We were quite excited to see that the very first episode of Challenge Anneka was uploaded to Youtube last night. Provided you don’t count the very very first which wasn’t so much an episode as a happening, putting on an event on the River Thames for Children in Need in a day all played out live.
What strikes me as being quite interesting is that when you talk about reality TV (which is quite a nebulous concept in itself) and its beginnings no-one ever really mentions Challenge Anneka and yet clearly whilst the ideas have been refined over the past thirty years, many of the elements are already here. It basically invented logistics as entertainment and as such so many shows owe a debt to it, from makeover shows such as Ground Force all the way up to things like DIY SOS and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Thankfully they didn’t use Logistics With Anneka Rice as the title. It was quite interesting when ITV did a reboot they spent much more time on the human interest angle when really we all wanted more of Anneka getting a spreadsheet out and commanding trucks to go places.
Of course these days it looks a bit contrived, a bit like a lot of modern reality television (a lot of it feels very set up – just apparently barging onto Wogan!) but we were less media savvy in the 90s. It’s impressive how many companies were willing to throw in some chipboard just to get a plug on the BBC.