In the polluted and poverty-ridden Coketown, Louisa and Tom Gradgrind endure a cold and loveless childhood at the hands of their self-satisfied and unimaginative father Thomas. Starved of affection, Louisa is forced into a miserable marriage with the self-made industrialist Josiah Bounderby, thirty years her senior, whilst Tom descends into a secret life of theft. Into such squalor and misery comes Sissy Jupe, a child of the circus whose ailing father Sleary has deserted her. When she is adopted by Tom Gradgrind, the generous hearts of Sissy and her circus colleagues help combat the pervading gloom and offer the hope of redemption and eventual happiness. This full-cast BBC Radio dramatisation stars John Woodvine, Tom Baker and Anna Massey.