Arctic Monkeys scoop two Brits but shun 'mainstream' show

They began life as an internet phenomenon that took the music industry by storm with the fastest-selling debut album in British music history.

Last night they cemented their reputation as British pop successes by scooping two of the music industry's most coveted accolades.

The Arctic Monkeys were double winners at the Brit awards, along with US band The Killers. But the Sheffield quartet, who have always been ambivalent to mainstream fame, did not appear. Instead, they made their two acceptance speeches by recorded video link inexplicably dressed as characters from The Wizard of Oz and as The Village People for the Best British Group and Best Album respectively.

The American anglophile quartet The Killers were more forthcoming in their live acceptance speech saying the honour of recognition at the Brit awards was "a dream come true". They performed their hit single " When You Were Young" at the glittering ceremony at London's Earls Court.

Meanwhile, upcoming diva Amy Winehouse received a standing ovation as she took the Best British Female accolade, leaving the hotly-tipped Lily Allen to go home empty-handed despite being nominated for four awards. The Best British Female category has been one of the strongest this year, with another contender, Corinne Bailey Rae, also having been nominated for four awards.

Winehouse had herself been nominated twice in 2004 for her debut album Frank but walked away empty-handed then. Yesterday she won the prize for her second album Back to Black.

Earlier in the night the host, Radio 2 presenter Russell Brand, described Winehouse as someone "whose surname increasingly sounds like a description of her liver". Introducing her on stage later, he said she had "one of the best voices on our planet ­ when she's singing ­ but when she's talking she sounds like a cab driver".

Contrary to that description her acceptance speech was brief and demure. "I'm just glad my mum and dad are here,'' she said.

For the first time since 1989 the Brits were broadcast live on ITV1 to give them some much-needed edginess after critics had complained they had become stale. To that end, Brand was installed as host, and he did not disappoint. Within minutes, he had struck out at the Tory leader, David Cameron. Opening the show he said: "We are here to celebrate those unsung heroes of music, millionaire music executives." He then aimed his comments at the guests and nominees in the room saying: "With some of these characters in the room there could be chaos."

Mr Cameron took a pasting over the recent revelation that he smoked cannabis at Eton. "What worries me is that he had to dress up as a schoolboy to do it," said Brand. His experience should serve as a warning to other children, he continued. "Don't take drugs because you might become leader of the Tories."

Other winners of the night included the Devon trio Muse, the second time they have won the award. James Morrison was named the winner in the Best British Male category.

But it was Robbie Williams's absence that overshadowed the night's triumph. Although he has not won a Brit Award since 2003 ­ and missed out on the night in the Live Act category ­ he was not forgotten. Appearing on stage to present the best male category the singer Joss Stone said: "Big love to Robbie Williams. He is strong and he is inspiring.'' And Brand, himself a reformed drug addict, referred fondly to Williams's medicine cabinet.

To rub salt in Williams's wounds, his one-time band members from Take That, who made an unlikely comeback after a decade with a sell-out single " Patience" last year, won the best single award and also a standing ovation for their No 1 chart success. Their live performance of the song had managed to break the sang froid of the most hardened musical executives, who danced in the aisle to the band at London's Earls Court.

Brit Awards winners

BEST BRITISH MALE

James Morrison

BEST BRITISH FEMALE

Amy Winehouse

BEST BRITISH BAND

The Arctic Monkeys

BEST BRITISH SINGLE

Take That

BEST BRITISH BREAKTHROUGH ACT

The Fratellis

BEST BRITISH LIVE ACT

Muse

BEST INTERNATIONAL MALE

Justin Timberlake

BEST INTERNATIONAL FEMALE

Nelly Furtado

BEST INTERNATIONAL GROUP

The Killers

BEST INTERNATIONAL BREAKTHROUGH ACT

Orson

OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO MUSIC

Oasis

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