Do you remember Anneka Rice way back in the Eighties in a TV programme called Challenge Anneka? She was the golden girl in a tight-fitting lycra jumpsuit who jumped out of a helicopter and ran along with a camera crew up her backside and made miracles happen.
I have always felt that Anneka Rice is my alter ego. Don’t laugh! Obviously without the golden hair, the jumpsuit or the helicopter. But she had my dream job then and she has it again now. She’s back.
Anneka is working with Phil Tufnell (not my ideal job necessarily, sorry Phil, lovely though you are) and the gifted gardener Joe Swift on the BBC’s The Flowerpot Gang and within 5 minutes of watching last week’s first episode, I was in tears again, rolling back the years and loving it. Anneka is required to use her same gifts, those of a smile and a hug and guile, nous, chutzpah and bare-faced cheek to scrounge materials and labour to somehow make something magical happen. In The Flowerpot Gang its a lovely healing garden.
Of course, the camera crew help as well when she’s asking for stuff as who wants to be seen on the BBC saying no, you won’t help do something nice for a good cause. I guess people do say no, they must edit those out, I guess they can’t all afford to give to Anneka, especially with things as they are right now. But when she rocks up with her physical charms, her smile, her TV crew and her big ask, men and women (especially men it seems) are putty in her hands. People are good souls.
I want Anneka’s job. I have always wanted it. And I too want to ask people to help me make magical things happen. And for abundant people to give me labour and materials to make beautiful gardens and manifest other wondrous stuff for humanity.
I did briefly flirt with the idea of adopting as my alter ego Montserrat Caballe, you know the big bird who sang Barcelona with Freddie Mercury, but that was in my singing days which are long gone. One of my friends (Hi Karen) still calls me Montserrat to this day! I can do a passable version of Barcelona too if you are ever in my neck of the woods and want a good laugh.
But my philanthropic days are not long gone and I find Anneka’s TV job and persona very inspirational indeed. So look out, I will be along soon, someday, one day, asking for your help. I don’t know what for yet. I think I can guarantee pretty much it won’t be with lustrous blonde hair, jumpsuit, helicopter and the BBC but in all other respects it will be the same.
And we shall find ourselves together doing good stuff for the benefit of those less fortunate than ourselves. And I will be the one in tears as another of my dreams comes true. For in my dreams I AM Anneka Rice.
The Flowerpot Gang is on BBC1 on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. for four weeks. Catch up on BBC iplayer.