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Program Title
Hard Times

Based On
The novel by Charles Dickens

Adapted By
Peter Barnes

Number of Episodes:

Coketown is a place of dark factory walls and dirty streets where the sun is blotted out by soot and smoke. It is a loveless world where the philosophy of the market dominates over human sensitivity and true passions are repressed. Banker Joseph Bounderby is the epitome of this world: a self-made, self-important industrialist who is propped up by the well-born, but equally well-widowed, Mrs. Sparsit who knows where her fortunes lie. Local MP and schoolmaster Thomas Gradgrind has raised his children Louisa and Tom, according to an educational system that supports this economic regime, one of "fact, not fancy." Even a visit to a local circus is frowned upon, and when Gradgrind adopts an orphan circus girl, Sissy Jupe, she too has to conform to the system. As a result, Louisa has grown cold and distant while Tom, forced to work for Bounderby, adopts a secret life of drink and gambling. In order to be nearer to Tom, Louisa accepts an offer of marriage from Bounderby, a man for whom she feels neither love nor respect. Subsequently, Mrs. Sparsit is enraged at her relegation in the Bounderby household and longs for Louisa's downfall. She does not wait long. Fate arrives in the guise of full-time Lothario, and some-time politician, Harthouse. Slowly, Louisa gradually succumbs to Harthouse's attentions - and all the while Mrs. Sparsit watches and waits. As the drama unfolds, the thin veneer of aloof respectability is stripped away revealing the hypocrisy of a society in which everything is valued by price.

Original broadcast date

Cast Characters
Alan Bates Bounderby
Bob Peck Gradgrind
Bill Paterson Blackpool
Harriet Walter Rachel
Beatie Edney Louisa
Richard E Grant Harthouse
Alex Jennings Bitzer
Emma Lewis Sissy
Christien Anholt Tom
Dilys Laye Mrs. Sparsit
Diana Fairfax Mrs. Gradgrind
Patsy Byrne Old Woman
Tina Marian
Timothy Bateson Childers
Peter Bayliss Sleary
Jonathan Butterell Kidderminster
Christopher Benjamin Slackbridge
Christopher E Ettridge
Jason Webb Porter
Rupert Mason Clerk

Executive Producer: Richard Langridge, Rebecca Eaton
Producer: Richard Langridge
Director: Peter Barnes

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