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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
Original language(s) English
No. of series 3
No. of episodes 20
Producer(s) Martin McKeand
Running time 50 mins
Production company(s) BBC Television/Big Boy Productions
Original network BBC One
Picture format 16:9
First shown in 1991
Original release 1991 – 1993

Spender is a BBC television drama set in Newcastle upon Tyne, written by Ian La Frenais and Jimmy Nail, who also starred. The series was produced by Martin McKeand (1-14) and broadcast on BBC One between 1991 and 1993. A total of 20 episodes were produced across three series, 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 a large amount of back story for the main characters with many episodes dealing with Spender's domestic life, his family and circumstances.

Some of the storylines were surprisingly 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.


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.

Ford provided a Ford Sierra Sapphire RS Cosworth for each series.

Cast and characters[edit]

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


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
3 Fee 21 January 1992 Jimmy Nail Ian Knox
4 Family Business 28 January 1992
5 The Golden Striker 4 February 1992 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 Matt Forrest Steve Lanning, Jen Samson

External links[edit]