This was great Saturday night entertainment in the nineties. Anneka Rice running, using an enormous mobile phone and driving round in a beach buggy – what’s not to love?
Anneka was previously best known from Treasure Hunt but I was just a tad too young to remember that. However the running around was replicated here.
Each week Anneka was set a challenge, initially they were feasible – refurbish a community centre, resurface a road riddled with potholes – yes prime time entertainment. Later challenges were more epic, constructing bridges across water or even kitting out a Ukrainian orphanage for example.
The premise was that Anneka had no idea of what she would be up against until the challenge started, usually delivered via a cryptic clue which would then quickly resolve itself.
The real challenge was to organise the manpower and equipment needed to take on the challenge. All provided for free. Anneka using her giant mobile phone to request items like P-L-Y (cue infamous blooper).
At the time it was all very tense and believable, constant updates on how many days, hours or minutes were left and occasionally Anneka failed.
However believable it seemed, it was later confirmed much of challenges were pre-arranged. Imagine the scandal if that happened today!
The themetune was a classic too as was the title sequence with Anneka whizzing round a cartoon world fix problems.
According to the reliable source of Wikipedia Anneka attempted to pitch a show twenty years after the original started but by the BBC reckoned that the show had slipped away from public memory by then.
However Anneka did revive the show very briefly on ITV. Same format, same theme tune but very little promotion. It faded with little trace and the suggestion that with health and safety being much tighter making a programme like that would be much harder now.
We do however have DIY SOS which morphed from being another makeover show to being along similar lines to Challenge Anneka or the Challenge programme as she always referred to it.