Anneka started her career on the BBC production-training course and then worked for The World Service on “The World Today” and “Twenty-Four Hours” as a production assistant. She also worked with the legendary Monica Sims on a report about violence on television, thus gaining an invaluable insight into how the BBC self-regulates. She then spent the next three years in Hong Kong working for a public relations agency by day and as a sub-
editor in the newsroom of the English-speaking tv channel, TVB Pearl, by night. One evening the newsreader was ill, she stepped in, and carried on presenting the evening news for over a year. She also dubbed numerous kung-fu movies at Sir Run Run Shaw’s studios each night. She produced a successful book, “A Children’s Guide to Hong Kong” and also a weekly motoring show for RTHK called “Wheelbase”. Her work took her all over Asia.
By the time she returned to the UK with five years of broadcasting experience under her belt she was still only 22. She shot to fame in this country as the Sky-Runner in Channel 4’s “Treasure Hunt”, still Channel 4s highest rated programme. This firmly established her as Britain’s Action Girl. She presented “Sporting Chance”, TVAM, “Driving Force”, “Wish You Were Here”, “Capital Woman”, “Combat”, “Holiday”, “The Royal Variety Performance” and numerous other shows. Before “health and safety” had been invented, she jumped out of planes, landed helicopters on submarines, pot-holed in treacherous conditions, climbed mountains and generally risked life and limb on a weekly basis.
On the Action Girl theme, she produced a series of books and videos called The Adventure Series, she brought out a range of jumpsuits and she was immortalized in Madame Tussauds, hanging from a rope ladder in the foyer.
She went on to devise the award-winning “Challenge Anneka” for BBC-l. Each week the Challenge team took on a seemingly impossible task which had to be completed entirely with the help of volunteers and donated materials and supplies. The projects included the renovation of a Romanian orphanage, the equipping of a refugee camp in Malawi, and the building of bridges, soup kitchens, holiday camps for disadvantages youngsters, centres for the disabled, the list goes on. The Challenge programme raised millions of pounds worth of supplies and services for charities and communities and has left an amazing legacy around the world. The format has been sold on to many other territories and Anneka is still closely involved with most of the projects..
When Anneka’s children were small she decided to change her life completely and took an extended sabbatical to raise her children and study at Chelsea College of Art. During this time she totally dropped out of public life and concentrated on her painting.
In the last few years she has dipped into new projects. She developed the “Challenge” format for ABC in America with Erin Brockavich taking on her role. The format has also been sold to many territories in Europe, the latest being the Netherlands.
Her radio work includes “The Waiting Game” for Radio 4, a nine-part series on pregnancy; “In the Life Drawing Class”, “Start the Week” and “Loose Ends” and she played herself in “The Archers” when the residents of Ambridge challenged Anneka to renovate their village hall. Earlier this year she was delighted to be invited back to Ambridge to re-open the newly refurbished village hall, 23 years on.
Anneka presents The Happening on Radio 2 on Friday nights, and is the regular stand-in for Jonathan Ross on The Arts Show, and also for Steve Wright’s Love Songs. This year she also presented a series on Loneliness and a documentary about the Brit School.
In May she had a garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, the Anneka Rice Colour Cutting Garden, designed alongside Sarah Raven and Tricia Guild.
Over the Summer she has been revisiting many of her Challenge Anneka projects, celebrating their 25th anniversaries, for ITV’s This Morning.
Her latest passion is befriending. She would like everyone to “adopt” an elderly person and help battle loneliness.
She continues to paint and is part of Maggi Hambling’s Master Class. Her exhibition “Exposure” was on at the Hampstead Theatre earlier this year, focusing on the vulnerability of performers.
She is currently working on an exhibition for the Central School of Ballet.
She recently took part in C4’s The Hunted. From the off she relied on the kindness of strangers and the sisterhood shown to her was breathtaking. One woman took her on a 5 hour road trip; a farmer’s wife took her in and tucked her up in a shepherd’s hut; another woman offered her her own bed for the night and slept on the floor. She loved being a fugitive and is considering a life of light crime.
Anneka has recently been on Hunted, Harry Hill Alien Fun Capsule, hosted the Radio 2 Arts Show and Radio 4 My Teenage Diaries.