Anneka Rice has revealed she was left crying in a sofa shop when she found out the BBC was replacing her with Dermot O’Leary.
The television and radio presenter, 64, was told she was losing her Radio 2 weekend breakfast slot with only two weeks notice.
She was replaced by Dermot 49, in 2017, and was ‘shocked’ when her agent phoned to give her the bad news while she was out shopping for some new furniture.
Overcome with emotion, the mother-of-three was unable to leave the shop until she had calmed down.
Anneka, who had been working at the BBC for 46 years when she was let go, was ‘disappointed’ that nobody from the BBC contacted her to tell her personally.
Distraught: Anneka Rice has revealed she was left crying in a sofa shop when she found out the BBC was replacing her with Dermot O’Leary (pictured 2022)
Shocking: The television and radio presenter, 64, was told she was losing her Radio 2 weekend breakfast slot with only two weeks notice (pictured March 2023)
Replacement: She was replaced by Dermot 49, in 2017, and was ‘shocked’ when her agent phoned to give her the bad news while she was out shopping for some new furniture (pictured 2017)
She told the Off Air With Jane and Fi podcast: ‘The worst bit [of my time with the BBC] was when I lost my breakfast show on Radio 2 with two weeks notice having done it for over ten years.
‘I just got a call from my agent saying ‘you aren’t doing it from two weeks time’.
‘I actually was in a sofa shop at the time, and I remember sitting on in the sofa shop and just crying, I couldn’t leave, it was quite embarrassing.
‘It was disappointing that nobody from the BBC contacted me.
‘Then I thought that doesn’t matter because of course they’re going to give it to a younger feisty woman, and I was all up for that… and then it wasn’t, it went to Dermot O’Leary who I absolutely adore, but that was more of a shock.
‘I did a training course at the BBC 46 years ago, me and Tony Blackburn must be the longest serving BBC’ers in existence.’
Anneka made the comments as her most prolific 90s programme, Challenge Anneka, made a return to the UK’s screens.
During episodes of the show, which ran on the BBC between 1989 and 1995, Anneka and her team of volunteers would take on complicated tasks against the clock, usually to raise money for charity.
Famous challenges, which she usually undertook while donning her trademark blue and pink jumpsuit, included the building of a swimming pool for orphaned seals and putting up a suspension bridge in Cornwall.
Speaking about why the programme has been recommissioned, she said she believes it’s because the people now working in TV grew up watching the show.
‘I think it’s that the people who are now making television programmes remember it,’ she explained.
‘They were kids then. Now they’ve got the power. The commissioners at all these channels grew up on Challenge.’
Anneka announced in May that she would once again be fronting the programme, saying she hopes that the relaunched show will help to challenge stereotypes about gender roles on television, just as her original show did for female presenters.
Speaking on the forerunner to Challenge Anekka, a show she presented called Treasure Hunt, she told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘It put a woman absolutely in control right in the centre of the action driving the narrative.
‘It really changed the face of TV and in a lot of ways, and I want to sort of fly the flag for women today’.
She added: ‘Forty years ago, you have to remember where women were placed in television. They were usually either draped over cars as a prize on a quiz game or they were behind a news desk.’
Speaking about ageing as a woman, she again said she feels the same as she did 30 years ago, but added that ‘possibly there’s more conversation about how we look, or about how we might be coping with it, whereas for men they just get on and do it, and their image and brand stays intact.’
In the programme (pictured) Anneka and a team of volunteers would take on challenges they tried to complete within in set timeframe
Anneka has said her show Treasure Hunt, the forerunner to Challenge Anekka, ‘put a woman absolutely in control right in the centre of the action driving the narrative’ (Anneka Rice pictured presenting Treasure Hunt)
Speaking to PA News about the return of the programme, Anneka added: ‘I can’t believe this is actually happening. The last few years have shown us all the power of community and how it’s good to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
‘The whole team is as motivated as ever to make a difference and shine a spotlight on people and organisations who need help.
‘Three decades on, the issues may look different but at their core they are the same; they’re about people and communities.
‘And we may look a bit different too but our hearts and willingness to get stuck in are the same.’
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