Anneka Rice is to dust off her jumpsuit and relaunch Challenge Anneka, a reality TV hit from nearly 30 years ago involving her flying into an area to complete a good cause against the clock.
Announcing a remake of the programme for Channel 5, Rice said: “There will always be a room for challenge on television, because it’s about kindness, it’s about community, it’s about the power of the collective. As humans we are totally hardwired to be altruistic.”
The original show, which aired on the BBC from 1989 to 1995, with audiences of up to 12 million people, involved Rice landing by helicopter into area of which she had no prior knowledge.
Her challenge was to accomplish a charitable project in limited time by persuading people and companies to help.
Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme about the relaunch, Rice said: “It might not be on the screen, but it’s been in my heart for the last 30 years because I’m still so involved with all those projects. The issues might look a bit different today, but they’re not at its heart.”
She cited a project to help orphaned Romanian children that the original programme had helped to establish. She said that as adults the same people she had helped then were now involved in providing shelter for refugees from Ukraine.
She said: “That absolutely floored me because it was like one humanitarian crisis 30 years ago, rolling into another one.”
Rice suggested the relaunched programme would help challenge stereotypes about the role of older women on television, just as her original programmes had broken new ground in the role of female presenters.
She said Treasure Hunt, a forerunner to Challenge Anneka on Channel 4, “put a woman absolutely in control right in the centre of the action driving the narrative. It really changed the face of TV and in a lot of ways, and I want to sort of fly the flag for women today”.
She said: “Forty years ago, you have to remember where women were placed in television. They were usually either draped over cars as a prize on a quiz game or they were behind a news desk.”
She said there was now too much focus on the age of female presenters compared with their male counterparts.
Rice said: “I feel just the same as they did 30 years ago, but possibly there’s more conversation about how we look, or about how we might be coping with it, whereas for men they just get on and do it, and their image and brand stays intact.”
She said Channel 5’s director of programming, Ben Frow, did not want to update the programme for a social media generation.
“He didn’t want to change anything. He wanted analogue. He wanted Dave the sound man, the truck and that absolutely powered this whole thing. I don’t think it needs [updating] because at the end of the day, it’s about community,” Rice said.
Filming is due to start later this year. Rice said if members of the public had ideas for projects, they could email: email@example.com