Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Dolly Parton and the Millennium Dome

On Sunday night, I went to the Dolly Parton concert at the O2, and had a brilliant time.

Of course, most of us remember that the O2 is a successful reinvention of the disastrous Millennium Dome. It must have seemed a brilliant idea to somebody: build the largest dome in the world on the rundown Greenwich Peninsula, fill it with an exhibition celebrating the new millennium, add its own tube station and watch the crowds come rolling in. Cue the popular perception of it as a giant tent on polluted wasteland, filled with rubbish and failing to attract the expected crowds...

However, now that the big marquee on the Thames seems to be a success at last, let's celebrate 10 things about the Dome:
  1. It brought the extension of the Jubilee Line to Stratford (and via Canada Water, conveniently for me...)
  2. Lots of toxic sludge was removed from the whole Greenwich Peninsula.
  3. We got to laugh cynically at Tony Blair's claim that the bland, mediocre exhibition was "a triumph of confidence over cynicism, boldness over blandness, excellence over mediocrity".
  4. Comparisons to the wildly successful 1851 Great Exhibition reminded us all of its wonderful legacy, Albertopolis.
  5. You could have your photo taken with ET in the BT-sponsored Talk zone.
  6. It was the scene of a rather improbable diamond robbery attempt involving a speedboat and a bulldozer - and we thought these plots only happened in movies!
  7. It gave us the opportunity to buy a giant hamster (£3,000), enormous eye (£500) or a brain (£700 - surely a bargain).
  8. Believe it or not, it was actually the country's most popular paying attraction in 2000 - even if a lot of visitors didn't actually have to pay (and many of those who did only paid half price).
  9. At least it never became a supercasino.
  10. It does make a good landmark:

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