Treasure Hunt – an adventure entertainment 

18 July 2022


Cover of Television & Radio 1986

From Television and Radio 1986, published by the Independent Broadcasting Authority

In 1980, TeleUnion Paris launched a TV show called La Chasse au Tresor for Antenne 2. It proved to be an outright success and is now in its third series.

In 1981, Chatsworth Television producers Peter Holmans and Malcolm Heyworth decided to adapt the format of the French show and bring it to British television screens – the result, Channel 4’s Treasure Hunt, an adventure entertainment.

The series is presented by Kenneth Kendall and Anneka Rice and takes viewers on a treasure hunt around a variety of areas throughout the UK.

Two contestants are given the task of finding hidden treasure buried in specific areas throughout the UK. At their disposal in the studio, set up as an ‘operations room’, they have ordnance survey maps of the area in question, tourist guides and a wide range of encyclopaedias and reference books.

Outside on location is Treasure Hunt’s ‘Skyrunner’ – Anneka Rice. At her disposal is a Bel-jet helicopter. The contestants and Kenneth Kendall are linked to Anneka by direct radio contact, but unlike viewers, they cannot see her. Kenneth and Anneka are as much in the dark as the contestants as to the location of the treasure and the five clues the contestants have to solve to win the £1,000 [£3,100 now, allowing for inflation -Ed] prize.

Contestants play against the clock. They have 45 minutes to guide Anneka around the Treasure Hunt. Viewers will see Anneka’s progress as well as the contestants’ and the whole hour-long programme builds up to an exciting and hectic finish.

Anneka Rice has certainly earned her title ‘Skyrunner’. Throughout the series the demands of the programme have meant that Anneka has had to be incredibly fit and has been involved in numerous high-speed races against the dock.


Anneka and her crew run along a beach


Kenneth Kendall on the other hand, has been the calming factor trying to guide the contestants as well as solve the mystery himself – a challenge which he has not only enjoyed, but on the whole, been very successful at!

Technically, Treasure Hunt appears to be a live hook-up between the London studio and the distant location. In fact, as the accompanying diagram indicates, they are linked in sound only, though that ‘only’ is far from simple. The communications helicopter alone is fitted with four special radios, costing some £45,000 [£140,000].


Diagram showing how the technical connections of Treasure Hunt work


At one moment during the recordings, which are done in continuous real time, the system was not as infallible as expected and an irritated taxi driver found himself in contact with Anneka Rice!

Apart from Anneka herself, the most strenuous roles in Treasure Hunt are played by video cameraman Graham Berry and video recordist Frank Meyburgh. They not only have to keep up with her as she races against the clock, but carry their gear and avoid jogging the sensitive electronics. Berry’s efforts – backed up by his engineer colleague – won him the BAFTA award for video camerawork and their pictures, edited into the programmes afterwards, help to make it one of Channel 4’s most consistent successes.


Anneka with a pig


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