Anneka Rice, 49, shot to fame in Challenge Anneka. The show, which ran from 1989 for six years, showed her racing around the country in a huge blue truck, persuading people and businesses to help her complete madcap charitable tasks by giving their time and resources for free. She slipped out of public life to raise her three sons, who she lives with in Barnes, and study art, returning recently with a series of Challenge Anneka specials. Anneka Rice works with Flora pro.activ to raise awareness about raised cholesterol. For more details, visit www.annekaspledge.co.uk.
So what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?
For some reason I always wanted to work at the BBC. I thought that even if I got a menial job there in a typing suite or making tea, the environment would be stimulating. I started my career in the media at an early age. I was a trainee at the BBC working for the World Service on a two-year training scheme which was spent in offices and studio. When I was 19 I bought a one-way ticket to Hong Kong, where I had the most amazing experiences. I worked for a PR agency and also as a presenter and in the evenings I dubbed kung-fu movies!
When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?
My parents read The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Express – I never read them though.
And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
I don't remember listening to much radio except for Radio 1 as a teenager. The TV programmes I liked were Colditz, Wacky Races, Monty Python and The Two Ronnies.
Describe your job.
I am a broadcaster and have had a wide range of jobs over the years. I am also a mum and I had a break from the media for about 12 years in order to raise my children. Now that they are older I have returned to TV.
What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?
In the car I listen to Radio 4 and when at home I like to watch GMTV in bed to see what my friend Penny Smith is up to. If her hair has grown I will then text her and tell her "I haven't seen you for three inches!!"
Do you consult any media sources during the working day?
Yes. Mainly the BBC to see if there is any breaking news.
What is the best thing about your job?
I love the variety of my job – not being in one place all the time. I don't enjoy being in an office as I like being out in the fresh air. I find the Challenge programmes incredibly rewarding and no day is the same. I love championing good causes – animal welfare, Third World poverty, under-privileged children, education – through to heart health.
And the worst?
People taking photos of me on their mobile phones on the Tube or when I am out shopping.
How do you feel you influence the media?
I think that Treasure Hunt and Challenge Anneka were groundbreaking at the time and spawned an era of reality type shows which are so popular now. But more importantly the shows relied on hand-held filming and spontaneous presenting which was quite unusual at this time.
What's the proudest achievement in your working life?
The Challenge programme has to be one of my proudest achievements. In total we completed 64 projects all over the world and millions of pounds worth of services, donations and equipment were given. I am still in touch with many of the people that I worked with on the challenges. Recently I worked on the Over The Rainbow album with a variety of stars and children to produce an album in just five days to help raise money for children in hospices across the UK. I am so pleased that the project was such a success and helped so many children. It was a very moving experience.
What's your most embarrassing moment?
I was reading the news bulletin in Hong Kong and Spike Milligan came into the studio and crawled under my desk.
At home, what do you tune in to?
I like to watch BBC1 when I have the time but life is so busy I don't have much time to sit and watch TV.
What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?
The Sunday Times is my favourite and I love the Culture section. I take parts of the paper with me when I am out and about – it probably takes me about a week to read the whole thing.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire
I would like to use the power of TV to get the government to allow teachers to get on and do their job without interference. This is a subject that I feel passionate about.
If you didn't work in the media what would you do?
I would love to paint or teach. I studied art during my time off from the TV. I enjoy painting nudes. If I never worked again I would love to just sit by the sea and paint. I would love the opportunity to be able to pass on passion for a subject and to inspire children to achieve.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
Bruce Forsyth. He is the ultimate professional.
1975 Joins the BBC as a trainee on World Service
1977 Moves to Hong Kong and spends three years working at a PR agency and moonlighting as a news presenter on TVB Pearl
1980 Hits TV screens in the UK on Treasure Hunt and goes on to present Wish You Were Here, Driving Force and Holiday before devising Challenge Anneka
1995 Raises three children and studies at the Chelsea College of Art
2003 Absolute Power with Stephen Fry; appears on The Wright Stuff, Brush With the Wild, QI and The Graham Norton Show
2006 Challenge Anneka returns (on ITV)
2007 Presents Sunday Feast on ITV and further Challenge Anneka specials