More TV Memories – Challenge Anneka.

Challenge Anneka (BBC1, 1989-1995, ITV1, 2006-2007, Channel 5, 2023)

Treasure Hunt is a game show that became popular with viewers in the mid-80s, mostly thanks to Anneka Rice, who had to run around whilst trying to solve the clues against the clock. Then her next series took the idea of trying to achieve something whilst under time pressure to the extreme. Challenge Anneka started as a one-off as part of Children In Need in 1987, before being given a full series in 1989.

Anneka and her trusty team would travel around the country in their truck. There was also the memorable opening sequence, that seemed to claim that Anneka possessed some “coming to the rescue”-style superpowers, and there was also the indication that wherever the truck went, and however little time they had, they would always make sure to do their best to avoid hedgehogs in the road.

A clue would be discovered which would reveal that they had to create something rather bold and ambitious, such as “build a school in five days” or “write a play in three days” (and those aren’t too much of an exaggeration). So a lot of people would have to get involved, and move rather quickly. The latest technology would be used to help this happen.

As the series progressed, Anneka seemed to earn a reputation where the large corporations and businesses would instantly say “yes” to her demands if they were contacted and happily take part. There would also be constant updates on how much time was remaining (“45 hours to go!”), but somehow, everything usually got completed just about in time.

There were also a few specials, where there were some challenges in various countries around the world. Challenge Anneka did well enough to be a regular in a Saturday Night slot for about six years. But then, over a decade on from the end of the original series, this show was revived for two specials on ITV1. And then, after an even longer gap, this was revived again, this time on Channel 5, making this one of a small amount of shows to have been on three channels.

Plenty of people commented that Anneka hadn’t lost any of her enthusiasm (or her truck), or her ability to make things happen quickly, but you wonder why this was revived. But then, in a move that was incompetent by their own standards, despite the publicity and good reviews, Channel 5 decided that they couldn’t be bothered to show the rest of the series. Maybe once that coveted Thursday at 4am slot becomes available, they might be shown there.


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