inside back: Whatever happened to? Anneka Rice

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The Independent Online
Grain of Rice

A new phenomenon hits our screens in 1982. Anneka Rice: blonde-haired, blue eyed, aged mid-20s. Not all that new then. But in a new format: via helicopter, scouring the country on behalf of two studio contestants to find a pounds 1,000 prize. Treasure Hunt, a leading show in the new Channel 4's line-up has her as the "original high octane Heidi" (The Mail), in lurid stretch-to-fit cat-suit running to get that prize.

And the position of the camera means we always get a view of one part of her anatomy as it chases her. People want to get to the bottom of the question as to why she is always in the news. In 1986 she wins Miss Rear of the Year. Followed by more success with Television Personality of the Year in 1987. She then finds happiness with marriage to theatre-promoter Nick Allott in 1988.

Rice of passage

But after having a baby in 1989, she is replaced on Treasure Hunt by Annabel Croft. She'd become, according to her Channel 4 commissioning editor, "rather screechy".

She hits back with Challenge Anneka in the same year, which instead of her running for clues against the clock has her building things and talking to people against the clock, as part of the BBC's drive down-market. She delivers pounds 500, 000 worth of aid to Malawi and renovates an orphanage in Romania.

Rice girl

But a survey by Esquire in August 1992 on the sexual preferences of middle- class men between the ages of 18 and 45 gives Patsy Kensit the top vote at 21 per cent, with Anneka a lowly five per cent.

Stop the clock

Challenge Anneka is scrapped, with viewing figures down from 12 to 8 million in October 1993 and after A Holiday of a Lifetime ends too she buys a Cotswold country cottage in 1994 for semi-retirement - "I just want some peace". But some consider her a national asset. Jane Gordon of The Mail suggests she get involved with bigger projects, including helping to speed up the building of the British Library.

Today echoes another view - that "what people would really like to see is Anneka herself sent on a holiday of a lifetime. To the North Pole."

James Aufenast