Viv Nicholson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Viv Nicholson
Born 3 April 1936 (1936-04-03)
Castleford, Yorkshire, England, UK
Died 11 April 2015(2015-04-11) (aged 79)
Wakefield, Yorkshire, England, UK

Vivian Nicholson (3 April 1936 – 11 April 2015) became publicly known overnight in the United Kingdom when she told the media she would "spend, spend, spend" after her husband Keith won £152,319 (equivalent to £2.96 million in 2015, adjusted for inflation) on the football pools in 1961.[1][2] Nicholson became the subject of tabloid news stories for many years.

By her own admission, she found it hard to cope with the psychological effects of the money Keith had won. She came to feel distanced from the people she had lived among, who in turn could no longer relate to her, and developed an ever greater longing for a much more affluent area.

After her husband Keith died in a car crash on 30 October 1965,[3] Nicholson's fortune rapidly dwindled to nothing: banks and tax creditors deemed her bankrupt and declared that all the money, and everything she had acquired with it, belonged not to her but to Keith's estate.

Nicholson won a three-year legal battle to gain £34,000 from her husband's estate,[4] but rapidly lost it all through bad investments. She relocated to Malta, but, after she assaulted a policeman, the Maltese authorities deported her back to Britain amid a storm of tabloid publicity.[3] She entered a mental home to escape from her third husband, who abused her during the four days they lived together; the marriage lasted only thirteen weeks.[citation needed].

She made many attempts to regain both her public profile and her lost wealth, such as recording a single (entitled "Spend Spend Spend", written by her brother) and appearing in a strip club singing "Big Spender". None of these efforts proved successful. After opening a short-lived boutique, she ended up penniless and, by 1976, claimed that she could not even afford to bury her fourth husband (with whom she had broken up three years earlier)[citation needed] when he died.

In 1976, after joining the Jehovah's Witnesses,[5] Nicholson co-wrote an autobiography with Stephen Smith, entitled Spend, Spend, Spend which was dramatised for the BBC's Play for Today series by Jack Rosenthal. Spend, Spend, Spend (1977) was directed by John Goldschmidt (who won a BAFTA award for the filmed play) and stars Susan Littler and John Duttine.[6]

A photograph of Nicholson was used on the sleeve of The Smiths' single "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now". Previously Morrissey had borrowed a line from Nicholson's autobiography for the song "Still Ill" ("Under the iron bridge we kissed, and although I ended up with sore lips..."). Another picture of Nicholson taken at Castleford pit was used on the German release of "Barbarism Begins At Home" and on the programme for the Meat Is Murder tour. A photo of Nicholson painting at an easel was used for the cover of a 1987 re-release of "The Headmaster Ritual", however, having become a Jehovah's Witness in 1979,[7] she objected to her image being used for the single's cover due to the use of an expletive in the song's lyrics ("Spineless bastards all...").[8]

A successful musical based on Nicholson's life – Spend Spend Spend – debuted in 1998 and subsequently ran on the West End.[9]

Nicholson died at Pinderfields hospital, Wakefield, aged 79, on 11 April 2015, after having had a stroke and dementia.[10]

In January 2015, Viv Nicholson's official site announced the forthcoming publication of a second book - a new biography that covers the time period from 1961-2015.[11]


  1. ^ Pendlebury, Richard (22 April 2007). "Spent, spent, spent - pools winner now living on £87 a week". Mail Online. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Bulent Yusuf "What Happened Next?" The Observer, 6 July 2003
  3. ^ a b Richard Pendlebury "Spent, spent, spent - pools winner now living on £87 a week", Daily Mail, 22 April 2007
  4. ^ Sheena Hastings "Spend spend spend Viv Nicholson: Older and wiser now", Yorkshire Post, 22 August 2008.
  5. ^ [ Viv Nicholson obituary, The Guardian, 14 April 2015
  6. ^ "Spend Spend Spend (15 Mar. 1977)",; accessed 12 April 2015.
  7. ^ Yusuf, Bulent (6 July 2003). "What happened next?". Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  8. ^ Barton, Laura (13 April 2015). "This charming woman: why Morrissey and the Smiths loved Viv Nicholson". Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  9. ^ Jonathon Green "She had it all - and spent it", The Guardian, 9 October 1999.
  10. ^ "'Spend, spend, spend' Pools winner Viv Nicholson dies". BBC News (BBC). 12 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  11. ^ "'Viv Nicholson - 50 Years On".