Double Brit wins for Sheeran, Smith as Madonna tumbles

Pop group Take That performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Pop group Take That performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
British actor Orlando Bloom arrives for the BRIT Awards ceremony at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, Britain, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
British actor Orlando Bloom arrives for the BRIT Awards ceremony at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, Britain, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
Kim Kardashian poses for a selfie with presenters Ant and Dec at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Kim Kardashian poses for a selfie with presenters Ant and Dec at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Ed Sheeran arrives for the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Ed Sheeran arrives for the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Paloma Faith performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Paloma Faith performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Mike Kerr (left) of Royal Blood celebrates winning the British Group award presented to him by Jimmy Page at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Mike Kerr (left) of Royal Blood celebrates winning the British Group award presented to him by Jimmy Page at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Former Spice Girls Melanie Chisholm (left, aka Sporty Spice) and Emma Bunton (aka Baby Spice) arrive for the BRIT Awards ceremony at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, Britain, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
Former Spice Girls Melanie Chisholm (left, aka Sporty Spice) and Emma Bunton (aka Baby Spice) arrive for the BRIT Awards ceremony at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, Britain, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: EPA
Kanye West performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Kanye West performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Taylor Swift performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Taylor Swift performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Taylor Swift poses for selfies with fans as she arrives for the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Taylor Swift poses for selfies with fans as she arrives for the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
US singer Taylor Swift poses on the red carpet to attend the BRIT Awards 2015 in London on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
US singer Taylor Swift poses on the red carpet to attend the BRIT Awards 2015 in London on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
US singer Taylor Swift poses with her International Female Solo Artist award at the Brit Awards 2015 in London on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
US singer Taylor Swift poses with her International Female Solo Artist award at the Brit Awards 2015 in London on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP 
Madonna struggles with her cape after falling during her performance at the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Madonna struggles with her cape after falling during her performance at the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Madonna falls during her performance at the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Madonna falls during her performance at the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Madonna falls during her performance at the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Singer Madonna falls during her performance at the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Madonna performs at the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Madonna performs at the Brit music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, on Feb 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Madonna performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, February 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Madonna performs at the BRIT music awards at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, February 25, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - British singers Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith took two prizes each at a glittering Brit Awards on Wednesday marred by a mishap that saw Madonna dragged to the ground by her cape.

Sheeran won British male solo artist and album of the year for X, while 22-year-old Londoner Smith won British breakthrough act and global success award after his debut album In The Lonely Hour won worldwide acclaim.

"This is incredible, I really didn't expect this," Smith told the crowd, while Sheeran called it a great night for British music that defied those who said "selling records is dead".

As pop veteran Madonna took to the stage flanked by muscled male dancers wearing horns, her long black cape caught and dragged her down a set of stage steps in a dramatic fall.

But the 56-year-old gamely shrugged off the mishap, removing the cape and giving a stomping performance of Living For Love - a retort to a menopause joke about her from comic Jimmy Carr that drew booing earlier in the night.

The ceremony kicked off with a pitch-perfect rendition of Blank Space by country music sweetheart turned pop sensation Taylor Swift, who won the international female solo artist award.

"I've been coming to England and playing shows for eight years and this is my first award. I'm so happy," Swift said as she accepted the prize - Britain's version of a Grammy.

She paid tribute to Sheeran, saying "Honestly I know I wouldn't be up here if it wasn't for one of my best friends who took me to pubs and taught me to make a good cup of tea and taught me everything I know about the UK." Smith, who had led nominations on the night, gave a soulful performance of his runaway hit "Stay with Me", which was named Song of the Year at the Grammys in Los Angeles earlier this month.

'Offensive language'

Rap star Kanye West was welcomed to the stage by his wife, television personality Kim Kardashian wearing a net-fronted black outfit, before he performed in front of a billowing tower of flame.

But the showcase of his new track All Day caused confusion among television viewers at home as much of it was muted in an attempt by broadcaster ITV to silence its repeated use of the N-word.

British television actress Hetti Bywater responded by tweeting "Kanye, can you please stop my TV from muting and just stop with the offensive language, cheers".

Pop veterans Take That also performed at the event, along with rock duo Royal Blood, who revealed they had formed in 2013 just for fun as they accepted the award for British group.

Best British single went to Mark Ronson for Uptown Funk, and the DJ paid tribute to the hit's Hawaiian singer Bruno Mars as he accepted the gong, telling the crowd "I don't get to stand up on these stages that often".

London singer Paloma Faith made an emotional speech as she accepted the award for British female solo artist, saying it had taken 14 years to achieve and dedicating it to "all the underdogs and all the grafters that work bloody hard".

World-conquering British-Irish boy band One Direction scooped British artist video of the year for You & I, filmed on a windswept ocean pier, a prize accepted by producer Simon Cowell on their behalf.

US singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams' hit Happy rang out as he was named international male solo artist, and he sent his thanks in a video message telling the crowd it "means the world".