Entertainment & Arts

BBC Music Awards watched by 3.9m

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Media captionPharrell Williams and Ed Sheeran triumphed at the BBC Music Awards as Lizo Mzimba reports

The first ever BBC Music Awards ceremony was watched by an average audience of 3.9 million people, according to overnight figures.

The show, featuring performances from Coldplay and Take That, had a lower audience than the Brits, which was seen by 4.2 million people in February.

That figure marked a fall of nearly 2 million from 2013, making it the least-watched Brit Awards since 2006.

Ed Sheeran and Pharrell Williams were the main winners at the BBC event.

Pharrell was named best international artist and won song of the year for his exuberant, gospel-inspired single Happy.

Image caption Pharrell accepted his prize from Gwen Stefani on the set of The Voice US

Sheeran was named British act of the year, and played a rousing version of his Pharrell-produced single, Sing, using just a guitar and loop pedal.

The ceremony also saw performances from One Direction, Clean Bandit and US jazz singer Gregory Porter.

However, it was beaten in the ratings by ITV soap opera Emmerdale, which attracted 5.6 million viewers between 20:00 GMT and 20:30 GMT.

Later in the show, more people turned to BBC One - with a peak audience of 4.7 million watching Pharrell accept his song of the year award at 2100 GMT.

Joining the ceremony via satellite, the singer-producer described Happy's global success as "weird" and "not something I can determine".

Paying tribute to the people who watched, streamed or downloaded the song, he said: "Songwriters are beholden to what the audience thinks.

Image caption British act of the year Ed Sheeran was among more than a dozen performers

"When you say 'song of the year' it's not really my award, it's your award."

Accepting his prize from singer Sir Tom Jones, Sheeran said: "A massive thank you to everyone who's bought a record, bought a ticket, streamed on YouTube or listened to my music."

"I always thought my career would stop at one album," he added, "[but] even if people stop listening to the music I'm still going to make it."

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Media captionWatch some of the highlights from the performances

Chris Martin opened the show from the dressing rooms, performing the opening lines of Sky Full of Stars, before emerging into Earls Court in London in a shower of confetti and screams.

Many of the other artists were backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra - including Clean Bandit, who played their classical-dance mash-up Mozart's House before segueing into the number one single Rather Be.

While Tom Jones and Paloma Faith sang the Beach Boys' God Only Knows - the song that was used to launch the BBC Music brand earlier this year.

Newcomers Catfish and the Bottlemen also played to their biggest-ever audience, after winning the BBC Introducing award for best new act.

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Image caption John Newman, Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris posed together on the red carpet
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Image caption As did Tom Jones and Paloma Faith
Image caption One Direction performed their single Steal My Girl
Image caption Gregory Porter also took to the stage
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The awards were hosted by BBC DJs Fearne Cotton and Chris Evans

The Welsh rock band have been championed by BBC's Introducing strand, which champions emerging talent.

"They've looked after us since we were 15," said singer Van McCann.

"Two years ago, I could only buy a McDonalds and a pack of fags. Now, I can afford to go large."

One Direction drew the biggest cheers of the night as they performed their single Steal My Girl.

But the volume of their fans caused a slight technical problem. As event co-host Fearne Cotton tried to interview the quintet on stage, band member Louis Tomlinson replied: "To be honest, I didn't hear what you said. It's too loud and I've not got you in my ears."

Find out more on the BBC Music website.

Listen to tracks by nominated artists on BBC Playlister.

Prior to the ceremony, there had been criticism the best British artist prize excluded female acts - despite the success of Ella Henderson, Ellie Goulding and Cheryl Cole over the last 12 months.

BBC Music boss Bob Shennan denied there had been a "carve-up", telling Radio 1's Newsbeat the "six [acts] who were nominated were the six who got the most number of votes".

Hosted by Chris Evans and Fearne Cotton, the show was broadcast live on BBC One, BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2.

It was also screened in Denmark, Japan, Ireland and North America.

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