Little Mix and Taylor Swift made history at the 2021 Brit Awards as the first female artists to win the Best British Band and Global Icon awards respectively.

Female artists were centre stage at this year's Brit Awards, which heralded the return of live music events in the UK.

Dua Lipa was the big winner on the night taking home the Best Female Solo Artist award and the coveted Best Album award.

She used her first speech to call for a pay rise for NHS workers and her second to demand a posthumous bravery award for 20-year-old Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole, who recently died after jumping into the River Thames to save a woman

Little Mix, who have been together for ten years, became the first female band to win the Best British Band award.

During their speech, the group, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards, thanked former bandmate Jesy Nelson, who quit in December after saying the high-profile role had "taken a toll" on her mental health.

They also paid tribute to the Spice Girls, Sugababes and Girls Aloud during their acceptance speech declaring that they should have previously received the award.

Taylor Swift was presented with the Global Icon Award, the first woman to be awarded the prize, and delivered a speech to the budding artists in the room.

Speaking about the pressures of the music industry, she said: "You can't let that crush you, you have to let it fuel you because we live in a world where anyone has the right to say anything that they want about you at any time but just please remember that you have the right to prove them wrong."

Arlo Parks scooped the Breakthrough Artist award

Arlo Parks, US rockers Haim and Billie Eilish were also among the acts who took home gongs at the London venue on Tuesday night.

The event, which featured an audience of 4,000 people, took place as part of the British government's live events pilot scheme and 2,500 tickets were gifted to key workers from the Greater London area, many of whom wore blue.

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Little Mix make Brit Awards history as the first female band to win Best British Band
All the winners from the Brit Awards 2021
Brit Awards 2021 in pictures

The Brits’ voting academy underwent a major overhaul in 2017 to make it more gender-balanced and diverse, with hundreds of new members invited to join the pool.

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 also 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.

Coldplay performed on a pontoon on the River Thames

Billie Eilish saw off competition from artists including Cardi B and Swift to win the International Female Solo Artist gong, while Parks said it was her "dream come true" to be named breakthrough artist.

Haim beat acts including Run The Jewels and BTS to win the International Group award.

Harry Styles was awarded the Best British Single gong for Watermelon Sugar

Elsewhere, the British Single award went to Harry Styles for Watermelon Sugar and J Hus was named Best Male Solo Artist.

Years And Years frontman Olly Alexander and Elton John performed a version of the Pet Shop Boys’ 1980s' hit It’s A Sin, which is also the Channel 4 TV series of the same name, starring Alexander.

Olly Alexander performed It's A Sin with Elton John

The pair were joined on stage by drag queens while Elton’s husband David Furnish delivered an introduction highlighting the work of the Elton John Aids Foundation.

The night also featured performances from Rag’n’Bone Man and P!nk with the Lewisham & Greenwich NHS Choir, viral sea shanty sensation Nathan Evans, and rising star award winner Griff.

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