ENTERTAINMENT
18/02/2020 07:09 GMT | Updated 07/05/2021 11:55 BST

Brit Awards 2021: 29 Memorable Moments That Defined The Brits

From Samantha Fox's presenting fiasco to Madonna taking a tumble.

Wardrobe malfunctions, political statements and shocking celebrity feuds, the Brit Awards stage has seen them all over the last 40 years.

The Brits are famously the most chaotic awards shows going, and while the impression seems to be that they’ve become more tame in recent years, that doesn’t mean the last few years have been without their own jaw-dropping moments. 

We’ve rounded up the good, the bad and, indeed, the ugly for you, and hand-picked 29 of the most memorable Brit Awards moments ever...

Adele proves why you don’t rush a superstar (2013)

 

Best British Album is the category every UK artist wants to win at the Brits, so it’s understandable that Adele would want to soak up the moment when 21 was given the accolade.

Sadly for host James Corden, it looked as though her acceptance speech was going to overlap with Blur’s performance back in 2012, and as he tried to hurry her along, the frustrated singer wound up flipping the bird before leaving the stage.

Michael Jackson’s uninvited guest (1996)

 

Michael Jackson performed at the Brits just once in his lifetime, and given what happened in 1996, it’s no surprise he decided never to come back.

While the singer was performing Earth Song, Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker stormed the stage and pointed his bum at MJ, before being removed by security. He later claimed he’d been upset by the pop icon’s choice to make himself appear Christ-like during the performance.

After the show, Jarvis was arrested – and subsequently released without charge – as he was accused of hurting three of the children on stage. Drama!

Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood host the show (1989)

Eugene Adebari/REX/Shutterstock

It’s now been more than 30 years since this happened, but we’re still puzzled as to exactly who thought that teaming up two completely unrelated non-presenters to host one of Britain’s biggest TV events was a good idea.

The excruciating evening was dogged with guest mix-ups, autocue fails and jokes that went down like lead balloons. So all in all, not a great night, but it is still being talked about, which surely counts for something, right?

Robbie Williams vs. Liam Gallagher (2000)

 

They’d already been swapping insults in the press for a while, but things between Robbie Williams and Liam Gallagher came to a head at the Brits in 2000.

Our favourite part of this video is right at the end, when the late Caroline Aherne muses that “her money would be on Liam”...

Mrs Merton delivers her incredible Brits one-liner (1997) 

 

Speaking of the late Caroline Aherne, she was on hand to present Best British Single as her Mrs Merton alter-ego back in 1997, and delivered a truly iconic one-liner.

After ribbing presenter Ben Elton, she then declared: “Charlie, wherever you are, can you make yourself known? They’re all asking for you backstage. In the toilets, it’s Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, you’d think they’d have enough to do with being pop stars.”

“So that’s lovely,” she added. Brilliant stuff. 

Wait, what is Tony Blair doing at the Brit Awards? (1996)

 

In a move that seems stranger with every year that passes, David Bowie chose the then-leader of the opposition Tony Blair to welcome him to the stage, when he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution title in 1996.

 Cat Deeley announces: ‘Rock is back!’ (2004)

PA

Largely inspired by the success of The Darkness, Cat Deeley opened the Brits in 2004 with a bold declaration about the return of rock music and how Brits bosses had lifted the alcohol ban in place for the previous few years (hence the champagne bottle).

However, the night was hardly a rock-heavy occasion, with performers on the night including 50 Cent, Missy Elliott and... Dido.

Kanye West keeps the Brit Awards censors busy for five minutes (2015)

 

Kanye West blessed the Brits audience in 2015 with a debut performance of a new track, All Day.

Unfortunately for viewers at home, most of it was silenced due to Kanye’s repeated use of the n-word (though the censorship didn’t stop some viewers from complaining regardless).

But Kanye’s not the only one who forced producers to cut the sound (2020)

Samir Hussein via Getty Images

Accepting his first ever Brit with a Red Stripe in his hand, the sound mysteriously dipped in the middle of Lewis Capaldi’s acceptance speech, right when he declared: “Thank you very fucking much.”

Later on in the night, he returned to the stage – this time with a bottle of Buckfast – and gave a shout-out to ex-girlfriend Paige Turley, who at that time was still in the Love Island villa.

Geri Halliwell’s dress becomes immediately iconic (1997)

Alan Davidson / Silverhub/REX/Shutterstock

The legend goes that Geri Halliwell and her sister made her infamous Union Jack dress with a tea-towel, adding a peace sign on the back so as not to offend anyone.

Years later, the iconic garment went on to sell for a record-breaking £41,320 at an auction.

Lizzo meets Marvin Humes (2019)

Let’s be honest, sometimes red carpet coverage of the Brit Awards can verge on being a little dry. More often than not, the stars are on their best behaviour, saving their more raucous antics for the infamous after-parties.

So we were glad when Lizzo made her Brits debut in 2019, chatting candidly backstage to Marvin Humes, ending in the truly iconic line: “From your lips to my p***y.”

Lizzo and Harry Styles really get into the chaotic swing of things (2020)

 

Neither of them even took home awards, but Lizzo and Harry Styles were truly the winners of the Brits in 2020 after this chaotic – and tequila-assisted – scene.

Little Mix really felt like celebrating after winning their first ever Brit Award (2017)

 

It’s hard to choose a favourite moment of this compilation, but “it’s about time in the words of Sarah ’arding” in an explicable Northern accent has to be up there.

The white rose protest (2018)

Vianney Le Caer/Invision/AP

Awards ceremony in 2018 came soon after the rise of the Me Too movement, and saw stars on the red carpet putting on various shows of solidarity with the victims of sexual abuse.

While the Golden Globes and Baftas saw guests arriving in all-black outfits, music shows the Grammys and Brits both saw attendees posing with white rose pins and holding the flowers to raise awareness for the cause.

