The Chase’s Anne Hegerty talks about her life since TV show fame

''Everything's changed.''
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Three years before she found fame as ‘The Governess’ on The Chase, Anne Hegerty was hauling a suitcase full of dirty clothes through a Manchester park when a mugger accosted her.

“I was walking across the park to the laundrette because I was so broke that I couldn’t afford to get my washing machine fixed,” Anne tells TV WEEK. “This kid on a bicycle with a scarf covering his face rode up beside me and said, ‘If you give me your bag in 20 seconds I won’t get my weapon out.’ And I think I said something along the lines of, ‘I’m not f-ing giving you my f- bag, f- off!'”

These days, Anne can afford to buy any number of new washing machines. That fearlessness she showed in standing up to the mugger has helped make her one of the most popular Chasers in both the UK and Australian versions of the quiz show.

“One of the reasons I could be ‘The Governess’ is I don’t get nervous before the Final Chase,” she explains.

“I just look at people and think, ‘Yeah, I could take you.'”

Anne out and about with her fellow Chasers (from far left) Matt Parkinson, Cheryl Toh, Issa Schultz and Brydon Coverdale.

(Image: Instagram)

At 65, Anne Hegerty is the oldest Chaser. She started her working life as a journalist, then did a brief stint in children’s publishing, where she wrote two books released under the name Richard Scarry (“They weren’t actually very good,” she insists), before moving into academic publishing, working as a freelance editor.

“I was good at that, but I wasn’t good at keeping the administration sorted,” she says. “I wasn’t getting things back on time, and everything was spiralling downwards.” In 2003, Anne was diagnosed with autism.

“One of the things is what they call ‘executive dysfunction’, which means you find it really difficult to get things going. I do find myself sitting and trying to picture, ‘What am I going to do? OK, I’m going to have a shower. Right. Put towel there, put bathmat there…’ and you plod your way through it.”

Anne was never one for trivia nights (“I didn’t really have anyone else to go with”), but in 2009 discovered the UK’s high-level quizzing circuit. The Chase was in its early days, and producers were looking for a female Chaser.

The following year, Anne was on air in the UK, and when Australia launched its own version of the show in 2015, she was flown out to be on it.

“People ask me, ‘How has The Chase changed your life?’ and I say, ‘Completely.’ It feels like nothing is the same.”

Anne is godmother to Mark Labette’s (centre) son and buys him “incredibly unsuitable” gifts. “I gave him a toy crossbow last year.”

(Image: Channel Seven)

While Anne still has her place in Manchester, she now rents a flat near London, and she recently bought a brand-new car for the first time.

Filming The Chase Australia, she was able to answer a question about music show Countdown because she knows its legendary long-time host, Molly Meldrum.

“I’ve been to his house,” Anne says. “Just hanging out with legendary people… it’s extraordinary.”

Anne’s fame has also brought her plenty of male admirers.

“I’m very happy with my own company, so I tend to let them down gently,” she says. “But it’s nice to know that there are that many options out there if I want it.”

Anne embraces her formidable TV persona.

(Image: Channel Seven)

In the UK, Anne has appeared on several other shows, including Britain Get Singing, where judge described her voice as “spectacular”, and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! She’s also performed in Pantomime, and would love to do more acting.

“Back home in the UK, the guy who writes our funny lines on The Chase has written a sitcom with a part in it for me. It’s about these two rather dim middle-aged brothers who live together and I’m their housekeeper. It would be lovely to get that made.”

After 13 years on TV, there’s something Anne still can’t get over: her popularity.

“I’d never been popular and I’m absolutely amazed by all these people who love me,” she admits. “I think, ‘Well, you obviously can’t know me terribly well!’ But yeah, it’s nice.”

But in real life, she isn’t at all like her quiz-show alter ego.

(Image: Getty)

Watch The Chase each weekday at 5pm on Channel 7.

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