Played by: Martin Hancock
Appeared: 15 December 1997 - 28 July 2000; 11 - 18 November 2001 Credited as Geoffrey Nugent until 22 December 1997
The Street's first "eco-warrior", vegan and didgeridoo owner. He prefers to be called "Spider".
Spider Nugent turned up on his Aunty Em's doorstep in December 1997. The scruffy, ragged-trousered, Big-Issue reading, Holsten-Pils drinking, vegetarian, eco-warrier brought a wry smile to Emily Bishop's face when she asked him why he'd turned up out of the blue. "My dad said you were a bit of a go-er so I thought you'd be cool with it. I won't sponge off you for long", he said, "I've got the world to save and all that". Her nephew dropped out of his second year in Politics at University and went to Australia. He lived in a community in Queensland where he protested against zinc mining and rainforest depletion until he was deported around June 1996.
Aunty Em was always tolerant of Spider's "herbal cigarettes" being smoked in her home. She knew what Spider was doing but preferred him to smoke in the house rather than elsewhere as he had history with the police and she didn't want him in any more trouble.
Toyah Battersby immediately developed a crush on Spider, and the pair of them were instrumental in saving Theresa the turkey from being dish of the day at the Battersby Christmas dinner. They liberated Theresa and took her to a children's farm, from where she promptly escaped. The turkey made her way back to the Street, only to meet her untimely death under the wheels of Les' car, a flurry of feathers coming to rest on the car bonnet.
Spider and Toyah made a good team and joined forces against the council's plan to build a concert bowl on the red rec, along with some of the others in the Street. They lamented the destruction of the hoary ground wort on the red rec, and Toyah painted a sign that read "Save whorey". Spider laughed at her spelling error and she got a little upset about it: "It's not my fault I'm thick, it's the government's!". They both decide they would handcuff themselves to the trees in the red rec when the revolution comes, and had a rehearsal in Aunty Em's house, handcuffing each other to the stair banisters. When Spider asked Toyah for the key so he can unlock the cuffs, she admitted she'd left it on the sideboard so they both missed out on the protest meeting at the council and had to stay locked together until Aunty Em arrived home, hours later.
The campaign to save the red rec moved to Councillor Robert's own back garden when Spider and Roy Cropper set up camp in Audrey Roberts' flower beds. "I just don't know what they're getting up to out there Alfie, I'll never sit in that end of the garden again" she moaned. During the Red Rec campaign, a friend of Spider's sent him a didgeridoo through the post (or as Audrey referred to it, a didgeridoo-dah) and another of Spider's friends, Mole turned up to join in the campaign, digging tunnels on the site. The campaign ended after Spider hit what he thought was concrete while digging his tunnel. On further inspection and with the help of Roy's encyclopaedic knowledge, it turned out to be remains of a Roman settlement. The bulldozers had to move out now the Red Rec was deemed a site of historical significance and Spider, Toyah, Roy and Aunty Em celebrated with a drink in the Rovers.
In February 1998, Spider saddened Aunty Em and Toyah by announcing that he was leaving Weatherfield when his mate, Hawkeye rang him from another eco-site and said he needed help there. However, he was persuaded to stay after being offered a job at the Red Rec from Professor Barker, an archaeology professor.
Spider and Toyah then started the PLO (Prawn Liberation Organisation) to save the Norwegian prawn. The pair of them, with Aunty Em joining in, played whale music in Firmans and strutted around with placards. Spider was chuffed with Toyah's involvement when she poured anti-freeze over the prawns in Firman's freezers, little realising the seriousness of their actions.
When Toyah decided to take her relationship with Spider up a notch and become romantically involved, an old girlfriend of Spider's, Log, turned up. Log had just returned from her travels in South America and it was obvious Spider still had feelings for Log and that all that he and Toyah would ever be were "comrades in arms", just friends.
In March 1998, Spider once again upset Aunty Em and Toyah when he decided to leave Weatherfield, this time with Log. However, Spider found out Log's true colours after a bacon sandwich went astray in the cafe and the only likely suspect was Log. (Surely not ethical, vegan Log?). Aunty Em set a trap for Log by laying out bacon and sausages for her Sunday lunch and when Spider returned to the house to find Log tucking into a full English breakfast, he told her he couldn't leave with someone as unprincipled as she. Before leaving, Log turned to Spider to tell him they no longer had anything in common anyway because he'd "gone all cuddly". (And that's just how we liked him, dear.)