Stormzy calls out Theresa May during his performance (2018)

 

By the end of the 2018 ceremony, the night already belonged to Stormzy, who had picked up Best British Male as well as the top award of the night, Best British Album.

It was fitting, then, that he should also close the show, putting on an elaborate performance of Blinded By Your Grace, pt. 2. It was what came next that grabbed headlines, though, as he launched into a freestyle rap calling out Theresa May’s government for their reaction to the Grenfell tragedy, as well as highlighting injustice and institutional racism.

As if that wasn’t enough, off came the t-shirt and on came the rain, for an energetic run of Big For Your Boots. Incredible stuff, which even won praise from then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Joss Stone raises eyebrows with her comedy routine... and accent (2007)

 

Admittedly, Joss Stone had been off the scene for a little while by the time she hit the stage to present Best British Male at the 2007 Brits, but last time we checked, she was from Devon, not the East Coast of America?

The singer also created a stir for her tribute to Robbie Williams, as well as her joke about Russell Brand’s past rehab stint.

Sharon Osbourne vs. Vic Reeves (2008)

 

She’d been (surprisingly) on her best behaviour all night, but Sharon Osbourne lost her patience when Vic Reeves struggled with the autocue while presenting the biggest award of the night.

Despite being blasted as a “pisshead” and a “drunk bastard”, Vic later insisted he hadn’t been drinking.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Arctic Monkeys went on to hit out at the Brits school in their acceptance speech immediately afterwards, though this was cut from the final broadcast.

Peter Kay vs. Liam Gallagher (2010)

 

Britain’s favourite stand-up comedian Peter Kay might seem like a surprising choice to host the Brits, but he actually wound up being responsible for one of the ceremony’s most rock ‘n’ roll moments of the past decade.

When Liam Gallagher defiantly threw his Brit into the crowd - having already snubbed brother Noel in his acceptance speech - the Phoenix Nights star put him down with a simple “what a knobhead”.

Not the wittiest of lines, admittedly, but effective all the same.

John Prescott gets a soaking (1998)

PA

Proving that politics and pop aren’t always the best companions, when then Labour Cabinet Minister attended the 1998 bash, indie band Chumbawamba thought they’d let him know exactly how they felt about him getting an invite by throwing a bucket of iced water over the MP.

Despite the fact the record label apologised, the band were unrepentant, saying: “If John Prescott has the nerve to turn up at events like the Brit Awards in a vain attempt to make Labour seem cool and trendy, then he deserves all we can throw at him.”

Alex Turner gets some stuff off his chest (2014)

 

When Arctic Monkeys won Best Album in 2014, frontman Alex Turner left us all baffled with his odd “that rock and roll, eh?” acceptable speech.

This ended in him telling Brits bosses, “invoice me for the microphone,” before dropping it on the floor and walking off.

Rock and, indeed, roll.

Belle And Sebastian’s win confuses everyone (1999)

 

First off, underdogs Belle and Sebastian had released a total of three albums when they were announced as the winners of Best British Newcomer in 1999, beating actual newcomers Steps, who had been heavily tipped for the award.

Their confusing victory led the national press to accuse them of rigging the vote in their favour by encouraging university students to vote online (which was still a fairly radical idea in 1999), though they insisted at the time this was not the case.

Brandon Block vs. Ronnie Wood (2000)

 

That same year Robbie took on Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood was presenting Best Soundtrack when suddenly he was interrupted by confused DJ (and future Celebrity Big Brother walker) Brandon Block, who had been jokingly informed by his friends that he’d won an award.

After Ronnie called him a “c***” for interrupting, the two squared up, drinks were thrown and security were called.

It was all super awks, to be honest.

Russell Brand divides viewers (2007)

ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

He was always going to be a controversial choice, but Russell Brand’s jokes about the war in Iraq and the queen’s (his words) “naughty bits” definitely weren’t for everyone, sparking more than 300 Ofcom complaints.

It didn’t exactly hurt his career, though, and a year later he was brought in to host the MTV VMAs, which he did for two consecutive years, launching his profile in the States.

Sadie Pinn crashes Ant and Dec’s presenting spot (2016)

 

Despite the model’s sudden appearance – and her eye-catching outfit – the boys barely broke a sweat. Such pros.

Harry Styles almost misses One Direction’s Global Success Award (2014)

 

In 2013, the Brits faced a backlash for the introduction of the Global Success award, which some suggested was just a ploy to give One Direction a prize on the night.

A year later, they won in the same category for a second time, though most of their acceptance speech was conducted as a four-piece, as Harry Styles was preoccupied in the lavatory at the time.

Björk’s acceptance speech is pure Björk (1998)

 

After being swung around by Alexander McQueen, Best International Female winner Björk told the crowd: “I am... grate...ful... grape... fruit.”

Adorable.

Andy Bell makes a subtle protest (1989)

 

After Erasure won Best British Group, frontman Andy Bell kissed presenter Boy George on the cheek, a subtle move by today’s standards, but one that he claimed was a deliberate action against Section 28, which had been introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s government the previous year.

Jack Whitehall reminds us what the Brits should be about (2018)

 

In the 2010s, the Brit Awards played it safe with its hosts, which ranged from James Corden to Ant and Dec, finally ending up with Dermot O’Leary and Emma Willis.

We’ll admit we didn’t exactly have high hopes when Jack Whitehall was announced, but after a decade of chumminess, it was so refreshing to have a host who would poke fun at the famous nominees, while successfully managing not to cross the line into nastiness.

Madonna falls down some stairs and promptly picks herself back up again (2015)

 

Will we ever be able to watch this without cringing? Probably not, no.

Photo gallery 14 Surprising Brit Awards Winners See Gallery