Treasure Hunt (Channel 4, 1982-1989)
As I have now just about reviewed all of the game shows that I remember of the general knowledge variety, it’s time to look back at something that contains a little more action. Treasure Hunt made its debut shortly after the launch of Channel 4 in 1982, and this was one of their earliest shows to gain popularity with viewers, as it showed off their commitment to making shows that were a little more adventurous.
Treasure Hunt was an hour-long show that was hosted by Kenneth Kendall, and every week a team of two had to decipher five cryptic clues to find the hidden treasure, there were 45 minutes to complete the challenge. The more clues they solved, the more prizes they won. The teams had to aid someone called the “skyrunner”, who went around in a helicopter based on the advice that they were given. Running around trying to find a piece of paper has rarely been more exciting.
In all except the final series this was Anneka Rice, who was then replaced by the tennis player Annabel Croft. To help the team solve the clues, they had access to various books including encyclopedias, and there were also other innovations including a little plane being moved around on a map to show the latest progress, this was what counted as modern technology in those days.
Most of the editions of Treasure Hunt took place somewhere in the UK, but there was also the occasional one made abroad, along with a few specials. The show came to an end in 1989, but it was frequently repeated well into the 90s (including on Challenge), and it remained rather popular throughout its run. After this ended, there was the similar Challenge Anneka series that ran on BBC1 for many years.
In the late-80s/early-90s there was a wave of similarly popular action-packed shows, including Channel 4’s The Crystal Maze and ITV’s Interceptor (that I plan to review soon), and about a decade after that there was Channel 5’s Fort Boyard (although I must admit I have never really watched that one). There was also a show on ITV in 1991 called Skyrunners that was essentially Treasure Hunt with a team format, as celebrity teams guided around two helicopters, but this was a one-off.
There was also lots of merchandise including a board game and a computer game, along with a few parodies in comedy shows and adverts of the tension when time was beginning to run out. There was also a somewhat inevitable revival in the early-2000s on BBC2, technology had now advanced to the point where things much more ambitious could be achieved, but this just didn’t compare to the original and ran for only two series.