Play for Today: Spend, Spend, Spend

Spend, Spend, Spend.  Broadcast 15 March 1977.  Directed by John Goldschmidt.  Written by Jack Rosenthal from the book by Vivian Nicholson.  Duration: 85 minutes.

Cast: Susan Littler (Viv), John Duttine (Keith), Helen Beck (Viv’s mother), Liz Smith (Keith’s gran).

When Keith and Viv Nicholson won the pools, she declared that she would take the money and ‘spend, spend, spend!’. That’s where the inspiration for this clever play from Jack Rosenthal comes from – it stars Susan Littler as Viv, John Duttine as Keith, Helen Beck as Viv’s mother, and Liz Smith as Keith’s granny.

The setting is Northern England, the characters are slightly stereotypical – Viv is flirty and flighty, Keith is quiet and withdrawn, Viv’s parents are in an abusive marriage where traditional dad takes all the family money for beer, Keith’s granny is a seething matriarch.

Winning the pools, too, is very of its time – no headline would pursue the winners of a few thousand when millions can be had in these days of lottery windfalls.

Still, the play is well-acted, by the much-missed Littler in particular, even if works now more as a historical document than a relevant slice of life.