks "I can't wait for ITV News At Ten to start.
Still waiting for the Gaye Bykers On Acid reunion on the #Brits
Corden has just suggested Cheryl Cole is on a par with Madonna or Kylie. Is that his waspish sense of humour there?
International Female action time, then. The mighty Robyn's up for this one. Could it be?
No, of course not. You don't think Rihanna turned up just to sing, do you?
Cheryl says that Rihanna's her girl crush. As opposed to that toilet attendant, who was her crushed girl.
Rihanna: "It doesn't get much bigger than the Brits". Apart from the Grammys, or the Oscars. The BAFTAs. Whatever it is that Rory Cellan-Jones is at.
Corden's jokes are landing so flat you could slide them under a bank vault door, but - let's be fair - he's still nowhere near as awful as Peter Kay was last year. He's not even as embarrassing as the last time he did it.
Neither of those bars, though cleared, are particularly challenging.
If you're also looking for consolation: rather Tinie Tempah than JLS. At least he can deliver his stuff effectively. Although tonight there's a string section on with him.
"How do you follow that?" asks a gurning Corden, grinning for all the world like a man who's just realised he forgot to set the Sky+ so won't have to sit through this when he gets home.
Dermot O'Leary comes on, and asks the audience to applaud Corden. He doesn't actually pat him on the head, but you wonder if ITV asked him to throw a drowning man a rope.
This is British group time. Take That win, which confirms we're back on the obvious prize route.
In about 10 seconds Dermot O'Leary did a better job of presenting than Corden has all night
Robbie Williams keeps bellowing "shabba". At least when George Lamb did it, it was only two years too late.
Plan B album package now. It's funny that we now live in age when the record-buying public are too young to know that concept albums are meant to be a bad thing.
Corden is now at a table pointlessly interviewing Plan B. Plan B thinks "a lot more people will be open to hiphop now because of what I done with this record." He's like a rhyming Joe Maplin.
Anasatacia's here now, she's giving away her shoes that she wore on her last tour. Last tour? That must explain why they look like they went out of fashion about 15 years ago then.
There's an advert for Vodafone on now. They're tax-dodging bastards who sucked billions away from the Exchequer, but - oh, they're giving away tickets to see a fashion show so let's forgive them, shall we?
Ok, got message from friend of voice over lady. Stop mean words... Let's enjoy the show :-)
I think they just showed the wrong break bumper - ought it not to have been someone getting Anastacia's old shoes and not the Ting Tings showing us a guitar?
Roger Daltrey comes on to give the album prize - "good to see the British music industry still has enough money for a good booze-up" he says. Pity it doesn't have the cash for a decent awards show.
Roger says Plan B's performance reminded him of the early days of The Who. He doesn't explain how.
Mumford And Sons have won the best album prize, which I think now means everyone who played live has got a prize, right?
James Corden rushes them off the stage quickly so that Cee Lo can come on and we can all go home. If the Best Album really is the highlight of the evening - which seems to be the new rule of the Brits - why treat the winners like they're being a pain in the arse for enjoying their moment? Especially when there's been time for an interview with Mark Ronson for no apparent reason.
CeeLo has a corsage which appears to be made from Rihanna's discarded dress from earlier.
Paloma Faith has just come on stage in a car. What A TOTALLY UNEXPECTED AND CRAZY COLLABORATION. It's like nothing I have ever seen.
[Producer's note: Please be aware that in the Brits 2012, the part of Paloma Faith will be played by Imelda May.]
I wonder if having done one of Cee's songs, they'll do one of Paloma's. (Actually, I don't).
And that's it. Not the worst Brits ever. A bit better than last year's. But, oh, the Millennium Dome is an unforgiving dark hole for doing a live TV programme from. Wasn't that the reason they decamped out to Earls' Court in the first place, so it looked like there was an audience present?
James Corden? Snap judgement: he didn't do anywhere near as well as Gordon Smart will say he did in tomorrow's paper. The jokes he did were rancid, and the bits he wasn't doing jokes in had the sincerity of late period Parkinson coupled with the confident delivery of those kids they had doing reports on Why Don't You?
A last word from Twitter:
Dear major record companies. Please fuck and collapse. Do it now you coked up self obsessed wankers
And remember, everyone: they've already signed up James Corden to be back next year. And the year after that. May god have mercy on us all.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011