We asked a body language expert to analyse Cheryl and Liam Payne's behaviour at the Brits
Their appearance was the talk of the night.
After reports of an impending split, Cheryl and Liam Payne put an end to the rumours with a loved-up, if not at times awkward, turn at the Brits. It was clear the couple wanted to let everyone know their relationship is just fine, which included arriving hand in hand to London's O2 Arena on Wednesday night and during their exchange with host Jack Whitehall during the show.
Author of The Body Language Bible: The Hidden Meaning Behind People's Gestures and Expressions, and body language expert Judi James tells Independent.ie Style that their appearance was one of unity and Cheryl was clear in showing her support for her other half to the public. Liam shared behind the scenes footage of him posing with his girlfriend backstage, where he was most at ease, away from the glare of any other cameras but his own.
"Cheryl was clearly Team Liam for the night, throwing him some adoring upward gazes and even whispering intimately into his ear as they stood together," she explains. "Backstage we got shots of Cheryl reclining queen bee-style on a sofa with her legs draped across Liam's lap as she placed one arm along the back of the chair and fixed him with a challenging-looking stare.
It was the tell-tale moment while speaking with Whitehall that made them both let their guard down, our of sheer embarassment. The host asked, "You’re performing later, you’re doing a performance from the Fifty Shades movie, it sounds pretty saucy – is there a safe word?"
Payne pointed at Cheryl and joked: "She knows that."
Cheryl then leaned into the microphone and said that the safe word is "don’t stop".
"Underneath all the signs of affection though there was some incongruent signaling that produced some more awkward looks and even some signals of embarrassment, especially during their 'interview' with comedian Jack Whitehall," Judi explains.
"This was an awkward-looking moment with Liam sitting slightly slumped and leaning away from the show's host before passing the more tricky questions onto Cheryl.
"She sat upright at the table wearing a slightly rigid-looking smile and with her hands fiddling and finger-picking in what looked like a self-comfort ritual. Her hands got higher at one point in a barrier gesture although when she made her 50 Shades joke it was Liam who raised his hand to his chest in a barrier gesture and leaned back from her in open-mouthed surprise."
The couple's appearance last night drew parallels to their first public appearance as a couple, when they hit the red carpet at the Global Gift Gala in Paris in 2016, and Liam seemingly looked to Cheryl in how to best handle the situation.
"Cheryl face-checked a less assured-looking Liam, whose steepled brows and later sucked-in lips suggested inner tension," Judy says. "Some of their smiles looked stretched although the whispering from Cheryl helped create intimate-looking moments while also helping Liam to produce an open-mouthed laugh."
You can follow Jude on Twitter, here at @thejudijames