Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish lead early winners at female-dominated Brit Awards

Little Mix, Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish were among the early winners at a female-dominated Brit Awards.

The event, which featured an audience of 4,000 people, marked the return of live music to London’s O2 Arena after more than a year.

Taking place as part of the Government’s live events pilot scheme, 2,500 tickets were gifted to key workers from the Greater London area, many of whom wore blue.

Brit Awards 2021
Coldplay perform their new single Higher Power at the Brit Awards (Paul Dugdale/PA)

Jack Whitehall kicked off the event with a sketch featuring Line Of Duty stars Vicky McClure and Martin Compston, as well as social media sensation Jackie Weaver, who went viral with her contributions to a parish council meeting.

Coldplay delivered a performance of their new single Higher Power from a pontoon on the River Thames, surrounded by hologram dancers and against a backdrop of purple and orange fireworks.

Billie Eilish saw off competition from artists including Cardi B and Taylor Swift to win the international female solo artist gong, while Arlo Parks said it was her “dream to true” to be named breakthrough artist.

The Brit Awards 2021 – Show – London
Little Mix accept the award for best British group (Ian West/PA)

Little Mix made history as the first female group to win the best British group prize.

The group – Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards – thanked former bandmate Jesy Nelson and girl groups including Spice Girls who paved the way.

Dua Lipa took home the female solo artist Brit for a second time and called on Boris Johnson improve pay for NHS workers.

Afrobeats star J Hus also won the male solo artist Brit Award.

Audience members attending the indoor ceremony were not socially distanced or required to wear face coverings once seated.

However, they needed proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue and will be required to provide details to NHS Test and Trace and follow Government guidance while travelling.

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Ahead of the ceremony, Lipa paid tribute to the late singer Amy Winehouse on the red carpet.

She arrived at the venue in a golden dress with a beehive hairdo in an apparent nod to Winehouse, who died in 2011.

The singer, who is up for three awards, said she was “very excited” to be at the ceremony.

Olivia Rodrigo, who scored a number one earlier this year with Drivers License, said it is her first time in the UK and she has “always wanted to come”.

“It is just such a whirlwind. I feel so lucky,” she said.

The ceremony continues on ITV.