Brit Awards: New home and format makes The Brits a hit

After 13 years at Earls Court the globally renowned celebration of music packed its bags and moved across town, into the welcoming arms of The O2.

Brit Awards: New home and format makes The Brits a hit
Brit Awards: New home and format makes The Brits a hit

What was the event?
Arguably one of the most anticipated events on the music calendar, the Brit Awards celebrated the music scene's finest in a new home, The O2. A heady mix of record company gurus from companies such as EMI and Universal, and artistes ranging from Plan B to Take That, partied the night away.

How was the brief met?
With the annual ceremony having spent 13 years at Earls Court, the pressure on the organisers to make it work at The O2 was huge. Rising to the occasion like a Jimmy Somerville falsetto, the venue did not disappoint, with a new format for the event.

In its previous home, guests would enjoy dinner and the awards ceremony in one space. At The O2, some 2,000 of them were directed into the Live Quarter space where a temporary venue, erected by Arena Structures, housed a champagne reception and three-course dinner created by Payne and Gunter.

With their stomachs full and their vocal chords loose, the diners were shepherded into the main arena, where they were seated at tables to the left, right or directly in front of the catwalk-style stage.

Thanks to them and the other 18,000 guests seated in the arena, along with the overflowing corporate boxes, the atmosphere was electric as opening act Take That came on to the stage. They were followed by an abundance of quality bands and artistes, ranging from Mumford & Sons to Adele, while Gavin and Stacey star James Corden compered the event.

Corden presented different links from various parts of the venue, so that all the guests would feel as if they were part of the action and the live television broadcast.

When the ceremony had finished, the lucky 2,000 guests were directed back to the temporary structure for the official after-party. It had been given a 'British Street Party' theme, in homage to the forthcoming royal wedding, and elements included a Victorian bandstand - with two adjacent bars created from red Routemaster buses - a dress-up room full of Victorian-style attire, and an old-fashioned sweetshop and bakery.

What was good?
Everyone's attention was focused on how the event would perform in its new home, and it must be said that it passed with flying colours. A number of the spaces in the venue were utilised so guests could seamlessly flow between the dinner, ceremony and after-party without a hitch. The latter event also attracted more guests than is normally the case with the Brits.

What was bad?
If anything, it was the disappointing final act. After a night of quality performances, Cee-Lo Green's final song came as something of a let-down for the crowd, who left in droves for the party.

Event organiser: Maggie Crowe, Event director, BAL

Arena Structures,, (01480) 468888
Blackout,, (020) 8687 8400
Britannia Row Productions,, (020) 8877 3949
The O2,, (020) 8463 2149


- What was the biggest challenge?

Each performance has its own challenges, and each is interwoven into the overall look and feel of the show. This, coupled with making the event run smoothly for live TV, brings its own set of challenges.

- What do you think you would do differently next time?

Have a look at the timing issues: the event and venue were up against the Grammy Awards, which took place in the US two days before our show.

- What did the event achieve?

It was acclaimed as a resounding success, which we are extremely proud of. The Brits was the biggest event we have ever hosted here at The 02, and a phenomenal success for all the artistes involved.


- What was good?

It was a great, adaptable set. Sitting quite close to the stage, I could see the balance of the production format between live TV and the live show.

- What was bad?

I was bemused to see Boris Becker present an award.

- How did you hear about the event?

Even someone as uncool as me has heard of the Brits.

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