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3am at the NME Carling awards: GWYN 'N' BARE IT..; Questions over romance ruined Coldplay Chris's big day.

Byline: JESSICA CALLAN, EVA SIMPSON AND NIKI WALDEGRAVE

JUST what is going on between odd couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin?

Yesterday it was rumoured they have finally smelled the coffee and split up. Gwyneth, 30, had allegedly dumped the Coldplay singer after admitting he was only ever an "in- between" boyfriend.

But 25-year-old Chris refused to confirm they were, in fact, history, even though he quite rightly took a swipe at cry-baby Gwyneth at last night's NME Awards in Hammersmith's Po Na Na.

When we asked about their split he snarled: "Who? I'm not doing any interviews. I don't want to talk about it, man! I've never even met her. I'm going out with Julia Roberts." Ouch.

Poor Chris was taken aback later in the ceremony when host Bill Bailey cracked a joke about the actress.

When Coldplay went up to collect one of their awards, the Best Album gong, Bill joked: "Thank God he didn't do a Gwyneth" - referring to the 1999 Oscars when she burst into tears.

Friends of Gwyneth say that although she was grateful for his support after the recent death of her father, Bruce, she knew it wouldn't last.

And one source close to the star put a different spin on it when she told us: "Gwyneth hoped that by going out with someone who wasn't a high profile celebrity in America, it would keep her out of spotlight dominated by the engagement of her ex-boyfriend Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Hmmm. The 'are they/aren't they an item' rumours dominated what should have been a night of celebration, but Chris put on a brave face to pick up two gongs for the band.

And funnily enough he also managed to clinch the award for Most Sexy Man - many votes coming from the email address of a certain, er, Ms G Paltrow. How strange.

The unlikely couple met last summer, but only fell for each other in November at one of the band's gigs.

Since then they have been inseparable, despite laughably pretending they weren't an item and playing cat and mouse with paparazzi.

But although they look sweet enough together, the signs were there from the beginning that they weren't going to win any Romance of the Century awards.

Teetotal Chris famously didn't lose his virginity until he was 21, bless him, while Gwyneth has been through some of Hollywood's hunkiest men.

Last night a spokesman for Coldplay told us: "We never comment on Chris' personal life," while Gwyneth's Los Angeles mouthpiece called the supposed split, "total fabrication."

But the question on everyone's lips is: Will they be each other's Valentines today?

CAPTION(S):

COLD FLAME: Paltrow
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 14, 2003
Words:444
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