#R1EscapeRoom: How Did Greg James Get Out Of The Radio 1 Escape Room?

By Steve Higgins
February 19, 2019 2:00 PM ‐ Radio
BBC Radio 1 Escape Room

You can't have failed to have noticed that #R1EscapeRoom has been trending on Twitter over the last couple of days and it's all down to a stunt involving Radio 1 breakfast show DJ, Greg James.

An unaware Greg was locked in the sterile white escape just before 8 o'clock on Monday morning and spent almost 31 hours locked inside the room. His only chance of escape was to uncover the six digit code to unlock the door with the help of his listeners.

The event was one of the most engaging and gripping radio events in a long long time, but due to the complicated and frankly genius nature of the game, it was easy to lose track and miss the significance and outcome of the various clues and puzzles Greg encountered. So, below is the complete story of Greg's escape for the Radio 1 Escape Room.

How Greg Escaped From #R1EscapeRoom

When Greg entered the room he was faced with a strange grid on the wall with some red waves above it, a game of hangman with six answers and a jigsaw puzzle.

The first puzzle Greg cracked with the help of listeners was the hangman puzzle. The answers turned out to be six current or recent Radio 1 playlist artists:
1. Ellie Goulding
2. Tinie Tempah
3. Kendrick Lamar
4. Coldplay
5. Onerepublic
6. Lady Gaga
It didn't take long for listeners playing along via text and Twitter to make a connection between these artists. They all have songs about stars. Ellie had a hit with 'Starry Eyed', Tinie's was 'Written In The Stars', Kendrick's 'All Of The Stars', Coldplay's 'A Sky Full Of Stars', Onerepublic's 'Counting Stars' and Lady Gaga's 'A Star Is Born'.

Not long after solving this a package was posted into the room by the captors via a letterbox. The package was a digital audio book that played a mashup of songs, all of which revolved around listening. They were The Doobie Brothers 'Listen to the Music', Beyonce's 'Listen', George Ezra's 'Listen To The Man' and one that no one identified at the time, which was Room 5's dance hit 'Make Love And Listen To The Music'. Clearly this clue pointed to the word "listen."

One clever listener called Hannah called the show to say the that "stars" and "listen" combined to point to a feature on Greg's show called Star Listener, where he picks and rewards one person for listening. The next clue helped narrow down a Star Listener. It was a mysterious voice calling Greg from outside of the room, it simply said "hello". After hearing the voice a few times, listeners worked out that it was the voice of Claudia Winkleman. Using a list of all of the previous Star Listeners from the show, Greg found one called Claudia, who won the title just a couple of weeks ago.

The next clue was another musical game. Again the digital audio book included a short mash up of four song, which this time were Shalamar's 'I Can Make You Feel Good', Flo Rida's 'Good Feeling', Gorillaz's 'Feel Good Inc.' and Muse 'Feeling Good'.

Armed with the phrase "feel good" from these songs, Greg was able to confirm that Star Listener Claudia was significant because the list showed what prize was sent to Claudia, and it was a copy of Ainsley Harriott's 2006 book, 'The Feel Good Cookbook'.
The next clue took a while to solve, it was a jigsaw puzzle. Eventually Greg placed enough of the pieces together to reveal a photo of a boxing ring and the words "shake, rattle and roll" written over it. The song was 'Shake, Rattle and Roll' was a song that Ainsley Harriott danced to on the week he was knocked out of 'Strictly Come Dancing'.

The boxer in the photo was Ricky Hatton, who shares a surname with Jill Hatton, a 'This Morning' viewer who Ainsley surprised on live television. After this appearance on 'This Morning' Greg featured the clip of Ainsley saying, "why hello Jill" heavily on his show making it a relevant clue to Greg and the show's listeners. This confirmed that Ainsley was the intended piece of information to take from the clue.
The next clue that came into play was one which Greg and his listeners solved much earlier, the wave grid. It turned out that the red waves at the top of the grid represented the sea and indicated that the letter in the red box at the start of each row should be a C. Each row had seven boxes with a gap on each. A listener named Mia realised that these boxes represented the keys on a piano and the missing boxes were in fact keys being pressed down or played. Mia was able to play the tune and it was identified as the 'Postman Pat' theme tune, telling Greg that the answer was in the post.

Based on this, Greg got in touch with Claudia to find out if she'd received the book yet, but she hadn't and oddly had been phoned by a mystery person at Radio 1 the previous day to check that she'd be home to receive the delivery. This isn't something producers at the station would normally do, a prize like this would just be sent in the post. A note which was printed of by the escape rooms printer confirmed that this was relevant information, "deliverance is near."

Greg assumed that the book would arrive with Claudia at 1:04pm, because a clock in the room was stuck at 10:56 but reflected in a strategically placed mirror opposite the time read 1:04. To Greg's frustration four minutes past one came and went and Claudia, who was on the phone at the time, didn't receive a delivery.

Minutes later, a call was put through to Scott Mills in the Radio 1 studio. The caller, Nick, told Gregg that a delivery for the BBC had been dispatched and would be delivered between 2 and 3pm.
About an hour later Claudia got a knock at the door and Greg knew exactly what to do. As the 1:04 clue hadn't been a time, it must have been the page number. As he asked Claudia to flip to page 104, four slices of bread were posted into the escape room.

This was the final clue, the number was hidden in the listed ingredients for smoked haddock rarebit on page 104, starting with the four slices of bread. The ingredients were:
4 slices from a small white bloomer
1x 350g tub fresh cheese sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
8 cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

This of course gave Greg the six digit code to exit the room. The code was 412182 and it successfully opened the door and gave Greg his freedom back.

How Did It Work?

A lot went in to producing this radio event and only four people at Radio 1 knew the final code, one of them was James who programmed the key code device that the number was hardcoded into. It took two months to devise the evil plot and the puzzles were checked by gameshow experts from 'Only Connect'.

The escape room itself was a purpose built studio at the BBC's Madia Vale studios in West London, which was fitted with a radio desk, several camera and a small private area off-camera, which included a bed and an escape hatch which led to a black walkway to a toilet.

One of the show's producers, Chris Sawyer, explained on Greg's show the next morning how they had planted Ainsley's cookbook in the studio two weeks before the feature in the hopes that a completely unaware Greg would give it away to a listener. They were right and that listener, Claudia, became a massive part of the game.

Chris and the team had to intercept the book before it was posted, literally taking out of the outgoing mail in the Radio 1 office so that they could then circle the correct numbers on page 104 and hold it back until nearer the game when it would be sent to Claudia at the right moment.

Some listeners criticised the game saying that only Star Listener Claudia was sent the book, so did that mean that only Claudia could finish the puzzle? No, because anyone with a copy of Ainsley's cookbook could have worked it out, this was the producers' contingency plan. The clock in the room gave the page number as 104 and the final clue, four slices of bread posted into the room, gave listeners the exact location of the clue on the page.

#R1EscapeRoom apparently generated a record number of texts and the engagement on Twitter was really good fun to be a part of. It was nice that it brought strangers together online to discuss theories. The event was an incredible, addictive and massively engaging bit of radio, the likes of which only the BBC Radio 1 could pull off.

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