Dome centrepiece unveiled (27/11/98)

A 90ft high figure of a couple in a gentle embrace will form The Body, the main attraction of the £758 million Millennium Dome, it was announced on 27/11/98.

The Body was revealed in a video as Dome organisers, the New Millennium Experience Company, announced that the huge project was on time and on budget.

Boots the Chemist will sponsor the Body Zone in which the 200ft long figure of the couple will appear.

Other sponsors announced for the Dome, are fast-food chain McDonald’s, engineering giant GEC and British Aerospace.

NMEC chiefs denied a suggestion from Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker that the type of sponsors being used were turning the Dome into a “trade fair”.

And the NMEC also made it clear that even though GEC and BAe were among the sponsors, there would be no evidence of defence as a topic within the Dome.

NMEC chief executive Jenny Page added that she was confident that the strike-hit and behind-schedule London Underground Jubilee Line extension – which will carry more than two in five of the visitors to and from the Dome – would be ready for the December 31, 1999, opening of the Dome.

The NMEC presentation – at the London Weekend Television studios in South London – marked 400 days until the Dome opening.

The steel-framed Body statue has been designed by Nigel Coates, a professor of architecture at the Royal College of Art in London. The male figure has its left arm around the female and visitors will be able to enter The Body and take an escalator ride up the male’s right arm and into the central area.

Inside they will hear and see the sights and sounds of the human body. The NMEC also revealed today the design for the Mind Zone which GEC and BAe are jointly sponsoring.

The zone has been designed by top designer Zaha Hadid and visitors to this section will be able to have a brain scan which will show them which areas of the brain they are using. They will also be able to interact with robots.

Ms Page said today that her company already had £120 million of the £150 million sponsorship needed. She added that a further £15 million was the subject of “detailed negotiation” and that she was in “no doubt that full sponsorship will be achieved”.

McDonald’s will be sponsoring Our Town Story in which more than 250 towns and cities from around Britain will tell the history of their area within a special 500-seater arena in the Dome.

Stirling in Scotland will be the first town to tell its story – on January 4, 2000. London nightclub The Ministry of Sound is anxious to see dance music included in the Dome. The club’s chief executive, Mark Rodol, today asked the NMEC if there was not a gap in the provision of music within the Dome.

Ms Page replied that there would be “quite a lot of music” both inside and outside the Dome.

Michael Grade, chairman of the Millennium Experience Creative Review Group, added: “Any celebration of this country must include pop music and we would ignore that at our peril.”

Ms Page said that McDonald’s would have two of the 30 food outlets at the Dome. Details of the other caterers were expected to be announced soon, as would further details of the 14 zones on which work was now proceeding.

No details of prices for the Dome were given today but Ms Page said they would be on a par with similar family attractions such as Alton Towers in Staffordshire. Price details are expected early in the New Year (1999).

Mr Grade later denied sponsorship would turn the Dome into a trade fair. “The company itself is in control of the design process and the sponsors are not fools,” he told BBC Radio.

“They know jolly well that if they were to try to push us into turning exhibits into a trade show, it would rebound on them and be out of keeping with the whole spirit and rest of the Dome. The issue does not arise.”

The rules for their participation were set out in contracts up to 100 pages long. But the sponsors’ names would be prominently displayed. He also rejected criticism of sponsorship by defence companies GEC and BAe.

The Mind Zone they were funding would display modern science and technology relating to how the mind worked and how technology could deceive the mind. “It will be about technology, an exciting exhibition we hope is going to inspire a lot of young people going through there to think about careers in science and technology,” he said.

He also stressed that the two companies did not do only defence work. There would be no defence exhibits in the Dome.

Work was now going on to create “what one might call the `wow factor’ in each of the zones, the things people are going to go away and talk about”.

He denied suggestions that people outside London were not interested in the Dome, after a survey showed many people in Scotland felt it had nothing to do with them.

He said not many details had been announced to date. An Our Town Story initiative had been announced today to let every community put on an exhibition or performance in the Dome about their areas.

Copyright: ITN News

David Riddle
Last updated: 4/7/99

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