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Discovery zone - getting inside the Dome with the BBC


The bbc begins broadcasting a series about the building of the Millennium Dome next Thursday (9 December). The first episode shows Eva Jiricna (right) battling with assorted religious sages over the content of the Spirit Zone, and at loggerheads with nmec chief executive Jennie Page. Page's comment after a meeting where Jiricna grapples with the architectural representation of Britain's religious heritage is, 'I do wish she'd hand over the figures'. And Page is also seen defending practice deemed too theoretical for most visitors to the Dome. The practice is not mentioned by name, but eagle-eyed Dome-watchers will notice that the model on the table bears an uncanny resemblance to the ice-rink scheme put forward by muf during its short stint as architect of the Land Zone.

The more nostalgic viewers will enjoy 1951 footage of the erection of Skylon and the Dome of Discovery, and unusually poetic footage of the erection of the Millennium Dome itself, including acerbic asides from one of the contractors, who confirms architects' worst fears - 'the deadline means jack-shit to me,' he declares.

Lord Rogers is a shadowy presence in the series. In a scene where Jiricna struggles to convince bbc managing director Alan Yentob of the brilliance of her scheme, Rogers is shown nodding and chatting with the assurance of a man whose commission has long since been secured. Later, Rogers and Mike Davies can be seen peeping over Tony Blair's shoulder as he gives a morale-boosting speech.

The second episode in the series shows Land Design, designer of the Play Zone, standing firm in the face of demands for brand promotion from the zone's then sponsor, Sky TV. It keeps the commission, but clearly find the whole process something of a trial. At one point it is interviewed having tidied up the office in anticipation of a visit from Peter Mandelson, but he never shows up. He does have an excuse - he was promoted to Trade and Industry secretary that day.

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