The Brit Awards, often simply called The BRITs, are the British Phonographic Industry's annual pop music awards which, in more recent times, have more reflected the tastes of the record-buying public than of the music industry itself, with an artist needing to prove popular and chart-topping before they are rewarded.
The name was originally a shortened form of British or Britannia, but has subsequently become a "backronym" for British Record Industry Trust.
The Brit Awards are broadcast sporadically in South Africa on M-Net, although not annually.
About the Awards
The awards began in 1977 under the auspices of the BPI, the British record industry's trade association. The last BPI Awards show took place at the Albert Hall and was the first prime-time TV event.
In 1989 they were renamed the Britannia Awards, or BRIT Awards.
BRIT is also an acronym for the British Record Industry Trust Show - the Trust supports youngsters in the arts and education mainly at The BRIT School in London.
Strong music industry sponsorship and involvement mean that awards are given without much democratic process and, many suspect, for strongly commercial reasons. These are awards given by the music industry to the music industry. Robbie Williams pointed this out accepting an award a few years back.
More recently, the awards have more reflected the tastes of the record-buying public, with an artist needing to prove popular and chart-topping before they are rewarded.
The BRIT Awards used to be broadcast live until 1989, when Samantha Fox and Mick Fleetwood hosted a shambolic show in which just about everything went wrong - lines were fluffed, bands mis-cued, and airtime filled with embarrassing silence.
After this the show was recorded, and broadcast the following night, part of a revamp by Jonathan King for 1990 whose actions also included naming them the BRITs, hosting the show in 1987 - the most successful previous show - and releasing a megamix of British dance acts including S'Express and A Guy Called Gerald called BRITs 1990.
He also managed to get Margaret Thatcher to croon How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?
King subsequently went on to revamp A Song for Europe and won the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK in 1997, in which year the BPI awarded him their Man of the Year accolade.
Pre-recording proved to be a good idea when, during a Michael Jackson performance in 1996, Jarvis Cocker from the band Pulp invaded the stage in an impromptu protest at Jackson's 'messianic' performance.
There have been many such notable instances, including several UK politicians presenting awards and being heckled (and, in the case of John Prescott, having water thrown over him, at the 1998 awards, by Chumbawamba vocalist Danbert Nobacon) and a remarkable performance by The KLF in 1992.