Recently I finished watching every single episode of Treasure Hunt, the classic 80s gameshow in which two contestants had to solve five cryptic clues against the clock and guide a ‘skyrunner’ around the course to find each clue. Originally running for 91 episodes in the 80s, Anneka Rice was the skyrunner for 77 episodes, before Annabel Croft took over for 13 episodes as Anneka was on maternity leave. It was rebooted in 2002 for a further two series and 15 episodes, bringing the grand number of Treasure Hunts to 106. In those 106 episodes, 46 teams were successful in locating the final treasure, solving an average of 4.38 clues in each show.
From a production point of view, the production values are high and the logistics of it is simply mind-boggling for the 1980s. To have a live (ok, just audio) link up from potentially the other side of the world to a roaming presenter, it’s technically challenging now, let alone 30 years ago. I can barely get a mobile phone signal in the office.
Over all those episodes, what were my favourite moments? Here are my top 5 clips.
NUMBER 5: Annie getting scared by a real person in a waxwork museum. (Skip to 3:20 for some searching and the payoff)
NUMBER 4: Annie has to ride a logflume to get a clue. I’d like to know what the contingency would have been if she’d missed it…
Start of the clue:
End of the clue:
NUMBER 3: Whenever Annie had to jump out of helicopter. She did have to do it a few times, and it was maybe a slightly overused gimmick because of that, but what an activity. Jumping OUT of a flying helicopter?! Health and safety would never allow that these days! Here’s one of the clues where Anne had to do just that (skip to 10:05 for the actual jump).
CLUE 2: The best written clue on Treasure Hunt. The clue simply read “In A Seahawk in a Seahawk in a Seahawk”. I’m not going to explain the clue, you’ll need to watch the two videos below to find out (it’s split across two videos).
Beginning of clue:
End of clue:
NUMBER 1: Well, if you thought jumping out of a helicopter troubled the Health and Safety department… this takes it up a notch. Actually, several notches. The contestants are told to go to a set of co-ordinates, but those contestants lead to the middle of the English Channel. Surely you think there’s no possible clue there… until a submarine rises up out of the ocean… and the helicopter then LANDS on it. It’s an incredibly narrow landing with waves breaking over the top of the submarine, it is superb flying and control from the helicopter pilot Keith and, presumably, the submarine controller as the helicopter will have been pushing down on the sub. The landing is in the clips below, and it’s simply stunning, which is why it’s my Number 1 Treasure Hunt moment. (The actual landing happens about a minute into the second clip, it does take them about seven or eight minutes to fly out to the co-ordinates).
Honorable mention: The series was revived with Suzi Perry as lead skyrunner back in 2002-2003, and a now good friend of mine David Bodycombe was a clue writer for the show. One of the clues required Suzy to go to a telegraph station and look in a pigeon hole as dictated by some morse code. Out of all the surnames in the world, and he didn’t know me at the time, he chose PEAKE!! I like to think of it as fate that just ten years later we’d be writing questions for the same show and becoming friends. Fate, I tell you. The clue is spread out over two clips, the Morse Code section of the clue starts two and a half minutes into the second clip below. PEAKE!! Amazing.
So that’s my top 5 Treasure Hunt moments, and there were plenty of other moments I could have chosen. Anneka getting clues from seals, abseiling/ascending cliffs, commandeering transport from unsuspecting members of the public, and also Anneka running into a horse and getting hurt. I do hope another show captures the energy, enthusiasm and inventiveness of Treasure Hunt – I look forward to watching it (and maybe even help make it) when it does.