Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anneka's Help Is What Delhi Needs

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Anneka's Help Is What Delhi Needs

Article excerpt

Byline: TOM GUTTERIDGE

CHALLENGE Anneka, that's what Delhi needs right now. A lycra-clad superwoman rushing around the city in a buggy with just a mobile phone and a television network for help.

She'd have the job done as soon as you could say "product placement".

"Gosh, we need 1,500 plumbers, 1,000 electricians and 7,000 mattresses to replace the ones the wild dogs walked over, and our athletes are arriving by teatime" she'd gush to her trusty soundman and in a trice an army of volunteers would appear.

Seeking no more recompense than a smile from their heroine and a plug for their employers' companies, the workers would set to and, just before the opening ceremony, the last paintbrush would be put down, the lights switched on and everyone would cheer.

I have a terrible feeling it isn't going to end that way. As I write this, the Indian army has been summoned and it looks as though some poor athletes are just going to have to grin and slum it.

When I wrote the first Radio Times blurb for Challenge Anneka - "Making the impossible possible through the power of television" - I already knew it wasn't going to be easy. Our first challenge was a disaster, largely because I naively thought you could restore the White Horse of Weymouth in an afternoon.

You could if you had the Indian army and 1,000 tons of Portland stone waiting in a layby. We only managed to muster a few boy scouts and seven volunteers from the local Rotary Club, and just about completed the horse's head by the end of the show.

We took no chances for the rest of the series. Three highly efficient television producers called Julia, Janine and Beverley planned it all like a military campaign.

Could we build a footbridge over a Cornish river in just a weekend? Of course not. It took three months to persuade British Steel to give us the materials, and a contractor to turn it into struts, and a transport firm to loan us a lorry to carry it. …

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