George Ezra kicks off Brit Awards by claiming best British male solo artist

Hugh Jackman opened the ceremony at the O2 Arena in London.

George Ezra kicked off the Brit Awards by claiming the prize for British male solo artist.

Paloma Faith and Daniel Sturridge presented the award to Ezra, who enjoyed success in 2018 with his album Staying At Tamara’s.

Ezra said: “This is an incredible honour and I thank you very, very much.

“There’s not a day goes by where I don’t consider myself very lucky.

Brit Awards 2019 – Arrivals – London
George Ezra was the first to claim a prize at the event (Ian West/PA)

“To everybody that I get to work alongside, thank you for all your hard work. And to everyone at home.

“It means the world from the bottom of my heart, thank you very much.”

His win came after Hugh Jackman opened the 39th Brit Awards with a show-stopping rendition of the title track from The Greatest Showman.

The Hollywood star took to the stage at the O2 Arena in London as PT Barnum, his character to the successful musical film.

Alongside dozens of dancers dressed in top hats and tails, Jackman performed The Greatest Show against a backdrop of glittering curtains and fireballs.

Jackman, 50, was handed the coveted opening slot following a year which saw the cast recording of The Greatest Showman spend 28 non-consecutive weeks at number one.

Despite mixed reviews from critics, the film was a box office success and its soundtrack, composed by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, remained in the top five throughout much of 2018.

Jack Whitehall kicked off the ceremony in his usual manner, taking aim at the failed luxury music event Fyre Festival which was the subject of a Netflix documentary.

He then made an appearance during Jackman’s opening performance atop a platform, clapping his hands before introducing the star as “Australia’s answer to Bradley Walsh”.

The British comedian, 30, was invited to return as host after winning praise in 2018 for making comic digs at an array of celebrities.

Brit Awards 2019 – Arrivals – London
Hugh Jackman opened the event at the O2 Arena (Ian West/PA)

Pop star Ed Sheeran, England captain Harry Kane and The Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood were among those he mocked during last year’s event.

Women dominate this year’s shortlist, with female solo artists Dua Lipa and Anne-Marie both earning four nominations apiece.

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