Home Television Drama Signalman, The

Signalman, The

1 9 7 6 (UK)
1 x 40 minute episode

An annual Christmas treat in the UK in the 1970s, A Ghost Story For Christmas put fear into the festive season.

In 1976, the sixth in the series was a spooky drama called The Signalman, based on a short story by Charles Dickens. Creepy and disturbing, it was the perfect antidote to sleigh bells and mince pies.

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The tale featured a lonely, middle-aged signalman (Denholm Elliott) and an ominous traveller (Bernard Lloyd) who is invited into the signal box.

There, the signalman tells the traveller about an apparition he sometimes sees at the entrance to the railway tunnel, after which an awful tragedy always ensues – first a crash in the tunnel and then a bride who fell from a train. The final victim turned out to be the signalman himself.

Elliott captured the protagonist’s increasing desperation beautifully, while the tone of the piece was supported by the atmospheric Victorian setting.

Even when you knew what was coming, the end was still a shock.

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Denholm Elliott
Bernard Lloyd
Engine Driver
Reginald Jessup
Carina Wyeth