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Spikings was born in Boston, Lincolnshire. After leaving Boston Grammar School he joined the local newspaper, the Lincolnshire Standard, as a trainee reporter. Later he joined the Farmers' Weekly, where he won a Golden Ear award for a fifteen-minute film that he produced and directed himself.
Spikings then moved to the entertainment world. Initially, he promoted pop music festivals and later films.
In 1972, he became the co-owner of British Lion Films; Spikings later joined EMI when it took over British Lion. For the 1978 film, The Deer Hunter, Spikings won an Academy Award for Best Picture. The film also garnered awards for several of its actors.
In 1985, Spikings formed a Canadian company, Nelson Holdings International, with British financier Richard Northcott, to purchase entertainment firms. Nelson later acquired the home video assets of Embassy Pictures from Coca-Cola and film production companies Galactic Films and the Spikings Corporation, and formed Nelson Entertainment. Nelson had the North American home video rights and all international rights to the output from the newly-formed Castle Rock Entertainment. 
Spikings served as president of Nelson Entertainment through the early 1990s.