Last night we watched on DVD 'Hard Times', a BBC Dickens production from 1994 starring Alan Bates, Harriet Walter , Richard E. Grant & Bill Paterson.
In Hard Times, Charles Dickens gives us a close-up look into what appears to be the ivory tower of the bourgeoisie of his day, yet these middle-class characters are viewed from a singular perspective, the perspective of those at the bottom of the social and economic system. Though Dickens' characters tend to be well developed and presented with a thoroughly human quality, the stereotypical figure of arrogant and demanding Bounderby fails to accurately capture the motivations and attitudes of the typical successful businessman of the day and is an indication of the author's political motives. Hard Times, rather than presenting a historically accurate picture of the extraordinary changes brought about by the industrial revolution, is a one-sided attack on the utilitarian value system of the middle 19th century based upon emotional blue-collar appeals for labor sympathy that are not uncommon in today's corporate environment.
Hard Times also features in a small role as Mrs Bounderby, Patsy Byrne, who most will remember as Queenie from Blackadder. According to her Wikipedia entry Patsy is famous for playing round, jolly, often slightly insane old women. In Hard Times she plays a round, jolly, often slightly insane old woman.