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 now presents The Happening on Radio 2 as well as being a regular contributor to the Arts Show . The Challenge projects are now all celebrating their 21st – 25th anniversaries and so she has been visiting as many projects as she can, including the team and children, now adults, from the iconic Romanian Orphanage programme.
Her latest passion is befriending and she currently supports three ladies in their 90s in her local area. She would like everyone to “adopt” an elderly person and help battle loneliness. She is currently involved with the Radio 2 Campaign raising awareness about loneliness.
Anneka has recently appeared on the Channel 5 Secrets of the National Trust series and had her own garden featured at the Chelsea Flower Show this year.
She continues to paint and is part of Maggi Hambling’s Master Class. Her exhibition ‘Exposure’ is on at the Hampstead Theatre and focuses on the vulnerability of performers.