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There’s a Brexit Escape Room in Manchester and it’s scarily realistic

Leave or Remain?

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Whichever side of the Brexit debate you’re on, the one thing I think we can all be united in is the fact that the whole process has been a complete unremitting disaster, which has not only divided the country, but also made us an international laughing stock. Merry Christmas!

With much of the debate just seeming to centre around people on both sides trying to shout or condescend their opinion into the brains of people with a differing view, a bit of a light-hearted escape from the whole thing sounded fun to me. An escape room, to be more precise. 

Alternate Escapes, one of the residents at the new Pollard Yard, located on Pollard Street next to Wellington Mill – a hub for creative independent businesses housed in repurposed shipping containers, run by a company called Meanwhile Creative – offers themed escape room challenges. The current theme is The Battle of Brexit and there are new themes in the pipeline for 2020.  

Ben Fowler, the man behind Alternate Escapes, explains: “The escape room is about giving people the chance to take a fairly exhausting, serious topic, and enjoy it in a far more light-hearted and satirical way”. 

Before you start you have to pick a side: Remain or Leave. We picked Remain, and you have a quick introduction in a separate cabin to go over the rules.

The set up being that our host is our campaign manager, and he has surreptitiously gained access to our rivals HQ for a short time and in the true spirit of real life Brexit, our objective is to try and gather sensitive, confidential information to besmirch our rivals by seeding their grubby secrets out to the press. 

It’s not really a case of escaping per se, but if you get all the secret documents, you succeed in destroying your rivals credibility, and ultimately win your chosen Brexit outcome. Or you fail, and they win. 

It was at this moment I made a decision. When I was younger, if there was a big football game approaching, I’d often play the game virtually on Fifa beforehand, deciding that whatever the outcome on Fifa would be the outcome in real life in some sort of inexplicable cosmic quirk, with myself at the centre of the universe. 

That’s what I decided would happen with Brexit, 100%, without question. Whatever happened in our Battle of Brexit escape room would manifest in real life. 

Naturally, being an escape room, they haven’t made it easy. In order to get our hands on confidential documents we have to work out access to various cupboards, drawers, cabinets, lockers and rooms by following a series of cryptic clues dotted around, with our campaign manager watching over from our HQ and able to provide clues on a screen occasionally, for which you’re notified by a little gong sound.


One such gong during our session was to dissuade one of our team Danny from trying to hack into a tablet, which we weren’t quite ready to use at that stage as we hadn’t discovered the clue to do so yet. 

While Danny didn’t quite manage to hack into the rival’s profile, he did somehow manage to log out of it completely and, impressively, hack in to the Alternate Escapes chap’s girlfriend’s personal profile, which we quickly were notified wasn’t part of our game, leaving us having to un-hack and re-hack back in when we were ready.  It was some serious espionage. 

I’ve done a couple of escape rooms before, with mixed success and experiences, and this one was well put together, good fun, and actually quite tough. It’s a simple-looking layout at first, but the complexity of it builds out as the game progresses. 

We had waves of being pretty prolific, then hitting a roadblock, with each new discovery greeted with a collective cheer. With actual seconds to spare, we managed to get the last clue and succeed in getting all documents, meaning that we won. 

Therefore, the cosmos has spoken, the outcome of Brexit will be Remain

Then again, if the universe was as aligned around me as I like to think, England would have won every major football tournament since about 1998 based purely on my Fifa endeavours, so I won’t hold my breath. 

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Pam Shipman is hosting a Gavin & Stacey quiz this week

Oh my christ!

Alex Watson

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BBC

The best character from Gavin & Stacey is hosting the ultimate quiz this Thursday for serious fans of the show. 

Played by Alison Steadman, Pam Shipman is the person we’ve all turned into in lockdown. ‘I’m absolutely shattered. I’ve been crying all afternoon’ certainly rings a bell.

Well-loved Alison is hosting an online quiz all about the show, and raising money for Marie Curie while she’s at it. 

Credit: Gavin & Stacey / BBC iPlayer

The quiz is free but donations are encouraged to the charity which helps care for and support those suffering with terminal illnesses. If you donate you also enter a prize draw!

You can play on your own or form a team with your household and join the quiz via this link on the Marie Curie website. 

You will be marking yourself and can chat to Pam through the comment box.

Credit: Gavin & Stacey / BBC iPlayer

Pam isn’t the only character from the show that has been vocal through the lockdown, with Nessa giving us a classic no-nonsense rundown of what’s occurin’.

Nessa said: “If you see me in the morning doing my daily run, my half marathon around Barry, don’t even think about breaking that two-metre rule because if you does, I will not hesitate to tell you quite clearly to back off.

“Because at the end of the day, when all is said and done, no word of a lie if truth be told, just because you don’t feel ill don’t mean you’re not infectious, you could be riddled.”

The quiz kicks off at 8:15pm on Thursday May 21st. 

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Robbie Williams is reuniting with Take That for a special lockdown concert

Robbie, we want you back for good…

Alex Watson

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Matthias Muehlbradt / Flickr

Incredible news for Take That fans – Robbie is returning for one special online concert!

Courtesy of Compare the Market, Robbie will join Gary Barlow, Mark Owen and Howard Donald to perform a virtual gig almost 30 years after the release of their debut album.

You can expect all the classics like Never Forget, Shine, Pray, A Million Love Songs and plenty more! 

The show will be raising money throughout for a music therapy charity, Nordoff Robbins, as well as Crew Nation which supports concert crews across the world during the pandemic. 

The livestream gig is part of Meerkat Music which is kicking off on May 29th at 8pm on the CompareTheMeerkat YouTube channel.

Take That told the Sun: ‘This is a world-first for us! Reuniting with our old friend online for a one-off performance! It’s always great getting back together with Robbie and we are really excited to be part of this unique show that everyone can enjoy from home.

Robbie left the band back in 1995 but had a brief reunion stint a few years back. Unfortunately, hard core Take That fans will be missing out on Jason Orange, who quit the band back in 2014 and will not be performing on the live stream. 

Gary Barlow has been doing tonnes of duets over on his Instagram page with his new series ‘The Crooner Sessions’. Guests have included Anastacia, Paloma Faith, Nall Horan, the iconic James Blunt and plenty in between. 

All we can do each night is pray that the boys will be together again someday. 

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Take a virtual tour of life-sized animatronic dinosaurs this afternoon

It’s like Jurassic Park in your front room…

Alex Watson

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Paradise Wildlife Park

Families will be able to see dozens of life-sized animatronic dinosaurs in a live virtual adventure today.

First of all, happy World Dinosaur Day!! To commemorate such a day, Paradise Wildlife Park is hosting a live Facebook event with 32 motion-sensored dinosaurs. 

The event kicks off at 4pm today (Friday May 15th) and will offer a tour of the attraction.  

The park, based in Hertfordshire, is currently closed due to the pandemic so it, like many others, is showcasing the animals and other attractions they have to offer in other inventive ways!

Anna tank, a spokesperson for the wildlife park, said: “It will be a virtual tour of our 32 life-size and motion sensored dinosaurs. There will be a presenter as well to go over all the cool dino facts.”

To take care of the 800+ actual animals the park has costs around £3,000 a day, which is normally funded by tickets and other on-site purchases.  

Instead, the park is relying on the generosity and support of viewers who are urged to donate what they can while watching. You can donate here

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