February 21, 2002 01:00 AM

From the Union Jack shirt on the show’s host to the life-sized screen version that stood before the stage, the British flew their flag high at Wednesday’s Brit Awards, the U.K. music industry’s most important night of the year, reports PEOPLE’s London bureau. Dido, 29, and Kylie Minogue, 33, were the big winners (each got two), with the latter clearly the favorite of the night. She didn’t disappoint fans of her singing or of her notoriously sexy outfits, performing her hit single “Can’t Get You Out of My Head” while sporting a white minidress that tied up the side and thigh-high silver boots. She danced her way through the aisles to receive the award for Best International Female from a slimmed-down, well-coifed Russell Crowe. The fellow Aussies embraced warmly onstage and walked off arm in arm. Minogue also introduced venerable rocker Sting for his Outstanding Contribution to Music award and said, “If he were still teaching, I’d head straight back to school.” Sting, 50, had only a few words to say: “I’ve had a very, very long career in music. If I have gleaned any wisdom, it’s encapsulated in five words: Music is its own reward.” The superstar then quickly ran off the stage with Minogue, seeming to forget that he was supposed to perform. Show cohost Zoe Ball had to run all the way across the stage screaming Sting’s name to retrieve him. Nevertheless, he eventually assumed his rightful place and treated the audience to hits spanning his career, including “If You Love Somebody, Set Them Free,” “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You,” “Every Breath You Take” and “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”

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