The reboot of Challenge Anneka and where the show began

Challenge Anneka was a British television show that aired from 1989 to 1995 with returns in 2006 and 2023. Hosted by Anneka Rice, the show followed Rice as she completed various challenges to help charitable causes. The show was known for its high-energy format and innovative challenges, which often required Rice and her team to complete tasks in a limited amount of time.

History of the Show

Challenge Anneka began as a one-off special in 1987, where Rice was challenged to build a playgroup in just one day. The show was so popular that it was commissioned as a regular series, and Rice went on to complete over 50 challenges in the years that followed. The challenges ranged from building schools and hospitals to rescuing animals and helping disadvantaged communities.

Format of the Show

Each episode of Challenge Anneka followed a similar format. Rice would receive a request from a charitable organization or community, and would have a limited amount of time to complete the challenge. Rice would assemble a team of experts, including engineers, builders, and volunteers, and would set out to complete the challenge.

The challenges themselves were often highly ambitious and required a great deal of planning and coordination. In one episode, Rice was challenged to build a youth center in just three days, while in another, she was tasked with rescuing a group of animals from a flooded zoo.

Legacy of the Show

Challenge Anneka was a huge success during its run and continues to be remembered fondly by fans. The show was praised for its innovative format and its ability to raise awareness for important causes. Many of the challenges completed on the show had a lasting impact, such as the construction of a hospice in Sussex and the restoration of a historic pier in Weston-super-Mare.

In recent years, there have been calls for a revival of Challenge Anneka, with many fans eager to see Rice back on their screens. Whether or not the show returns, it remains an important part of British television history and a testament to the power of philanthropy and community spirit.

2023 saw the return of Challenge Anneka on Channel 5 though it got dropped from it’s prime saturday night slot after just two episodes depsite 1.25 million viewers tuning in.

The reboot, starring Anneka Rice, 64, sees the star recycling her old jumpsuits and returning to the iconic role, however the second episode pulled in less than half a million viewers.

In response to the rescheduling, a spokesperson for Channel 5 said: “The first episode of Challenge Anneka was enjoyed by 1.25 million / 10% viewers, but Saturday evenings are always highly competitive, especially at this time of year.

“The public and critical reaction to Challenge Anneka’s return has been amazing and we have decided to preserve the remaining two shows and reschedule them soon.“

The original Challenge Anneka, which aired on BBC1 for six series from 1989 to 1995, had a peak of 12 million viewers.

It was based on Treasure Hunt, an earlier Channel 4 show when Anneka would arrive by helicopter.
This reboot retains some of its 90s charm as the bubbly blonde, usually running around with a camera crew, tries to finish a charitable project against the clock by persuading good-willed souls to chip in.

“I’m just going to hit the phones,” Anneka said, cracking on in the first episode.

However, not everyone remembers who she is.

“I’m Anneka Rice from the Challenge Anneka show, are you familiar with it? No? Is there anyone there a bit older?”, she asks optimistically.

Anneka revealed many TV companies have discussed reboots in the past, including a false start on ITV in 2006 after two specials.

She said she was attracted to Channel 5’s version because they didn’t want to tinker with the concept.

“Apart from a satnav in the buggy, and our wonderful production team being able to access people online, rather than sifting through Yellow Pages, viewers will find it weirdly similar,” Anneka explained.

“People still use paintbrushes and you still have to wait for plaster to dry.

“At the end of the day, it’s a programme about communities and volunteers.

“The programme shines a spotlight on the disenfranchised and harnesses the power of television as a force for good.”

Author Profile

Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman
Mark Boardman is an established showbiz journalist and freelance copywriter whose work has been published in Business Insider, Daily Mail, Bloomberg, MTV, Buzzfeed and The New York Post amongst other press. Often spotted on the red carpet at celebrity events and film screenings, Mark is a regular guest on BBC Radio London and in-demand for his opinions for media outlets including Newsweek. His TV credits include This Morning, The One Show and T4. Email

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