ITV delays 'News at Ten' for live debut of Popstars

The band from the television show
Popstars will make its live debut tonight in a "surprise" performance at the Brit Awards. It will be broadcast to the nation tomorrow.

The band from the television show Popstars will make its live debut tonight in a "surprise" performance at the Brit Awards. It will be broadcast to the nation tomorrow.

And in an eccentric show of priorities, ITV will delay the News at Ten by several minutes tomorrow night so that the band's performance can be seen by the nation.

When ITV agreed to bring back News at Ten because of a ruling by the television regulators, network chiefs said that the news might very occasionally be delayed if an important national event, or a top film or drama was being broadcast. But it was not envisaged that the News at Ten would be delayed so that ITV could plug its manufactured pop group.

It is understood that the inclusion of the Popstars band, Hear Say, in the Brits, was a last-minute decision and followed intensive lobbying from LWT, which has been running the series. Brit Award organisers refused to alter the timing of the one-hour televised highlights of the awards ceremony it had planned.

ITV agreed to allow the show to over-run, so that the Popstars band's performance would be seen on national television, and that record sales of its forthcoming single and album could be maximised. In the spirit of manufactured pop, Hear Say will make its surprise appearance on the podium, after the presenters Ant and Dec have challenged the band's members to show they can sing. Suddenly, the sound of a backing track will emerge and the group will perform.

As revealed in The Independent on Saturday, Craig David has not won any Brit awards, although he was nominated for four. That has proved the shock of rock and pop's most prestigious awards, which are shown around the world.

But more shocks could be in store with the rapper Eminem due to perform. There will also be a performance by U2, who will receive the top award of the evening. The Irish group is being hailed as the first non-British band to win the award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music - though Fleetwood Mac, a previous winner, had a line-up as full of Americans as Brits. Tony Wadsworth, the chairman of the Brits committee, said U2 "signed their deal in the UK and they've always been an integral part of British music".

In an interview yesterday, U2's lead singer, Bono, gave an unusual definition of being Irish. He said of his group: "We've never been cool, we're hot. Irish people are Italians who can't dress, Jamaicans who can't dance."

He also described how he had become allergic to salicylates, acids in wine. He said: "That means I lose my voice or I fall asleep in the strangest places... and I get red eyes, which is one of the reasons I wear glasses."

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