She changed her name to Anneka when she joined the British actors union Equity, as her birth-name had already been registered with that organisation.
Beginning her TV career as a trainee PA working on The World Today for the BBC World Service, at age 19 she moved to Hong Kong where she presented the news on English language television station TVB Pearl. Upon returning to the UK three years later, she worked as a secretary in the BBC Children’s department.
In 1983, she landed her first major TV job as the jump-suited, constantly-in-motion skyrunner in Treasure Hunt which was hosted by former BBC newsman Kenneth Kendall. Cameraman Graham Berry was nominated for three BAFTA awards for his camerawork on Treasure Hunt, of which he won one in 1984. Both Berry and helicopter pilot Keith Thompson went on to become minor celebrities, whilst Rice left the show when she fell pregnant in 1988 (being replaced by former tennis player Annabel Croft). Treasure Hunt was also nominated for a BAFTA award in 1986 in the category “Best Light Entertainment Programme”.
In 1986, she was awarded the “Rear of the Year” award via The Sun newspaper ; an unsurprising award, since her posterior had featured so much in the lens of Berry’s camera.
After hosting the BBC’s Children In Need appeal, Rice launched her own programme Challenge Anneka in 1989, a series which was to run for another 5 years and was recently revived by ITV as part of their Christmas 2006 schedule.
Career break and personal life
Rice was married to theatre boss Nicholas Allott. Allott and Rice split in 1992, and from that year she dated TV executive Tom Gutteridge. But they parted six months after her third son, Sam, was born in 1997. In 1994 Rice presented Capital Woman, a weekly women’s magazine programme for Carlton Television (ITV), which, like Challenge Anneka, was produced by Tom Gutteridge’s company Mentorn. Later she also presented Holiday for BBC1. In 1995 Challenge Anneka was axed by the BBC.
Rice decided to quit television to spend time with her two children Thomas (born 1989); and Josh (born 1990), and spent five years studying painting at Chelsea College of Art. So total was Rice’s disappearance from the public eye that Madame Tussaud’s even melted down her waxwork. In 2005 she was linked to writer Simon Bell.
Return to TV
As a result of her owning the rights to Challenge Anneka, Rice returned to TV in a co-producer role in September 2001 when she was approached by the ABC network in the U.S. to produce a new series based on the same format, where it was branded Challenge America hosted by Erin Brockovich.
After finishing her art degree, in 2003 Rice returned to presenting on the Five show Dinner Doctors alongside the relationship advisor Jenni Trent Hughes.
As well as all her TV and radio work, Rice has also written books on skiing and scuba-diving. In 2005, she endorsed a line of anti-aging products.
Returning to the limelight, Rice had the lead role in The Vagina Monologues which played at Birmingham Hippodrome from 31 January to 4 February 2006.
Rice returned to ITV1 in June of 2006 to co-host the new Sunday morning cookery show, Sunday Feast. She also took part in the ITV programme Extinct presented by Sir Trevor McDonald and Zoe Ball which saw Rice and seven other well known celebrites visit endangered animals in their natural habitat and try and plead their case so that the viewers would pick up the phone and vote for their animal to receive a large sum of money to try and save them from extinction. Rice’s chosen animal was the Polar Bear. Rice did not win as the money went to the Bengal Tigers and their celebrity Pauline Collins.
On 9 June 2006 it was announced that Challenge Anneka is returning, but this time on ITV. The first of three specials was broadcast on Boxing Day 2006. A further episode was aired on 6th June 2007. In September 2007, she is appearing in the third series of Hell’s Kitchen.
- Treasure Hunt (1982–1989)
- Wish You Were Here…? (presenter)
- Good Morning Britain (presenter)
- Aspel & Company (guest – March 1986)
- The Grand Knockout Tournament
- Challenge Anneka (presenter 1989–1995, 2006/7) nominated for two technical BAFTAs in 1991
- KYTV (guest – June 1990)
- 2Point4 Children (guest appearance – September 1992)
- So Graham Norton (guest appearance – February 2001)
- I Love 1980s (guest appearance – March 2001)
- Ready, Steady, Cook (guest – June 2001)
- A Question of TV (guest appearances – August 2001)
- Remotely Funny (guest – July 2002)
- RI:SE (breakfast show guest, February 2003)
- Dinner Doctors (presenter)
- Richard & Judy (June 2003)
- Absolute Power (November 2003)
- Hell’s Kitchen (May 2004)
- QI (aka Quite Interesting) (November 2004)
- Have I Been Here Before? (May 2005)
- Our Survey Says: The Ultimate Game Show Moments
- The Big Call (guest – June 2005)
- The Wright Stuff (guest panelist – September 2005)
- Holiday (presenter)
- Sporting Chance
- Driving Force
- Capital Woman
- Come Dine With Me (Celebrity Special – July 2006)
- Hell’s Kitchen (Contestant – September 2007)