NHS workers who will be in the audience at tonight’s Brit Awards said today they were thrilled to be attending because “it feels like you are being appreciated”.
Some 2,500 key workers have won ballot tickets to attend the ceremony at the O2, which is staging its first live music show in more than a year.
An audience of 4,000 will be at the ceremony, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, as part of the Government’s live events pilot scheme.
They will include intensive care staff nurse Natasha Callender, 38, who told how her ward “changed overnight” when the pandemic hit the UK in March last year and described how she often thought the horrors of Covid-19 “would never end”.
Ms Callender, who works at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, said the fact NHS workers had been offered tickets was “nice”.
“It feels like you are appreciated by being offered something amazing like this,” she said. “Sometimes it feels like this will never end. But for one night, I cannot wait to go and do something different at the Brits.”
Other attendees include NHS 111 call handler Ella Thomas, 25, from Battersea, who took the job after her work in musical theatre stopped and has been working night shifts to help the London Ambulance Service, and firefighter Amie Keenan, 31, from Greenwich, who retrained to drive ambulances during the height of the pandemic.
Stars will also attend The Brit Awards at London’s O2 Arena tonight, marking the first live music show at the venue in more than a year.
Coldplay will open the show with a live performance from a pontoon on the River Thames.
Rap duo Young T & Bugsey, Dua Lipa, Arlo Parks, Celeste, and DJ and producer Joel Corry are among the nominees this year, with the acts up for three awards.
Jessie Ware, dance music duo Bicep and rappers AJ Tracey, J Hus and Headie One all scored two nominations apiece.
Pop star Rag ‘n’ Bone man told the BBC it would be "really emotional" to play to fans for the first time in over a year.
"I’m not sure that I’m completely mentally prepared for it, but I’ll give it my all," said the star, who’ll be joined on stage by the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Choir.
Tuesday’s show will also see Taylor Swift honoured with the global icon Brit Award, becoming the first female artist to win the prize.
She is being acknowledged for "her immense impact on music across the world and incredible repertoire and achievements to date", according to organisers.
The ceremony, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, will be a part of the Government’s live events pilot scheme, with 4,000 people in the audience and 2,500 tickets gifted to key workers from the Greater London area.
Audience members attending the ceremony will not be socially distanced or required to wear face coverings once seated.
However, they will need proof of a negative lateral flow test result to enter the venue and will be expected to provide details to NHS Test and Trace and follow Government guidance while travelling.
Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said: "Music has been a great source of comfort and connection during the pandemic.
"Tonight we’ll bring the industry back together with 2,500 key workers to celebrate another year of brilliant British music and look ahead to the return of fans to live performances."
"While venues have been closed, we helped the live music sector with £250 million in grants from our Culture Recovery Fund going to more than 2,000 organisations.
"But now we’re preparing to restart live performances and as part of the Events Research Programme, this year’s Brits will test how we can welcome back bigger crowds to enjoy more fantastic performances safely."
How do I watch the Brit Awards?
The ceremony will air live on ITV and ITV Hub from 8pm, while Chelcee Grimes and Arielle Free will host the live stream on the Brits YouTube page.