Unfortunately the Dome debate has greatness thrust upon it

Share
Related Topics
The Great Millennium Debate grinds ever onwards, with people weighing in from every walk of society to have their say about the Dome, and Peter Mandelson, and the concept, and the design, and the Greenwich Theatre, and ... well, put it this way - personally I don't blame the Spice Girls for heading to Hollywood to get away from it all.

But I see it as my duty to contribute to the Great Millennium Debate as well, before I die, so I have gathered together a panel of experts to continue the debate, including Melvyn Bragg, Germaine Greer, Julie Burchill, Paul Johnson, Jonathan Miller, David Starkey the historian, Ned Sherrin, Chris Evans, Professor Steve Jones, Bernard Cribbins, Armando Iannucci, and many others, to talk us through the pros and cons of whatever it's all about.

We join the debate as Jonathan Miller puts in a word.

Miller: May I just say that I mistrust any debate that is labelled "great"? Anything that is labelled "great" before it happens is unlikely to be great. After all, even the Great War was only dubbed so in retrospect. I seem to remember that whenever the Tory government wanted to tell us what its plans were, it announced that we should have a "great national debate" on the subject. The debate was never great and never national, as only the government bothered to join in. So it wasn't really a debate either.

Michael Ignatieff: I think the whole trouble is that we haven't defined what we are talking about ...

Starkey: I think the whole trouble is that tin-pot intellectuals always insist on defining what we are talking about.

Greer: I think the whole trouble is that the British think that the word "intellectual" is an insult.

Johnson: Oh God, not that old chestnut again. Next thing you know, someone will be standing up and saying that the British hate success.

Branson: The British actually do resent success, you know. If someone British makes it big, it's only a matter of time before he has to be cut down to size. Evans: I suppose next you'll be saying you keep failing in your balloon flights on purpose in order to pre-empt people's jealousy of you.

Bragg: The whole point is that we British always play things down before they happen, and say they can never work, and then afterwards we all say what a brilliant success it was and forget that we predicted its failure. I mean, in 1914 everyone said the war was going to be a disaster, and yet, as Jonathan has said, it was a Great War.

Miller: I just said it was called a Great War. It was actually a disaster. A great disaster.

Iannucci: Not at all. It was very useful. It killed off most of the elder sons of the British aristocracy, something that Lenin came nowhere near achieving.

Starkey: You mean, the best minds of one generation were wiped out!

Jones: Genetically speaking, there is nothing to suggest that the aristocracy are any more intelligent than any other branch of society.

Starkey: Poppycock.

Buerk: Thank you, David, and our next witness is ... ?

Cribbins: Bernard Cribbins, and what I want to know is, what on earth am I doing here?

Buerk: Well, we had intended to get Bernard Ingham along, but I'm afraid we invited the wrong person.

Greer: It's odd to think that at one point Sir Bernard Ingham was never off the telly, and now he's never on.

Ianucci: It's the Tony Slattery syndrome. Once Tony Slattery became a byword for ubiquitousness, nobody asked him to appear any more, so now he is a byword for invisibility.

Sherrin: What actually did happen to Tony Slattery?

Ianucci: He was replaced by Paul Merton.

Bragg: Look, I think we're getting away from the central thrust of the debate ...

Miller: Don't say thrust. I hate the word thrust. It gives quite the wrong image of debates, because it suggests that debates actually go somewhere. They don't. They go round in circles, calling at everyone's prejudices in turn. Have you ever known anyone in history having their mind changed by a debate?

Cribbins: He's right, you know. I'd never thought of that.

Ianucci: So your mind has been changed by this debate??

Cribbins: You're right, too. I'd never thought of that either.

Bragg: Poppycock.

Cribbins: You're right. I hadn't thought of that.

Starkey: Look, speaking as a historian, I have to say that these great end-of-the-decade and mid-decade events, like the Great Exhibition and the Festival of Britain, are simply statements of the nation's state of the mind. And this controversy about the Dome shows that the nation is fatally divided and apathetic!

Sue Lawley: Mmmmm. Another record?

The Great Debate continues.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
 

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral