The week's UK news: 19 December 2016
19 December 2016

Man makes amazing Star Wars playhouse 

Colin Furze likes making and inventing things. His latest creation is spectacular: a moving Star Wars Imperial Walker which is big enough to get inside. Check his website to see the Imperial Walker in action - and how he made it.

Mr Furze spent a month making the model for the eight-year-old son of his friend, and the little boy has had a great time playing with it and making it move. The Imperial Walker model is full of details and there are lots of gadgets inside to play with. Mr Furze says: "It's the ultimate kids' play den."

Planet Earth 2 attracts huge audience

The wildlife series Planet Earth 2 ended its run on UK TV this week, attracting more viewers than almost any other programme. It attracted more young adult viewers than talent show The X Factor, which surprised lots of people. In China, the first two episodes have been available on Tencent, attracting 61m viewers in a few days. And a short part of the first episode, showing a baby iguana being chased by snakes, has attracted 84m views on Weibo, another Chinese site.

The last episode of the series looked at wildlife in cities, including leopards hunting in Mumbai at night and giant catfish eating pigeons in France. Many viewers were upset about a scene where baby turtles were shown hatching on Barbados: lots of them were confused by the bright lights of a town, and went across a main road instead of to the sea. Viewers wanted to know why the film crew didn't rescue the baby turtles, and went on Twitter to ask what had happened. We then found out that the film crew had rescued as many as they could and put them in the sea, though they usually have a rule not to interfere with wildlife.

Now the makers of the programme are talking about making a Planet Earth 3, but it may take years to come. 

How to win at board games

Here in the UK the Christmas holidays are coming. It is the time of year when families get together - and they often play board games like Monopoly and Cluedo. A study by Imperial College in London has discovered that women are likelier to win games if they play rock music in the background.

They think rock music distracts men, who then make more mistakes. Classical music did not make a difference to the men. Women were slightly better at playing games than men, and music did not affect how well they did.

The research has a serious purpose. The team is trying to find out if music can be used to boost people's performance in sport or medicine. 

Traditional drink back in fashion

People in the UK bought record amounts of gin in 2016. Gin is a spirit (like vodka and brandy) which people usually drink mixed with tonic water which is fizzy and slightly bitter. This is called a gin and tonic.

In 2016 enough gin was sold in the UK to make 1.12 billion gin and tonics, 16 per cent more than in 2015.

Gin has been popular in the UK for hundreds of years, which is why it is often called London Gin. It became less popular at the end of the 20th century. Now there are lots of new companies making it with special flavourings, and special gin tasting events. The drinks industry says 2016 was "the year of gin".

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