Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Anneke Finds Treasure: Tramuntana

The same size as Cornwall and three million tourists a year. Granted Cornwall isn't quite Clacton, but I'm sticking with my only way is the same size as Essex. Three million? Look, let's not be over-picky. This was 1984 after all, and we had to be merciful that our lives had not become dominated by Big Brother. Not then anyway. TV-land had yet to become the unreality of reality, and liberties applied. Helicopters could be flown. Blonde-haired presenters could run in pink jumpsuits followed by a cameraman with the lens trained on the backside of one particular presenter. Liberties were taken, but they were small liberties. Yes, Mallorca is roughly comparable in size to Cornwall but not as roughly comparable as Essex, and it was true that in 1984 there were three million tourists. And some more. Four million (at least) would have been more accurate.

This was "Treasure Hunt". In 1984 the treasure, for one episode, was to be found in Mallorca. It was ten years on from two great Mallorca moments in British television history - "Coronation Street" on holiday and the first ever "Wish You Were Here" with Judith and Jim chinking the champagne flutes on a pedalo in Magalluf - but in some respects it was light years away from both of these. The treasure had shifted from the goldmines of Palmanova and Magalluf to the mountains of the Tramuntana and the presentation had ceased to be coyly self-conscious. Because of her bottom, it is easy to overlook just how good Anneke Rice was. Dashing around in search of treasure and jumping in and out of a chopper, she could have been forgiven for not having consistently and endearingly worn a smile and for not having been able to improvise when mostly anyone else would have been so short of breath they wouldn't have been able to speak let alone have done some improv.

While Anneke represented a new breed of presenter, "Treasure Hunt" hadn't totally shaken off the stuffiness of the past. Kenneth Kendall, ex-schoolmaster, ex-Coldstream Guards and by then ex-news reader, was the studio-bound master of ceremonies whose delivery was pretty much like a news reader. Nowadays an equivalent of the homosexual Kenneth would have found camp innuendo in any exchange. Not Kenneth, though. "Are you ready with your instruments?" he enquired of Nettie, the studio adjudicator. "Let's hope for a smooth operation," responded Nettie, without any hint of an ooh-er missus from either of them.

The bookish Kenneth with a whole stack of books behind him introduced father-and-son team Patrick and Michael. Kenneth wished to know if Michael was enjoying his first year at Cambridge. Michael paused before saying, "yes, thank you." The politeness of both was overwhelming, but such was life thirty years ago, a life which included things like stacks of books. Perhaps the greatest curio of "Treasure Hunt" was that they relied on books. With no internet, all information about Mallorca was contained in a guide book. Several of them. The sight of Patrick, Michael and Kenneth poring over a map and texts didn't then and still doesn't make for great telly. The greatness lay with Anneke and the short travelogue she offered.

To the initiated of today, it would have been obvious where the hunt started. Sa Calobra. The clues would, for the most part, have been obvious too, as would have been the references. This was a treasure hunt to the Torre Picada above Sóller, to the town's tram, to the Archduke Louis Salvador's Son Marroig via the "I Claudius" of Graves and the "tir de fona" of slingshot competition, to the cell of Chopin and Sand in Valldemossa and finally to the manor house of La Granja. Knowledge was outweighed by lack of knowledge. Kenneth, as might have been expected, knew about Graves but didn't know about the Archduke. He was adept with the pronunciations. No one else was. "Val de Mozo?" asked Anneke, for whom the lingo was also a challenge. "Monsieur," she uttered several times on the tram. Tourists on the ground were of little use, apart from one who knew where Anneke's helicopter was when she seemed to have lost it.

But tourists there most definitely were. While Hilda Ogden had known how to spell Valldemossa ten years before, the mountains had in 1974 generally been a mystery to a tourist who confined him or herself to the beach and the bar. The new Mallorca of 1984, with an emphasis on its culture, was a deliberate development born out of social and political change, and "Treasure Hunt" reflected it. The views from the helicopter were stunning, Anneke marvelled at the rock formations. From Sa Calobra, across the sea by Sóller and to the buildings of Deya, Valldemossa and Esporles, she had found the treasure.

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