Spender, 1991

Jimmy Nail will perhaps be best remembered as Oz from hit TV series Auf Wiedershen Pet.  However in 1991 he took on a quite different role as Detective Sergeant Freddie Spender.

Like Auf Wiedershen Pet the series proved to be a smash hit and ran for twenty one episodes over three series.

In 1987, whilst still working on Auf Wiedershen Pet, Jimmy Nail mentioned to one of the show’s writers Ian La Frenais an idea of a cop show.  La Frenais wrote a draft pilot script for the BBC who loved the idea.  However Ian La Frenais was too busy to write any further episodes.  It was a producer who suggested to Jimmy Nail that he try and write a script.  Nail submitted his script which also got a warm reception from the BBC.  So much so they commissioned a series of eight episodes.  It was 1989 and Nail felt uneasy about repeating the formula that had been so well received by the BBC. Consequently he moved to Los Angeles to be closer to La Frenais for help as he worked on material for the series.

The first series was produced by the BBC at a reported cost of £2.5 million.  The remaining two series were produced by Initial an independent production company.

One of the cast Sammy Johnson was a friend of Jimmy Nail and is the ‘Sammy’ in” Sunday For Sammy”, a bi-annual concert  hosted by Tim Healy and (until 2008) Jimmy Nail, featuring sketches with North East personalities.


Maverick cop D.S. Spender is an ex North East cop now working in London.

After an undercover operation goes wrong in London, Spender’s partner is injured. Consequently it is felt that Spender should lie low for a while.

Reluctantly he finds himself sent back to his native Newcastle for what he thinks is a one-off assignment to try and get evidence against a local businessman.  Whilst there Spender also catches up with his ex wife and kids and also his old mate an ex building society robber ‘Stick’ who will become his side-kick to help him in his investigations into the murky criminal world.

The one off assignment turns into a little more as Spender finds himself working from Newcastle for a little longer than he though, investigating some of the more challenging and dangerous police cases.







DS Freddie Spender – Jimmy Nail
Kenneth Norman ‘Stick’ Oakley – Sammy Johnson
DS Dan Boyd – Berwick Kaler
Frances Spender – Denise Welch
Keith Moreland – Tony McAnaney
Kate Spender – Lynn Harrisson
Laura Spender – Dawn Winlow
Supt. Yelland- Paul Greenwood (Series 1)
DCS Gillespie – Peter Guiness (Series 2—3)
Eric – Brendan Healy (Series 2—3)
‘Spud’ Tate – Mickey Hutton (Series 2—3)


Channel: BBC1
Created By: Jimmy Nail and Ian La Frenais
Written By:
Ian La Frenais
Jimmy Nail
Kenneth Ladd
Val McLane
Original Transmission Dates: 8th January 1991 – 29th December 1993



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