The Hard Years
Hard years


Historical drama

Created by

Jean-Paul Barre


May Benley, Michael Brody, Alexander Neyt, Cecille Henneman, Sara Benns Stanley





English and Dutch

Seasons, episodes


Running time

50 minutes

Production company(s)

Studio 5, Squall Line Productions

Original channel, run

BBN logo black,
September 27, 2011 - present

May Benley in the Hard Years

May Benley as Lisa

The Hard Years is an award-winning TV series set in the fictional town of Milerose Beach, Carrington Parish during the late 1930s and 1940s. It follows the wealthy English-speaking Stanhope family and the poor Dutch-speaking Kappel family, and their intertwined lives.

The series has been especially commended for using both Dutch and English- The Kappels speak in Dutch and the Stanhopes speak English [1]. This is the first fully bilingual television series in Brunant.


The Hard Years follows two families of different socio-economic background, the Kappels and the Stanhopes, who live in Milerose Beach. Season one began in 1938, with the depression still being felt in Brunant.

Season oneEdit

The Stanhopes are a typical upper-class family. They live in a large manor, have servants and are unawares of what is going on around them. The Kappel's are a poor family with a proud father and who just make it by minimally. One day, while going out into town, Mr. Kappel and Mrs. Stanhope have a chance meeting (a chance encounter). With war clouds looming over in Germany, the local fear they will go from one crisis (the depression) to another. During an earthquake in Milerose Beach, Mr. Kappel rescues Lisa Stanhope and tends for her. Young Louis quickly falls in love with her though Lisa does not see that at first. By the next episode the two are dating and the families have grown closer. The Stanhopes, in gratitude, give the family bread and fruit and invite them to a Christmas dinner at their home. At dinner, Louis and Lisa announce that they will be engaged.

The season takes place in 1938.

Season twoEdit

July 1939: Hitler's warmongering have caused difficulties in Europe and at home the two families are facing crises. The Stanhopes are in financial difficulties due to the depression and their son James, who is studying in Scotland is set up with a wealthy American girl from Boston. James is more interested in a local girl who he regularly sees (Henneman) but his parents forbid it, as he is the heir to the estate. James is sent on the SS Athenia but the ship is torpedoed by a U-boat and he dies at sea. With their heir dead, the Stanhopes risk losing everything to Henry's cousin and her husband, the bitter Napiers. In order to prevent that, they need to ensure Louis and Lisa marry and produce an heir. But, Mr. Stanhope falls ill and he then rejoins the Realmarine in order to prevent his cousin from preparing for his death.

Meanwhile the Kappels have lost everything when Johannes was swindled in a scam. He turns to drinking and gambling and when he is arrested for stealing, his wife Rosa leaves him. Louis is then left to produce for his family and seeing his parents unhappy eventually gets them back together.

Season threeEdit

Season three of The hard Years debuted in October 2013.

The castEdit

Role Image Actor Character description
Johannes Kappel Alexander Neyt Alexander Neyt Johannes is a hardworking shoemaker that barely makes ends meet. He is often critical of the rich but over time he makes a lasting friendship with the Stanhopes and ends up appreciating their generosity.
Mrs. Rosa Kappel Cecille Henneman Cecille Henneman The wife of Johannes and mother to Louis. She is a kind mother and loving wife, but is constantly unhappy about her family's financial situation.
Louis Kappel Johan de Bruijn Johan de Bruijn The young son of Rosa and Johannes Kappel. He falls in love with Lisa Stanhope and ends up proposing to her.
Lisa Stanhope May Benley May Benley Lisa is a young lady and the daughter of Agatha Stanhope. She is interested in sports and not in the fine ladies his mother presents to him. She falls in love with Louis Kappel, and while her mother disproves of it she continues with the relationship.
Mrs. Agatha Stanhope Sara Benns Stanley Sara Benns Stanley Agatha Stanhope is an old and old-fashioned woman. She is the mother of Lisa. She looks down on the poor and is critical. She doesn't like her daughter being with Louis Kappel but with time softens up.
Henry James Stanhope Michael Newell H.J. Stanhope is the family patriarch and a retired naval officer.
James Stanhope Michael Brody Michael Brody James is the Stanhope's eldest son and heir to the estate.
Jedediah Bogart Michel Bircamp Michel Bircamp Jedediah is the butler of the Stanhopes. Known for his loyalty to his master, he frequently expresses his opinion.

It has been announced that Davina Henneman will have a recurring role in the second season.


Season 1Edit

  1. The Hard Years 27 September 2011
  2. Milerose Beach 4 October 2011
  3. Out and About 11 October 2011
  4. Ten Years 18 October 2011
  5. Mirror Image? 25 October 2011
  6. No Bread 8 November 2011[2].
  7. A Chance Encounter 15 November 2011
  8. Dark Clouds 22 November 2011
  9. Rescued 29 November 2011
  10. L.O.V.E. 6 December 2011
  11. A Helping Hand 13 December 2011
  12. Christmastime 20 December 2011


The music in the series is largely original work composed by Ralph Newman, though Martin Carlotti wrote a few songs as well. The episode L.O.V.E. featured a song with the same name by Nat King Cole and the final episode featued the song White Christmas by Bing Crosby.


The Hard Years was very well received by critics and viewers alike. The show has consistently been one of the most-viewed in Brunant, but viewership figures have been slightly lower in the second season. Magazine Revue has praised The Hard Years for the "gripping stories" and "excellent attention to detail" and the "historical authenticity of everything seen on the show".


  1. Other scenes are in English and the scenes are subtitled for the viewers.
  2. There was no episode on November 1 due to a special presentation.