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.


John Goldschmidt
1 nomination. See more awards »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Susan Littler Susan Littler ... Vivian Nicholson
John Duttine ... Keith Nicholson
Helene Palmer Helene Palmer ... Vivian's Mother (as Helen Beck)
Joe Belcher ... Vivian's Father
Stephen Bill Stephen Bill ... Matthew
Liz Smith ... Keith's Granny
Annie Hulley ... Girlfriend
Philip Joseph Philip Joseph ... Gary
John Lyons ... Public Relations Man
Jane Lowe Jane Lowe ... Public Relations Girl
Peter Mayock Peter Mayock ... First Reporter
Andy Bradford ... Second Reporter (as Andrew Bradford)
Jack Platts Jack Platts ... Taxi Driver
Fred Gaunt ... Doctor
Joan Peters 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) See more »

Filming Locations:

England, UK

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

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

Classic TV drama which stands the test of time
1 July 2003 | by bfinnSee all my reviews

I went to see this film yesterday at a small viewing in the National Film Theatre in London, and was delighted to find that Vivian Nicholson - the football pools-winning subject of the film - was seated in the row behind me with family & friends, all joking (and sometimes singing) much of the way through. Though a granny now she still seems pretty lively & feisty.

How strange it must be to watch your life represented in fictional form, particularly with the numerous ups and downs (including violent drunken father, illegitimate children, a tragic death and several failed marriages) depicted here. Presumably the film must have been pretty accurate, since much of the dialogue was apparently quoted verbatim from transcripts of Vivian's personal account.

The film played the (then daring) temporal device of alternating scenes from Vivian's harsh early life with scenes of her decline & fall following the football pools win. At the time the director feared this might confuse the viewing public, but it turned out to be clear enough.

Apart from the surprise of finding Vivian herself behind me, the most striking thing about this film was just how well scripted and acted it was, despite being made on a shoestring (with no budget even for title music) and designed for one-off TV viewing. It deservedly won a BAFTA award in 1978. Together with the other best of the Play for Today films (such as Mike Leigh's Nuts in May), these strike me as classics which stand the test of time, much as the Ealing Comedies do. A shame that they are perceived as almost forgotten one-off TV dramas of their day rather than part of the cinema canon.

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