Strictly season is now just weeks away, with the excitement building after the Strictly Come Dancing contestant line-up was confirmed.
Rumours had been rife on as to who would join the popular BBC One dancing competition for its 17th season, with an EastEnders star, a CBBC host and an Olympic rower all on the list.
One of this year’s bunch is ’90s icon and presenter Anneka Rice – here’s everything you need to know about the Strictly Come Dancing contestant.
What is Anneka Rice best known for?
Landing her first job broadcasting as a teenager, Rice soon rose up in the ranks to become one of the best known faces in television.
Her first big break came in 1982 when she fronted Channel 4’s BAFTA-nominated game show Treasure Hunt.
Job: Presenter turned painter
Pro partner: Kevin Clifton
Treasure Hunt a bit before your time? Teams of two had to use a library of maps and reference materials to solve five clues, before communicating a list of instructions to the skyrunner (Anneka) up in the helicopter.
However, Rice may be best known for her 1989 game show Challenge Anneka – a series which ran for six years and made Rice a household name before it was cancelled in 1995.
What is Challenge Anneka?
The show came about after Rice tested the format on Children in Need. Each episode saw the star take on a series of challenges that she had to complete in a certain amount of time – and tended to involve her persuading companies to donate their resources and skills for free.
The challenge was usually for a good or charitable cause such as renovating an orphanage or building a children’s playground.
The show’s novelty stemmed from its trademarks: Rice’s big blue van, frequent use of a mobile phone and the perpetual presence of her soundman made the show popular among viewers.
The show briefly returned to ITV in 2006 for three specials, seeing Rice rebuild a maternity clinic, a cricket pavilion and a children’s play centre in Sri Lanka following the 2004 tsunami.
What does Anneka Rice do now?
Having stepped away from the public eye to complete an art degree, Rice has since hosted light entertainment programmes, such as the short-lived ITV cookery show Sunday Feast.
She appeared on Celebrity Mastermind in 2010. Her specialist topic was the life of Jean Rhys.
Most recently, Rice appeared in Richard Osman’s House of Games, a quiz show that launched on BBC Two in 2017.
Does Anneka Rice have any previous dance experience?
Rice has never really danced before – and claims to be the ‘Ann Widdecombe’ of the new series.
And her dance training has already hit a snag, having injured her shoulder ahead of the live shows.
“I injured my shoulder after falling on a slippery slope in my neighbours garden and ended up in A&E,” she said.
“I had a cortisone injection and was called in to see the producers and was told it was 50/50 whether I could still do Strictly. Thankfully, it ended up fine. The show must go on.”
However, partnered with Kevin Clifton, she’s likely to go quite far…
Has Anneka Rice done reality TV before?
Rice is no stranger to the reality TV format, having made her first foray into the genre in 2007 when she starred in the third series of Hell’s Kitchen.
The show saw a series of celebrities training in a restaurant kitchen under the fearsome Marco Pierre White, with Rice placing fifth.
Rice also put her Treasure Hunt skills to good use when she participated in Celebrity Hunted for Stand Up to Cancer in 2017, going off grid to avoid detection and raise money for charity. Rice was unfortunately discovered on Day 10.
Hopefully her Strictly stint will be more successful…
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Strictly Come Dancing returns to BBC 1 later this year