From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For other uses, see Spender (disambiguation).
Genre Drama
Created by Jimmy Nail
Ian La Frenais
Written by Jimmy Nail
Ian La Frenais
Kenneth Ladd
Val McLane
Directed by Mary McMurray
Roger Bamford
Starring Jimmy Nail
Theme music composer Tony McAnaney
Composer(s) Tony McAnaney
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 3 + 1 Special
No. of episodes 21
Producer(s) Martin McKeand, Paul Raphael and Peter McAleese
Editor(s) Martin Sharpe
Running time 50 mins
Production company(s) BBC Television/Big Boy Productions
Original network BBC One
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Stereo
First shown in 1991
Original release 8 January 1991 (1991-01-08) – 29 December 1993 (1993-12-29)

Spender is a BBC television drama set in Newcastle upon Tyne, created by Ian La Frenais and Jimmy Nail, who also starred. Martin McKeand produced the first two series, broadcast on BBC One in early 1991 and 1992. A third and final series was shown in early 1993, produced by Paul Raphael and Peter McAleese. A total of 20 episodes were produced, with one feature-length special, set and filmed in France.


The series focused on the life and exploits of Detective Sergeant Freddie Spender (Nail) who was often chosen to carry out more daring police cases. With his criminal sidekick Stick (Sammy Johnson), Spender was one of the more remarkable TV detectives of the 1990s. The series featured an extensive back story for the main characters with a number of episodes dealing with Spender's domestic life, his family and circumstances.

Some of the storylines were somewhat dark; one episode featured the death of Spender's wife at the hands of a ruthless gangster, another on the kidnap of one of his daughters.


Nail mentioned the idea of a cop show to writer La Frenais, with whom he'd worked on Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, in 1987. The BBC commissioned a pilot script, written by the latter, which was enthusiastically received but La Frenais was too busy to work on further episodes. A producer suggested the Nail should try writing a script, which was also positively received by the BBC. Not confident he could repeat the formula for remaining episodes in the series on his own, Nail moved to Los Angeles in 1989 to be closer to La Frenais as he worked on the material.[1]


The first series was reported to have cost the BBC £2,500,000 to produce.[2] The second and third series were produced by Initial.

The producer Paul Raphael, director of photography Ernest Day and first assistant director left during the making of the third series.[3] A press article at the time said that three members of the production team had left, citing 'creative and artistic differences'.[4] Nail was said to have been demanding as the star and Executive Producer of the show.[5]

No further series were produced after the special, despite the popularity of the show, and it being a smash hit for the BBC in terms of ratings.

In 1992 a novelisation was released written by Nail.


Ford provided a new Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth for each series, for Spender's car.[6] The first vehicle was stolen from the set, before later being found burnt out. A security guard for the car was hired during the production of the third series.[7]

Stick drove a Volkswagen Beetle. A number of Ford, Vauxhall, BMW and Range Rover cars were also featured in the series.[8]

Cast and characters[edit]

The show was Denise Welch's national television debut.[2] Mickey Hutton, who played a recurring character in the series, was formerly in a band with Nail.[9]

Character Portrayed by Role/Position Seasons
1 2 3
Freddie Spender Jimmy Nail Detective Sergeant Main
Kenneth Norman 'Stick' Oakley Sammy Johnson Criminal / Friend Main
Dan Boyd Berwick Kaler Detective Sergeant Main
Frances Spender Denise Welch Ex Wife Main
Keith Moreland Tony McAnaney Musician / Music store owner Supporting
Det. Chief Supt. Gillespie Peter Guinness Police Officer Main
Supt. Yelland Paul Greenwood Police Officer Main
Kate Spender Lynn Harrisson Daughter Supporting
Laura Spender Dawn Winlow Daughter Supporting
Eric Brendan Healy Ex-Wife's new partner Supporting

Guest stars in the series included Amanda Redman, Rodney Bewes, Frances Tomelty, Julie Peasgood, Jan Graveson, Geoffrey Hughes, Bobby Pattinson, Tom Bell and Ian McElhinney.


Series 1[edit]

The series was broadcast on Tuesday evenings in the peak 9.30pm time slot that followed the BBC's flagship Nine O'Clock News.

Episode Title Original Broadcast Date Writer Director Producer
1 Homecoming 8 January 1991 Ian La Frenais Mary McMurray Martin McKeand
2 Half a Ton of Heartaches 15 January 1991 Jimmy Nail Roger Bamford
3 Double Jeopardy 22 January 1991 Ian La Frenais Mary McMurray
4 The Candidate 29 January 1991 Jimmy Nail Richard Standeven
5 Iced 5 February 1991 Ian La Frenais Roger Bamford
6 Dance Girl Dance 12 February 1991 John Harvey Richard Standeven
7 Tough 19 February 1991 Jimmy Nail Mary McMurray
8 Well, Well, Well 26 February 1991

Series 2[edit]

Episode Title Original Broadcast Date Writer Director Producer
1 Here We Go Again 7 January 1992 Jimmy Nail Alan Grint Martin McKeand
2 Fly By Night 14 January 1992 Ian La Frenais
3 Fee 21 January 1992 Jimmy Nail Ian Knox
4 Family Business 28 January 1992 Ian La Frenais
5 The Golden Striker 4 February 1992 Kenneth Ladd Roger Bamford
6 At the End of the Day 11 February 1992 Jimmy Nail

Series 3[edit]

Episode Title Original Broadcast Date Writer Director Producer
1 The More Things Change 5 January 1993 Jimmy Nail Ian Knox Paul Raphael
2 Kid 12 January 1993 Val McLane
3 Puck 19 January 1993 Jimmy Nail Suri Krishnamma Peter McAleese, Paul Raphael
4 Bad Company 26 January 1993 Stan Hey
5 Best Friends 2 February 1993 Niall Leonard Ian Knox
6 Retreat 9 February 1993 Stan Hey

Christmas Special[edit]

Title Original Broadcast Date Writer Director Producer
The French Collection 29 December 1993 Jimmy Nail Matt Forrest Steve Lanning, Jen Samson


  1. ^ Ross, Deborah (8 January 1991). "Jimmy turns into a real big Spender". Daily Mail. 
  2. ^ a b Usher, Shaun (19 February 1991). "Nailing colours to the mast". Daily Mail. 
  3. ^ "Spender is Nailed". Daily Mail. 22 January 1993. 
  4. ^ "Spender film squad walk out on Nail". Daily Mail. 14 October 1992. 
  5. ^ Bamigboye, Baz (18 December 1992). "Why Spender is proving a bed of Nails". Daily Mail. 
  6. ^ "Stop these secret adverts on our screens". Daily Mail. 7 June 1991. 
  7. ^ "Car minder for Spender". Daily Mail. 26 November 1992. 
  8. ^ Barnard, Peter (8 January 1992). "Unlikely but likeable". The Times. 
  9. ^ Middlehurst, Lester (4 March 1995). "Mickey Hutton". Daily Mail. 

External links[edit]