Sunday, 12 April 2015

RIP Viv Nicholson

Viv Nicholson, the former liquorice factory worker who at 25 became a household name overnight for winning £152,000 on the pools in 1961, has died aged 79.

Announcing she would 'Spend! Spend! Spend!' the winnings - £3.5m in today's money - rocketed Nicholson to notoriety and her life formed the basis of the classic Play For Today penned by Jack Rosenthal entitled Spend Spend Spend and a West End musical in 1999. She also became the face of The Smiths song Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now when the above photograph was used as the single's cover art.

Unfortunately, money didn't make Viv happy and her life was beset by tragedy; her husband Keith, the miner whose numbers came up for the legendary win, died in a car crash in 1965, leaving Viv with a huge tax bill that left her bankrupt. Struggling with alcoholism and the psychological effects that came from the pools win, Viv moved to Malta but was later deported following a fight with a policeman. On her return to England she eked out a living singing Big Spender in a Manchester strip club. She married a further three times, but lost her second husband to another car crash and her third to a drug overdose. In 2009 she developed dementia and lost her battle with the condition yesterday, April 11th. 



  1. That's sad to hear Mark. I remember her winning that money, a great amount in those days. R.I.P Viv

  2. What a hugely tragic life, 'highlighted' by what would appear to be her only turn of good luck.

    No lessons to be learnt, only a reminder of fate's cruelty.

  3. You beat me to it! Viv was certainly a real life Elsie Tanner .... I loved that BBC play in 1977, what a shame too that Susan Littler - the play's Viv - died young at 34.