Strange as it seems, the 1977 adaptation of Charles Dickens' novel Hard Times was the first full-scale adaptation of this work ever seen on British television. Set (of course!) during the Industrial Revolution, the multiplotted story line was held together by the travails of Louisa Gradgrind (Jacqueline Tong), a former circus employee who was adopted by a stern businessman and whisked off to a bleak industrial village called Coketown. With four-hour-long episodes at its disposal, this TV version managed to retain most of the characters and incidents of the Dickens original, and also kept sight of the author's indictment of the iniquitous social conditions which determined the behavior and the destinies of the main figures. Produced by Granada Television, Hard Times later aired in America via PBS. The 1994 BBC TV version, sometimes also referred to as a "miniseries," was actually intended to be seen in a single showing.
by Hal Erickson synopsis