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Mentorn's Challenge Anneka crosses the pond

UK production outfit Mentorn has scored a brace of new stateside deals for its 1980s format Challenge Anneka plus its Robot Wars, cementing its US bridgehead.

Disney-owned network ABC has ordered a one-hour Xmas special Challenge America with Erin Brockovitch: The Miracle of Manhattan, fronted by the renowned 'people's champion' Brockovitch.

The show will be aired live from NYC on 21 December and is based on the Television Corporation subsidiary's Challenge Anneka gameshow. The UK series aired on BBC1 between 1989-1994 and starred Anneka Rice (Treasure Hunt), invariably Lycra-clad, who had to complete various charitable deeds within tiny timeframes: eg. build an orphanage in Kenya within 48 hours.

The format was devised by Rice and her producer Malcolm Heyworth from her days on Treasure Hunt. The UK show also began life as a one-off stunt for charity: the BBC's Children in Need appeal in 1987. The show won a Bronze Rose of Montreux in 1991.

{Challenge America has enormous potential,{ said Mentorn's ceo Tom Gutteridge. {Its success we believe will trigger an enormous interest in the Challenge Anneka format worldwide.{

Mentorn's other US deal is an order for a second season of Robot Wars from Viacom. Another 13 half-hours has been greenlit, following a good innings for the first series of the US version of the show on Viacom-owned cable channel TNN.

{The re-commission for Robot Wars now establishes the programme firmly in the US television landscape,{ added Gutteridge. The new US series will air in the New Year.

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