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7.7| NA| en| More Info
Released: 08 January 1991 Ended
Producted By:
Country: United Kingdom
Budget: 0
Revenue: 0
Official Website:

Jimmy Nail plays tough cop Spender, forced to return to his native Newcastle after a failed undercover operation in London. He uses tough and unconventional methods to tackle the criminal underworld, but he must also deal with the friends, enemies and family he left behind, and never expected to return to. Sammy Johnson played Spender's sidekick Stick, while Denise Welch played Spender's wife.



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Spender Audience Reviews

WasAnnon Slow pace in the most part of the movie.
Glimmerubro It is not deep, but it is fun to watch. It does have a bit more of an edge to it than other similar films.
KnotStronger This is a must-see and one of the best documentaries - and films - of this year.
Fleur Actress is magnificent and exudes a hypnotic screen presence in this affecting drama.
Ibrahim Khider I am a Canadian who caught the Spender series on Showcase TV during the early 90's, while I attended University. At the time I considered Spender a quirky but fun, slick cop drama set in the UK. Now, older, I have a deeper appreciation and love of the show. I really enjoy the comedic interplay between the lead, Detective Sargeant Freddie Spender (played by Jimmy Nail) and his small-time, n'er-do-well, grifter sidekick, "Stick" portrayed by the late Sammy Johnson (RIP). An unlikely friendship between a career criminal and a stoic law enforcement agent is part of the show's fun dynamics. The show intro graphics caught my eye and the soundtrack caught my ears and was soon won over by the stories, characters and location. Overall a well-put-together show that chronicles the life of Detective Spender, an undercover police agent who was raised in New Castle Upon Tyne, then operated in London for several years and now (to his chagrin) returns to Newcastle to resume police work. Spender reconnects with his friends and sidekick, but also his estranged wife and daughters who lost relations with their husband/father due to his work and location. The artistic filming style captures Newcastle (where the show is set) in a slick and edgy way, lots of creative shots of the local architecture and industrial settings and is gorgeously filmed. The weakest part of the show are the criminals/villains, whom I wish were more nuanced rather than just boiler-plate baddies. Same goes for the fellow law enforcement who tend to be the 'goodies' when we know this is not always the case. Spenders' superior in Season one was a bit wooden, but by Season two, a more interesting boss surfaces. But the ongoing dynamics between Spender and Stick (more than) make up for any shortcomings. And now to the strengths, and that is the show depicts the locality of Newcastle in an immersive way; the local color, the nightlife, and social circles and the ailing economy (transitioning from industrial to "service based"). There are some complaints about the accents, it does take some getting used to but I love it and makes me feel more immersed in the location. As mentioned, Spender's stoic personality contrasts, in a fun way, that of the carefree, free-wheeling 'Stick'. Then there is Spender's circle of fellow officer DS Dan Boyd, a bit of goofy and loveable but clueless officer (played by Berwick Kaler). Further, is Spender's musician friend, the cerebral-palsy afflicted Keith Moreland (played by Tony McAnaney--who also helps soundtrack the show) and reflects the lead's side hobby of playing harmonica alongside his blues band. I recently watched 'Auf Wiedersehen, Pet' and was impressed with the contrasted performances by Jimmy Nail: from the slightly pudgy slovenly, wisecracking carefree bricklayer, Oz, to the lean, wiry, trim and stoic detective. (Cameo appearances from Auf Wiedersehen, Pet people too!) Some describe Nail's performance of Spender as 'wooden', but I feel he does an excellent job of depicting the sullen and conflicted (from also being independent minded) cop who adheres to 'the spirit of the law' and has a decent supply of wisecracks in him. Spender has a lot to worry about; from his family, to his job jailing 'baddies', to ailing Newcastle to pulling Stick's arse out of one sling after another. It is a wonder he wisecrack's at all! Spender never made it to DVD, a shame. But I did find some episodes on Youtube and other *Cough Cough* places (ie VHS dubs), though not at the quality where I can truly appreciate the show. Seek the series out where you can. I would love to see a reboot of the series, but with Sammy's passing, it may be too difficult.
Chris Sullivan This is just a response to the last review that I can see 'Jimmy Nail's accent' - unbelievable!!! The accent has to travel - if his accent hadn't have been gentrified nobody outside of Geordieland would be able to understand it - is that what you want?There are many American movies and series which do not take the rest of the world into consideration and shows like Eastenders in Britain are totally incomprehensible to the American ear.As it is the Geordie accent isn't understandable around Britain.I remember this series as being hard hitting and well acted with a bad performance by Spender's nemesis the other cop - didn't seem to ring true I remember.
screenman It seems incredible that the only other contributor to this site (at the time of writing) is from Canada.This was a blindingly good series that had a comparatively brief run in the early 1990's.Jimmy Nail - regular from the earlier and perhaps more popular 'Auf Weidersien, Pet' - played the starring role as 'Spender', the detective grudgingly rediscovering his roots. Nail also made substantial contributions to its script and production. I gather it was he who was also largely instrumental in bringing its life to a somewhat premature close. The program was extremely well rounded, with non of the needlessly graphic gloss of shoot 'em ups and pyrotechnics, yet still retaining a very earthy and believable grit. It also came with a simple but haunting little theme tune that suited the character and his circumstances to perfection, and seemed to act as a frame for each episode.I personally like the concept of short runs like this. The ideas and characters never outstay their welcome or become stale. Much better, I think, to leave you wanting more, rather than saying 'Oh, is that still on?' Some of the most iconic British TV programs have been also the briefest: 'The Prisoner', 'Fawlty Towers', 'Blackadder Goes Forth'. And to these I would certainly add the crime drama 'Spender'.It was also a refreshing change to have a star who wasn't what one might call good-looking in that typically simpering boy-band fashion. Actually, Jimmy Nail was voted ugliest man on television in some sort of European poll. But that hardly excuses the lack of interest and support from the home front. You Anglo-telly-philes ought to be ashamed of yourselves. If ever a series deserves pages of praise this one surely does. I never missed an episode.Highly recommended - on both sides of the Altantic.
halo80 SPENDER is the kind of gritty, intelligent cop drama that's been missing from North American television screen. The BBC produced series is a positive gem, having run for 3 consecutive seasons, and spawned one film entitled "The French Collection". Starring the excellent and multi-talented Jimmy Nail ("Still Crazy", "Evita"), it has garnered a following in Canada through re-runs on Showcase Television.The character of Spender is a tough and able cop cleaning up the streets of London with his somewhat unorthodox methods. Following a tragic incident, he's sent home, back to the North-East to his home-town of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, which had taken him 20-odd years to get out of. Now re-united with old friends and haunting ghosts from his untamed past, the loathing he feels for the city and his new assignment drives his character to push the limits, and test the powers that be that govern his jurisdiction. But once we meet Spender's family - divorced wife Frances and his two young daughters - we witness an unexpected dimension to the character: that of a father and protector of his children, who finds it awkward to work his way back into their lives.Excellent scripts, hard-hitting drama and action accompany a wealth of talent involved in the making of this quality program. Jimmy Nail not only stars, but pens a few of those scripts. Together with his friend Tony McAnaney (who also co-stars as Keith and writes the music for the series) they combine to produce a unique and often haunting musical score which creates just the right kind of atmosphere for the program. And of course, there's the thick and sexy accents which can only come from the North-East.Spender is definitely worth a try. If the catchy theme doesn't get to you, the high-drama will!