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Challenge Anneka

“HELLO, IT’S ANNEKA FROM THE CHALLENGE PROGRAMME!” Aaargh, no it’s not, Anneka! That is NOT the name of the programme! Anyway, invented in 1987 as part of CHILDREN IN NEED, it spun off into a full series two years later, leaving TREASURE HUNT in the hands of Annabel Croft. Each week Annie would be challenged to do something to make the world a better place, whether making a charity record, restoring a youth club or, as the titles so memorably had it, building a bridge for some hedgehogs to cross the road. To go about this she had a brick-like mobile phone to cadge favours on (“P-L-Y wood? Oh, plywood!”), a snazzy buggy and a huge juggernaut with a full-size kitchen and bedroom we always wanted to stay the night in. Also great was the way she used to forever have to turn up on WOGAN or on Simon Bates’s Radio 1 show to ask the public to join in. Challenge purists, of whom we would count ourselves, would suggest it went down the dumper when they started revealing the challenges in advance in the Radio Times, where once they were sworn to secrecy. Still, it kept its fantastic theme throughout, including the sad slow version when things went wrong, so it can’t have been all bad.

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  1. Damon

    September 19, 2015 at 6:55 am

    I was on this programme. It was the final episode in series one where they took 20 disabled young people to Switzerland; the challenge was to teach us all to ski and send us down a slalaem course within two days. Oh what a jolly. Did I ever fall on my feet getting on this show, it was a great experience. I was about 18 and had become blind five years earlier; they focused on me quite a bit because at the airport I told them I hated sport. I didn’t even know they were pointing the camera at me at the time – aww.

    We all kind of knew about three days in advance that we would receive a phone call from Anneka and that we were all going to Switzerland to ski. I’d been walking through my school’s campus one Monday afternoon when my biology teacher grabbed me and said “do you want to go to Switzerland”, I said “yes”. Cue the aforementioned events.

    I later went on to make television programmes (I’m still at the BBC now). Clearly there had to be some kind of prior setup and a bigger production team than just its presenter involved else each programme would take months to make, but Anneka was pretty much left in the dark with a list of pointers and a call sheet as far as I know.

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