Treasure Hunt: Anneka Rice, racing hearts and beads of sweat

WHEN Treasure Hunt is mentioned, maybe thoughts of a gleaming pirate’s face dazzled by a chest full of gold come to mind. Treasure Hunt could conjure memories of childhood: excitedly hunting around the garden for hidden Easter eggs or birthday presents. There were no signs of fine jewellery or chocolate eggs in Channel 4’s iconic show, but there was a host, contestants, a helicopter, camera-men and skyrunner Anneka Rice.

Thursdays at 8pm was the time to tune-in and watch host Kenneth Kendall introduce the show. We’d take in the beautiful scenery and historic buildings as Anneka was flown to each of the clue destinations in the helicopter. The aim of Treasure Hunt was for the team (Kenneth, contestants and Anneka) to solve the clues and find ‘The Treasure‘ so the contestants won a Thousand pounds. Anneka’s task was made complicated by the fact that the host and contestants could not see her and vice versa; they relied on verbal communication using 1980s technology.

The thing with Treasure Hunt was this: by the end of the show it had felt like you, the viewer, had run a steady marathon; hearts were racing and there were beads of sweat dampening sofas across the country. The reason for the gradual increase in heart-rate was not necessarily because of Annika’s rear, but because of the sheer logistics and format of the show, usually producing a frantic finale. Maybe, at the start, we were trapped into a false sense of calmness: Anneka, with her trademark beaming smile, standing at the most picturesque settings – the contestants, whom seemed like they were thousands of miles away, smiling and chatting with Kenneth in the studio; this was the calm before the chaos. The heart-rate increase began when the first clue was read-out and Anneka raced to the helicopter. From then-on, Annika dashed to-and-from different locations trying to find clues whilst communicating with the contestants via a headset; the contestants, in the comfort of the studio, surrounded by an extreme wealth of knowledge in the form of books and encyclopedias, got agitated whilst demanding ‘what can you see?’  to the run-off-her-feet skyrunner. Anneka had to climb, dive, swim, jump, row boats, rugby-tackle, negotiate and interrupt in order to solve the five clues and collect items relating to them! The whole scenario sounds like a fanastic gaming concept for the PlayStation or Xbox.

At the end of the show, whether the result was jubilation or everyone feeling as flat as a tortilla-wrap, heartbeat rates began to get back to some kind of normailty. Anneka had ran her socks-off and was probably looking forward to ditching the sweaty outfit, jumping in the shower and relaxing with a glass of wine. To be honest, she was the ideal skyrunner: there was always a flow of banter and knowledge pouring from her lips – combining this with a few dollops of delightful-personality, pretty good map-reading skills and a fabulous smile, Channel 4 had a winning programme. As the closing credits rolled, many viewers dried their sweaty hands, dragged themselves off the sofa and got a calming drink. Treasure Hunt was over, and the next stop was ITV for Minder – a programme where the heart-rate stayed at a steady-stroll and sweat was kept-in-check.

Enjoyed the blog? A nostalgic collection of blogs featuring a fun and factual look back at British advertising, leisure and entertainment from the 70s and 80s are featured in the new hardback book, Section N Underpass. Get the rundown here by clicking the front cover below:

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