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Friday, 7 July, 2000, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
BBC's Dome bid 'doomed'
Body zone at the Dome
Could the Body zone make way for EastEnders?
A bid to turn the Millennium Dome into a theme park based on BBC television characters cannot go ahead unless two rival plans are rejected.

The corporation announced it is backing a joint-venture with the entertainment company Tussaud's Group.

But bidding to take over the running of the 48-acre Dome site at the end of the year has closed.

No new bids can be allowed and we have made that clear

John Walker
The BBC's plan can only be considered if owners reject two official bids from the Japanese-backed Dome Europe group and Legacy plc.

Dome Europe wants to keep the millennium experience running while Legacy plc plans to strip out the current content and turn the site into London's silicon valley.

John Walker, competition director for the sale of the Dome, said: "We are aware of the Tussaud's' interest, but no new bids can be allowed and we have made that clear to them."

Life-size dinosaurs

The Tussaud's Group already runs attractions such as Alton Towers, Madam Tussauds, the London Planetarium and the British Airways London Eye.

It was part of a consortium originally bidding to take over the Dome but failed to make the shortlist.

A spokeswoman for BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the corporation, said the talks with the Tussaud's Group were on a non-exclusive basis.

"We are in talks with a number of people on a number of proposals for visitor attractions around the country," she said.

Dinosaurs: Roaring success for the BBC
But Michael Jolly, chairman and chief executive of Tussaud's Group, said he was not sure the other bidders could deliver.

"We want ministers to look at the attractiveness of the official bids in the light of what we can offer," he said.

Under the Tussaud's Group's proposals 70% of the Dome would be take up by BBCatDome - showing life-size exhibits from productions such as EastEnders and Walking With Dinosaurs.

The rest of the site would become an urban entertainment centre called DomeTown Greenwich, featuring bars, restaurants and shops.

The corporation would not put any money into the Dome, but would be offered a share in the profits in return for lending its programme ideas to themes.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is due to announce the winner of the Dome bids on 10 July.

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See also:

29 Jun 00 | UK Politics
Dome too 'risky', admits boss
25 Jun 00 | UK
Dome bonuses despite cuts
15 Jun 00 | UK Politics
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24 May 00 | UK
MPs demand Dome inquiry
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