In June '98, Spider stood for council on environmental issues, hoping to win Weatherfield's 'green vote', threatening butcher Fred Elliott that the campaign would make Weatherfield a meat-free zone. Audrey , appalled that "Stig of the dump" (her words, not mine) was going to stand for council was enraged enough to announce that she too would stand for council, and give the "scruffy beggar a run for his money". When Spider asked Audrey what her policy would be, for instance, on air quality, she replied: "Well, you see, that's something I know a bit about, 'cos I'm a fully qualified 'airdresser." The tension mounted as both Spider and Audrey fought to gain control of Weatherfield Council. Both of them needed 10 people to sign in support of their stand for council, and while Spider had no problem getting his 10 good men (and women) true, Audrey was less popular, it seemed. Mind you, Gail signed for Spider but only after Toyah told her she needed her signature for a sponsored walk. Audrey reckoned Spider wouldn't be able to stand for council as he wouldn't be on the electoral register, but good old Aunty Em surprised everyone by saying that she registered Spider when he first moved in with her. Spider told Aunty Em that even if he was elected, he wouldn't actually take the position because it was against his anarchist principles. However, he scrubbed up ultra-clean in a white suit and sensible hair cut but realised he was making himself out to be something he wasn't - all for the sake of politics. When election day dawned in Weatherfield, Fred was worried that Spider might steal Audrey's seat. He received confirmation from a little man at the council who knew about such things that anyone having spent time in prison wasn't eligible to take up office. That would have ruled out Spider as he had spent time in prison in the past, or so Fred thought - but he wasn't quite correct. As Spider had only spent 14 days in prison (for sticking to his principles and refusing to pay a fine) he could still hold office if he won the election. Sadly though, while Spider got a whopping 842 votes (837 of which came from me Toyah and Aunty Em, Audrey won the election with 849 votes, beating Spider by a mere 7 votes.
Over at the Rovers, blonde barmaid Lorraine Brownlow started making eyes at Spider, much to Toyah's annoyance, who blamed it on the fact that men, all men, have a "Barbie doll mentality", even Spider, it seemed. Poor Toyah. She suffered while watching Spider make a fool of himself with Lorraine, and bought a teen magazine "Only 16" from the Kabin, to read the article "Top 10 tips on how to nail your man." She followed Spider and Lorraine to a night-club and bumped into them both in the supermarket, but apart from making Lorraine a bit bad tempered, it didn't really change anything. Spider still just thought of her as a mate.
In March 1999, Spider helped his mate Curly Watts get his house back from the clutches of Jackie Dobbs. Curly took legal advice to evict his squatter, to no avail, so he and Spider ended up creeping into the house to steal the TV while Tyrone was sleeping on the sofa.
In April 1999, Spider developed a crush on Nita Desai when she invited him to her flat above the corner shop for dinner, but she was only interested in his friendship. He didn't realise this though, and started getting all misty-eyed about meeting the right girl to settle down with and have children.
During August 1999, Spider and Toyah spent a night under canvas on the Red Rec, hoping to catch a glimpse of the eclipse. Instead, something much more earthly happened. Back at Aunty Em's, she asked them both how the evening had gone. "Er.. cosmic", said Toyah . But Spider wasn't so sure and spent most of the week afterwards trying to avoid her. Leanne told Spider if he didn't do the decent thing with Toyah she would threaten him with Les Battersby but Spider really did seem confused, poor soul. Finally though, Toyah got her man after she stormed round to see him at Aunty Em's and demanded to know what was going on. After a couple of snogs the pair of them seemed a lot happier, so there you go. True love or what? Spider had a way with words when wooing Toyah in the café: "You have a beautiful body but your mind is equally as wonderful". We women like that sort of stuff, believe me. When Les found out who Toyah's new boyfriend was, he was less than pleased: "You mean that dozy crusty's sleeping wi' our Toyah?" he yelled before storming round to the café, intending to pull the legs off Spider before flushing him down the toilet, no doubt. Fortunately for Spider, all the shouting in the café brought Hayley downstairs and she sorted out the lot of them. Spider managed to sweet talk Aunty Em into letting Toyah stay there for a while after the fall-out with Les Aunty Em agreed, on the understanding that no hanky panky went on under her roof. They both agreed, well, at least they tried to, but hormones being hormones and all, well Aunty Em was not best pleased when she found out what was going on and threw Toyah out. Curly let the young lovers use his spare room, while worried about incurring the wrath of Les next door.
