It's time the Brit Awards stopped caring about who looks good on ITV

Plus: You should pick up the mantel on book prizes, Kate and no, Jennifer Saunders, women didn't like your show either

Share

A splendid time was had by all, including me, at the Brits on Wednesday. It was the usual high-energy celebration of the best of British pop, via performances by Emeli Sandé and Muse, plus a bit of transatlantic action. And yet I felt, as most years, something missing.

This is best exemplified by the Lifetime Achievement Award. This year it wasn't given at all. Part of the reason was a fine one, that the 20th anniversary of the charity War Child deserved a special award instead. But another part of the reason is that the organisers believe they have pretty much run out of lifetime achievers. Last year they honoured Britpop, with the award going to Blur. In the same vein, perhaps Pulp might get it next year, as Oasis have already received the award. After that they could be stuck as it's a bit too soon to talk in terms of lifetime for the likes of Adele or Arctic Monkeys.

But, of course, they haven't really run out of lifers. There are those little known garage bands Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, who seem to have been somehow overlooked, as have, curiously, Roxy Music, even while the likes of The Beatles and Elton John have won it twice. How many lifetimes have they had? Then there's one of the greatest British songwriters ever, Ray Davies of The Kinks, likewise ignored, though singer Tom Jones of a similar vintage is among the lifetime achievers. The reason, I am quite sure, is that the winners (like all Brits winners) have to be ITV Prime-Time friendly. And, probably for this same reason, the Brits organisers would not in a million years choose someone like Richard Thompson who, from his early days with Fairport Convention and throughout his challenging and boundary-breaking solo career, has been a major force in British music.

No more would the organisers choose another folk hero Martin Carthy, despite his gong from the Queen, or massively influential bluesman John Mayall, electric folk masters Steeleye Span and their singer Maddy Prior or producer, synth pioneer and avant-garde curator Brian Eno, or Sixties giants Cream. Prime Time, any of them? I don't think so. Pioneers in British music, yes. There are many more.

As with the lifetime achievers, so with the awards themselves. They celebrate a part of the British music scene. But let's stop pretending that what we saw on Wednesday and what we see every year, for all the adulation, is the whole scene. There's a wealth of British music out there, a spectrum that the record companies that run the Brits and their ITV colleagues are nervous of exploring or rewarding. As a partial celebration of British music, Wednesday night was fun. But partial it certainly was.

You should pick up the Mantel, Kate

So how should the Duchess of Cambridge respond to Booker Prize-winner Hilary Mantel's speech? Ms Mantel, albeit in a rather misunderstood and misinterpreted speech, compared the Duchess to a "shop-window mannequin" and said she was "gloss varnished" with a "plastic smile". No Anne Boleyn, she. My advice to Kate is to show her breadth of interests by making a speech bemoaning the current state of literary awards and their unimaginative homogeneity, where Costas and Bookers, Critics Circle and even Specsavers Book of the Year, seem unable to find prize-worthy books in the literary world beyond one author. Naming no names, of course.

No, Jennifer, women didn't like your show either

Jennifer Saunders, who wrote the script for the much panned Spice Girls musical Viva Forever!, kept her silence after the show's opening last December, but has now broken it, saying the poor reviews were written by "five middle-aged men" who could hardly have been expected to enjoy the show. Ah, those middle-aged men – it's so easy to blame them rather than wonder if there could have been actual failings in the script. But I fear that Jennifer may have only seen some of the reviews, the middle-aged male ones, so I'm happy to give her a fuller picture. She may have missed The Observer's Miranda Sawyer (gender female) who wrote: "There is very little to recommend this show." Perhaps she does not log on to the Huffington Post, where Caroline Flint (gender female) declared: "The show only comes to life after it finishes." And I suspect she didn't get her weekly copy of The Stage, where Lisa Martland (gender female) concluded: "One of the biggest disappointments is Jennifer Saunders' rather trite book." Damning verdicts, and not a middle-aged chap in sight.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nigel Farage has urged supporters to buy Mike Read's Ukip Calypso song and push it up to the No 1 spot  

Mike Read’s Ukip calypso is mesmerisingly atrocious — but it's not racist

Matthew Norman
Shirley Shackleton, wife of late journalist Gregory Shackleton, sits next to the grave of the 'Balibo Five' in Jakarta, in 2010  

Letter from Asia: The battle for the truth behind five journalists’ deaths in Indonesia

Andrew Buncombe
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album