Treasure Hunt was a popular UK game show, based on the format of the French show La Chasse au Trésor, created by Jacques Antoine. It appeared on Channel 4 between 28 December, 1982 and 18 May, 1989 and was revived by BBC Two between 16 December, 2002 and 2 August, 2003.
Understandably, the skyrunner and helicopter did not have freedom to fly and land anywhere they wished. Although the pilot could to an extent request permission from airspace authorities to fly off-course, as happened on occasions, landings needed to be agreed in advance with landowners of a suitable location near the clue. On occasions the helicopter would land in a clearly marked out area, especially at public places. It is open to interpretation how much detail of the route was known in advance by either of the studio presenters or even the skyrunner herself, and hence to what extent the contestants were helped to correctly direct the skyrunner to the approximate location. Kenneth Kendall has always stressed that he did not know the clues and locations in advance, and any help that he gave the contestants was from his own knowledge. According to a "making of Treasure Hunt" programme, Anneka Rice was confined to the hotel on the day that the cameraman, video recordist and helicopter pilot undertook a rehearsal (typically the day before the programme was recorded), so she had no advance knowledge of the locations. This did not stop her carrying out research about the general area in order to have a stock of interesting facts to fill in any awkward silences that might arise while the contestants were thinking.
In the BBC's 2002-03 version, newsreader Dermot Murnaghan presented, the skyrunner was Suzi Perry, and there was no adjudicator. Advances in broadcasting technology meant that this new version could come from a much greater range of locations; however, the new version was quite short-lived. It is thought that the BBC felt the moderate ratings (not helped by a complete lack of promotion for the series) did not justify the budget required for the show.
Keith Thompson of Castle Air Charters was the usual helicopter pilot in both versions, though for overseas editions a local pilot was often used. There was always a "chase" helicopter which relayed radio signals back to London and, although this could never be used "tactically" by the contestants, it was not hidden from the viewers. The two crews would sometimes fly in formation to generate exciting footage. Both helicopters were usually Bell 206 JetRangers.
A feature was made of the camaraderie between the female presenter and the male recording and flight crews. This extended to many infamous shots of the presenter's rear as she ran from clue to clue in a jump-suit, which became the main focus of the programme's portrayal in the satirical TV series, Spitting Image. Cameraman Graham reaching in front of the camera to wipe away rain, sea spray, etc. with a cloth also became a well-known image from the series.
The 1982-89 series were later repeated on terrestrial television and the Challenge satellite and cable channel. The first episode was repeated on 30 October 2007 on the digital channel More4 as part of Channel 4's 25th anniversary celebrations. This was an one-off and there are no current plans to repeat the TV show.
The original run of the first series was watched by up to 900,000 viewers; however, by the mid-1980s, ratings were some of the highest for Channel 4 at around seven million.
Two charity editions of the show were produced, one locally in the London area for the Thames Television telethon in 1985 and another broadcast across the UK as part of the ITV network's Telethon '88. The show was also featured in an edition of the BBC children's aspiration show Jim'll Fix It (in which a viewer joined skyrunner Anneka Rice in the famous Treasure Hunt helicopter over the county of Surrey), The Paul Daniels Magic Show (BBC) and The Krypton Factor (Granada for ITV).
For all the UK series, the programme was a Chatsworth Television independent production in association with Tele Union Paris.
In 1989, Rice began her own BBC series, Challenge Anneka, in which she was set a different task to complete each week. Although essentially unrelated to the original concept of Treasure Hunt, there were some similarities between the shows, primarily the principles of Rice being up against a time limit and having a real chance of success or failure to complete a task with the aid of others.
BBC Three Counties Radio airs Treasure Quest each Sunday from 9am until 12pm. Andy Gelder in the studio and varying assistants in the radio car help two contestants to solve six clues over the three-hour period. BBC Radio Norfolk began their own version of Treasure Quest in 2008, on Sunday mornings from 9am to 12pm, with David Clayton presenting and Becky Betts in the radio car.
On London talk station LBC, presenter James O'Brien hosts The Treasure Hunt on Wednesday lunchtimes as part of his weekday show. In this format, callers ring in and request things they have been trying to get hold of, hoping that other listeners have the required items. Although otherwise unrelated to the original concept. the programme opens with the Treasure Hunt television series theme tune, and in August 2007, Anneka Rice recorded a voice-over lead-in for it.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||28 December 1982||17 March 1983||12|
|2||4 January 1984||29 March 1984||13|
|3||27 December 1984||5 April 1985||13|
|4||27 December 1985||20 March 1986||13|
|5||12 February 1987||14 May 1987||14|
|6||18 February 1988||19 May 1988||14|
|7||16 February 1989||18 May 1989||14|
|8||16 December 2002||20 December 2002||5|
|9||14 April 2003||2 August 2003||10|
|30 October 1985|
|29 May 1988|