In October 1999, Spider and Toyah set up home in a tent on the Red Rec but the sanitary arrangements left a lot to be desired, with no toilet or fresh water. After eating yams one more time, Toyah wasn't happy, especially when Spider's mate, a tramp called Tufty, turned up on the door step, or rather, at the tent-flap, begging for food. When Audrey found out that "Mr Hippy, the armchair anarchist" had set up home in one of the parks she had control over in her role of councillor, she wasn't best pleased. Aunty Em went off on holiday with Maud Grimes and while she was away, Spider and Toyah moved in to her house. While the two of them were upstairs playing battleships in the bath tub, a candle set fire to Aunty Em's curtains and the living room ended up with serious smoke damage. Spider enlisted Hayley to help out redecorating Aunty Em's front room after the fire, and while she got cracking making new curtains, Spider and Toyah did the wall-papering and the place looked ok again.
Hayley happened to mention that her old bedsit was free - at last, Spider and Toyah could have a home to call their own. Only one slight problem, they couldn't afford it, so Spider decided it was time he got himself a job (about bloody time, too!). Off he went to the jobcentre and tried to get a job as park keeper but the job had already gone. However, Earnest in the jobcentre tried to find something suitable for him. He offered slaughterhouse work (no - he's vegetarian), pest control (no - he couldn't kill creepy crawlies), car park attendant (no - we all know the damage they do to the environment), baker (no - too many animal fats and GM foods) and canal dredger (no - he couldn't work with Toyah's dad). "Principles don't put bread on the table", Gail told him, so there was only one thing for it - he went for an interview with the establishment - the Benefits Agency itself. A bit nervous before the interview, he started talking to a guy who worked there, only to find it was fellow crusty, Ganga Tim. "There's something I should tell yer" said Spider, "I'm an anarchist". "So am I" replied Ganga Tim. It was a done deal, he got the job and planned to make the system work to help claimants with their benefits rather than becoming one of the establishment himself.
When Aunty Em returned from her travels she realised straight away what had been going on in her living room. She did a great impression of Lady Bracknell: "A FIRE?" when Spider and Toyah eventually come clean about why they had to redecorate. Aunty Em wasn't best pleased though and threw them out after taking Spider's key from him. However, Maud made Aunty Em see reason and warned her about turning people away. So, Aunty Em popped into the jobcentre to see Spider and invited him and Toyah round that evening . She gave them a cheque for £100 to cover expenses involved in redecorating but Spider tore the cheque up, he couldn't accept it, although Toyah would have snatched it from Aunty Em's hand, given half a chance.
In November 1999 while working at the Benefits Agency, Spider uncovered evidence that showed Les Battersby working while claiming benefits. He and Toyah decided to get rid of the incriminating evidence but he was caught by his boss, Miss Finch and had some explaining to do.
Spider settled into a more responsible lifestyle, wearing a suit and tie for
work each day, looked after Toyah and the pair of them entertained friends with
vegetarian dinner parties in their bedsit. However, working at the Benefit
Agency became too much for Spider when he had to refuse a single mother her
benefits - and he walked out.
Now, this could have been a good scene. Nay, it could have been a great scene. The potential was there - he could have railed against Daily Mail readers, he could have stood on his desk and lectured his civil service colleagues about ethics and morals and I suppose he did, a bit, but only in the most wimpy kind of way.
If ever we were in any doubt that Spider had changed, dumbed down, from the free thinking, free-range eating, free-loving hippy we'd come to know and love, this was proof beyond a doubt that he was now part of the establishment, with the only thing he was ever likely to revolutionise being the staff rota. He couldn't even rebel properly. But he did, in his own way, sort of.
He headed home to sit around a candle and went 'um' in an unconvincing Buddhist way and tells Toyah he's booked them both on a spiritual journey. "Were not going to the Millennium Dome, are we?" she asked. No, Toyah, you're going to India. Well, Spider would have liked you to have gone to India with him, he'd bought two tickets after all, but it's too much for Toyah to take in, too sudden. She can't just up and leave, can she? In the end, finally, and tearfully she decided her own destiny, remaining in Weatherfield without him. And so he went, just like that. He said goodbye to Aunty Em (more tears), paid a month's rent in advance and left £100 in the bank for Toyah.
And then he went.
And then I cried.
Written by Glenda Young