Play for Today (1970–1984)
6 user 1 critic

Spend Spend Spend 

Autobiographical tale about Viv Nicholson who had a large Football Pools win in the early 1960s, and the ultimately destructive effect it had on her and her family.


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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Susan Littler ...
Helene Palmer ...
Vivian's Mother (as Helen Beck)
Vivian's Father
Stephen Bill ...
Keith's Granny
Philip Joseph ...
Public Relations Man
Jane Lowe ...
Public Relations Girl
Peter Mayock ...
First Reporter
Second Reporter (as Andrew Bradford)
Jack Platts ...
Taxi Driver
Joan Peters ...
First Woman


Autobiographical tale about Viv Nicholson who had a large Football Pools win in the early 1960s, and the ultimately destructive effect it had on her and her family.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Drama





Release Date:

15 March 1977 (UK)  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Vivian Nicholson: [voiceover] I was born in 1936 in Castleford, Yorkshire. You'll find it on the map - I'm the bugger that put it there. Where we lived, all the fellers were coal-miners. Except me dad - he was a full-time, fully-paid-up, fully-fledged bastard.
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User Reviews

A remarkable glimpse of working-class reality
11 January 2003 | by See all my reviews

It is perhaps surprising that a drama based on true facts, and which therefore can hardly be manipulated to make didactic points, should in effect prove to be so powerful, so convincing and so heart- breaking.

This story of a working-class British couple's win on the football pools, is in effect one of the most political films I have ever seen in my life, and goes to the very heart of the rotten malaise that festers within British life; the class system. Adapted from Viv Nicholson's own autobiographical account, Jack Rosenthal has fashioned a script that is almost awe inspiring in its ability to capture the nuances, petty meannesses, and grinding, soul destroying poverty that was the lot of working-class people in Britain in the 50s. The constant struggle to make a shilling do the work of a pound; the puny pleasures which were the only thing on offer; and an all powerful dominant ideology that made sure these same people were brain washed into accepting and never questioning the same phoney sham of the class structure. The alternatives were the status quo, or the authoritarian horrors of state Communism as represented by the USSR. Small wonder people settled for what they knew, and that was how the powers retained their power. I sometimes wonder if the USSR wasn't created purposely to sustain Capitalism in the West.

The late Susan Littler and John Duttine both give brilliant, first rate performances as Viv and her husband Keith, as this unexpected fortune, because they have had no training or experience in handling real money, in effect ruins their lives. Prior to the win, they are desperately poor but vibrant personalities, but, cast adrift with great wealth, they are shell-shocked and troubled, and whilst they still remain in love with each other, tragedy plays a part in their destiny as if to punish them for their `effrontery' in trying to rise above their station, and eventually Viv ends up flat broke.

It is a film that makes one seethe with anger at the perpetual social injustice there is the world over, and makes one yearn for just ONE film, one day, maybe, in which working-class people win and come out on top.

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