Kenneth Kendall – Host / 95 episodes, 1982-1989
Anneka Rice – Skyrunner / 81 episodes, 1982-1988
Wincey Willis – Adjudicator 70 episodes, 1984-1989
Annabel Croft – Skyrunner 14 episodes, 1989
Two charity editions of the show were produced, one locally in the London area for the Thames Television telethon in 1985 and another broadcast across the UK as part of the ITV network’s Telethon ’88. The show was also featured in an edition of the BBC children’s aspiration show Jim’ll Fix It, in which a young viewer joined Anneka Rice in the famous helicopter over the county of Surrey for a scaled down version of the show, in the Paul Daniels Magic Show (BBC) and in The Krypton Factor (Granada for ITV).
Keith Thompson of Castle Air Charters was the usual helicopter pilot in both versions, though for overseas editions a local pilot was often used. There was always a “chase” helicopter which relayed radio signals back to London and, although this could never be used tactically by the contestants, it was not hidden from the viewers.
The series used two Bell 206 Jetranger helicopters chartered from Castle Air. G-BHXU, piloted by Keith Thompson, was the main helicopter used by the Skyrunner and her entourage. A second helicopter, G-SPEY, piloted by Geoff Newman and later Michael Malric-Smith, shadowed BHXU as a communications aircraft. BHXU made later appearances in Interceptor (1989), among numerous other programmes, until a gearbox/rotor failure in 1995 forced it to ditch in the sea near Alderney in the Channel Islands. The pilot Michael Malric-Smith managed to escape unharmed.
A feature was made of the camaraderie between the female presenter and the male recording and flight crews. Shots from the rear as the presenter ran from clue to clue in a jump-suit were satirised on Spitting Image. Cameraman Graham reaching in front of the camera to wipe away rain, sea spray, etc. with a cloth also became a well-known image from the series.
In 1985, the cameraman, G Berry, was awarded a BAFTA for his contribution to the series.
A team of two contestants, always in the studio, had to use a library of (deliberately relevant) maps and reference materials to solve up to five clues, and communicate instructions via a radio link to a skyrunner who had the use of a helicopter. The contestants were given the first clue for free, the solving of which would lead to the location of the second clue and so on until a trinket or other significant object was found by solving the final clue. The contestants won a higher cash prize each time they solved a clue correctly. This was all done ‘against the clock’. Even once the contestants had solved the final clue, the skyrunner still had to confirm they were correct, by reaching the final target. On a few occasions, the contestants solved all five clues with time to spare, in which case, a bonus clue was given to the contestants. This typically resulted in their winning a bottle of champagne.
Created by Jacques Antoine
Presented by Kenneth Kendall (1982–1989)
Dermot Murnaghan (2002–2003)
Starring Anneka Rice (1982–1988)
Annabel Croft (1989)
Suzi Perry (2002–2003)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 9
No. of episodes 101 (including 9 specials)
Running time 60 minutes (including adverts)
Production company(s) Chatsworth Television (1982-1989, 2002-2003)
Thames Television (1985 & 1988)
In 1988, Rice left to have a baby, and her place was taken by tennis player Annabel Croft. In this series, the set was revamped due to a move to Thames Television’s facilities (the original studios were at Trilion in Soho, London, and then Limehouse Studios on Canary Wharf in Docklands, East London which was later earmarked for demolition to make way for One Canada Square),
The contestants would win a cash prize of £500
Limehouse Studios was an independently owned television studio complex built in No. 10 Warehouse (30 Shed) of the South Quay Import Dock. This was located at the eastern end of Canary Wharf in Limehouse near the Isle of Dogs in London, which opened in 1983. The building was demolished just six years later, in 1989, to make way for the massive Olympia & York development of Canary Wharf which now occupies the site