Hard Times

Watch Hard Times

  • 1994
  • 1 Season
  • 7.5  (128)

Based on the novel by Charles Dickens, Hard Times is a British television drama series produced by BBC in 1977. The show, set in the fictional industrial town of Coketown during the 19th century, features a plot that depicts the harsh realities of the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England.

The story mainly revolves around two families, the Bounderbys and the Gradgrinds, who are at opposite ends of the social spectrum. Thomas Gradgrind (played by James Hayter) is a wealthy and influential local industrialist who believes in the principles of utilitarianism, promoting knowledge and education solely for economic progress. On the other hand, Josiah Bounderby (played by Frank Finlay) is a self-made man who rose from his humble beginnings to become one of the richest men in town through sheer determination and hard work. He constantly brags about his humble roots and how he pulled himself up from nothing, but is revealed to have lied about his background.

One of the characters at the center of the narrative is Louisa Gradgrind (played by Michele Dotrice), Thomas Gradgrind's daughter. Louisa is depicted as a cold and emotionless young woman who has been subjected to her father's utilitarian teachings from a young age. She is forced to marry Josiah Bounderby, who is twice her age and a man she has no feelings for, in order to secure her family's financial stability. This unhappy union soon unravels with the appearance of an enigmatic and mysterious man called James Harthouse (played by Timothy West) who arrives in town and takes an interest in Louisa.

Meanwhile, the lower classes of Coketown are also represented in the show by characters such as Stephen Blackpool (played by Alan Dobie), a poor worker who is laid off from his job in Bounderby's factory after refusing to join the union. He also has an unhappy marriage and struggles with alcohol addiction. Another notable character is Sissy Jupe (played by Caroline Hutchison), a young girl who is taken in by the Gradgrinds after her father abandons her. She brings a sense of warmth and humanity to the show, in contrast to the bleak and austere environment of Coketown.

The series is known for its dark and gritty portrayal of Victorian England, focusing on the harsh working conditions of the laborers and the social inequalities of the time. The sets and costumes are meticulously designed to reflect the mood and atmosphere of the period, with the industrial backdrop of Coketown looming in the background. The acting is also noted for its powerful performances, particularly by Dotrice and Finlay.

The themes of the show are universal and timeless, exploring the human experience of suffering, love, and redemption. The utilitarian philosophy that dominates the character's lives in the show is a recurring theme in Dickens' works and is used to critique the negative effects of industrialization on society. The contrast between Bounderby's supposed self-made success and the actual exploitation of workers in his factory is another notable social commentary that is made through the show.

Despite being based on a novel written in the 19th century, the show remains relevant and timeless in its themes and messages, with its portrayal of social inequality and exploitation still being pertinent in the 21st century. Overall, Hard Times is a powerful and thought-provoking drama that offers a scathing critique of the industrialized society of its era.

Hard Times is a series that is currently running and has 1 seasons (4 episodes). The series first aired on April 29, 1994.

Hard Times
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Hard Times Episode 4
4. Hard Times Episode 4
May 20, 1994
Bounderby confronts Gradgrind about his marriage. Blackpool incriminates Tom who escapes abroad but dies soon after. Bounderby also dies. Louisa is left a cold widow.
Hard Times Episode 3
3. Hard Times Episode 3
May 13, 1994
Blackpool refuses to incriminate his fellow workers and is sacked by Bounderby. The bank is robbed and Blackpool is under suspicion. Mr. Harthouse declares his love for Louisa.
Hard Times Episode 2
2. Hard Times Episode 2
May 6, 1994
Harthouse is attracted to Louisa. Unfortunately for him, she's married to Bounderby to help her brother Tom. Rachel saves Blackpool's wife. Meanwhile, Blackpool won't join the union and is outcast.
Hard Times Episode 1
1. Hard Times Episode 1
April 29, 1994
Sentiment and affection have no place in the upbringings of young Louisa and Tom, who are supervised by their father, Thomas Chadgrind.
Where to Watch Hard Times
Hard Times is available for streaming on the bbc website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Hard Times on demand at Amazon, Vudu and Apple TV.
  • Premiere Date
    April 29, 1994
  • IMDB Rating
    7.5  (128)