This morning, everyone's talking about Adele's acceptance speech at the Brit awards. Thanks to a rambling Damon Albarn and the imminent arrival of the News at Ten, she barely started to thank anyone before an apologetic James Corden cut her off mid-sentence. This tells us two things: 1) awards ceremonies tailored to accommodate adverts always fall foul of time constraints; and 2) the most exciting thing to happen at the Brits was someone not finishing what they were saying.
We are up to our necks in awards ceremonies at this time of year, but do any of them actually make good television? From the red carpet arrivals show spin-offs to the lengthy live coverage of bored-looking wealthy folk craning their necks for the wine waiter, they seem to get an awful lot of screen time. But are they any more than animated versions of celebrity magazine pages? A parade of lovely dresses and then hours of clock-watching with a disappointing finish?
I rarely miss one on TV during awards season. As soon as the first Bafta shortlist is announced, I'm there on the sofa with snacks and a blanket. And yet once the action is sucked out of the glitzy hotel ballroom and poured back out onto our TV screens it is usually devoid of all atmosphere and plods like a tranquilised elephant. The initial excitement about dresses and celebrity-spotting soon gives way to a waiting game, fuelled by the vain hope that someone will do or say something interesting. And even on the rare occasion that they do, it's usually a toe-curling moment of awfulness so great that you want to reach into the television and shush them.
Gwynneth Paltrow's Oscar speech, Vanessa Redgrave's Bafta fellowship speech, Kristin Stewart's leaden oration at the same ceremony… many have fallen at the hurdle of public speaking. And who could blame them? All that raw, untempered emotion does funny things to the language centres of the brain. Not to mention the tear ducts.
Last night's Brits were a slick, if rather forgettable affair save for the Adele botch-up (and Blur's performance of Tender over on ITV2). If organisers had simply removed Olly Murs from the lineup we could all have enjoyed her speech unhindered. I wanted to see flawless Adele's uvula reverberating with talent, Florence Welch swinging from the sun on a rope ladder in exploding trousers, Kate Bush riding through a fiery curtain on an elephant. Not chirpy Olly Murs singing sharper than a cut-throat razor.
Awards shows need huge set-pieces – unusual duets or pyrotechnics that dwarf the fourth of July. More often they seem to reply on comic slip-ups and drunken stage invasions. See Brandon Block at the Brits in 2000 or Kanye West storming the stage during Taylor Swift's acceptance speach at the VMAs in 2009. The most successful of these was of course Jarvis Cocker at the Brits in 1996, displaying his contempt for Michael Jackson's performance of Earth Song.
But even some of these moments of limp anarchy leave the TV audience at home feeling uneasy and embarrassed. At least we could all enjoy the good, clean fun of Judy Finnigan's chemise malfunction at the 2006 NTAs. Rather than cringe-inducing, it was more a moment of cohesive joy in the Carry On tradition. But tell me anything else that happened at that ceremony and I'll give you a biscuit.
And we don't just watch these awards shows, slack-jawed, any more. We tweet our way through them, remarking on every gaff and bum note. This is of course massively complicated by the fact that many celebrities we follow are tweeting from inside the "as live" awards ceremonies which we are often watching on a delay. Or even as an edited highlights show later the same evening. This year's Baftas were all over by the time we were settling down to watch them. Quelle frustration when the winner isn't even a surprise because your favourite actor/singer has already tweeted the results.
So do awards ceremonies make good television? Would you prefer they stayed in a locked room – or would an edited highlights package be more suitable? Or do you relish sitting through every arse-numbing second?
Burgess Powers creates web sites and applications like this one