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Sunday 17 December 2017

Reversed decline - and now a fall

John Prescott pictured after being soaked by a member of Chumbawamba
John Prescott pictured after being soaked by a member of Chumbawamba

The Brit Awards used to be a byword for the perils of live television with presenters fumbling their lines, punches thrown on stage and chaos permanently waiting in the wings.

It is a much more professional production these days - much to the disgust of some critics who say it has lost its appeal.

But this year's ceremony was perhaps the most controversial since 2012 after Madonna fell backwards off the stage and Kanye West's performance was muted in parts by ITV.

The Queen of Pop appeared to fumble with her red cloaked costume before she was dragged backwards down three steps on to the floor.

As her shocked backing dancers looked on she got straight back to her feet to go on with the show.

There was also widespread comment on social media after ITV muted parts of Kanye West's performance earlier in the evening due to swearing.

Until now the most recent Brits controversy was in 2012 when host James Corden had to cut short Adele's winner's speech to keep to the show's schedule.

But it was not always like that - the 2007 show was the first time it was televised live in a decade and ITV received hundreds of complaints after host Russell Brand joked about the ''friendly fire'' death of a British soldier.

A year later Sharon and Ozzy Osbourne hosted, assisted by their children Kelly and Jack, and the famously foul-mouthed family were the model of decorum until comedian Vic Reeves arrived on stage.

His quip about Kylie Minogue, saying she was ''all right, a bit of work there and she will be okay'', was met with silence.

Reeves appeared to forget which award he was presenting, prompting Sharon Osbourne to shout: ''Shut up, you're pissed, piss off, you bastard.''

Perhaps the most spectacular failure as hosts were Mick Fleetwood and Sam Fox, who stumbled their way through the 1989 ceremony in a perfect storm of fluffed lines and missed cues.

The show's regular ingredients of rock stars, plenty of booze and massive egos means chaos is never far away.

In 1992 The KLF, who were named best band, hatched a plan to throw buckets of blood at the audience.

They abandoned this on the advice of lawyers and instead fired blank rounds from a machine gun at spectators before leaving the stage with the message ''KLF have left the music industry''.

Later that evening they dumped a dead sheep at the official post-awards dinner.

Two years later, the band - renamed the K Foundation - attempted to burn £1 million on a remote Scottish island.

It was Britpop that brought the Brits their most famous night of controversy in 1996, when Pulp singer Jarvis Cocker stormed the stage as Michael Jackson performed his Earth Song accompanied by a chorus of children.

Cocker was grabbed by security and arrested, but not before wiggling his backside at the audience.

Jackson said he felt ''sickened, saddened, shocked, upset, cheated and angry'' at the ''disgusting and cowardly'' stage invasion.

But after he was released from custody at 3am, Cocker stood by his protest, saying: ''My actions were a form of protest at the way Michael Jackson sees himself as some Christ-like figure with the power of healing.''

The lanky frontman accused the music industry of indulging Jackson's fantasies, ''even though they know it's a bit sick''.

He told Chris Evans's now-defunct Channel 4 show TFI Friday that comedian Bob Mortimer, a qualified solicitor, intervened with police on his behalf.

''Bob Mortimer used to work for Peckham Council in the legal department so he offered to speak in my defence and deal with the legal aspects of the case,'' he said.

''All the policemen kept asking him for his autograph.''

At the same ceremony, Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher berated INXS singer Michael Hutchence - who was presenting the Manchester band with an award - saying ''has-beens shouldn't be giving awards to gonna-bes''.

In 1998, Danbert Nobacon, of the band Chumbawamba, almost got a Tubthumping after throwing a bucket of iced water at deputy prime minister and former amateur boxer John Prescott.

Unsurprisingly, Gallagher featured in another on-stage spat in 2000, when Robbie Williams upped the ante in their feud. After collecting an award, the former Take That singer challenged the Oasis frontman to a televised boxing match for £100,000.

At the same ceremony, a clearly well-refreshed DJ Brandon Block mistakenly went up to the stage to collect an award while Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood was trying to present a gong.

The pair squared up to each other and traded insults before Wood threw a glass of water into Block's face.

Press Association

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