The Signalman (1976)

TV Short  |   |  Drama, Horror, Short
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 604 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 9 critic

A lonely Signalman is visited by a stranger.


(story), (adaptation)
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Complete credited cast:
The Signalman
Bernard Lloyd ...
The Traveller
Reginald Jessup ...
The Engine Driver
Carina Wyeth ...
The Bride


For this the sixth of the BBC's "A Ghost Story for Christmas" series we are presented with an adaptation of a Charles Dickens story rather than one by M.R. James. A traveler (Bernard Lloyd) sees a railway signalman (Denholm Elliott) in a lonely location. The signal box is situated between two steep sided hills close to the entrance to a tunnel. The traveler, shielding his eyes from the glare of the sun with one arm, waves to the signalman and cries out "Hallo, Below There". But he is puzzled when the railway worker not only does not reply to him but actually seems to be afraid of him. When the traveler reassures him that there is nothing to fear about him, the signalman welcomes the stranger into his signal box and begins to tell him a remarkable story. Written by Mark_a_Wood <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Horror | Short





Release Date:

22 December 1976 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Ghost Story for Christmas: The Signalman  »

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Did You Know?


The hat of the Traveller is of a slightly earlier period than the rest of the costumes in the film. Whilst accurate for the time judging by his cravat and collar he is fairly well-to-do, and by 1900 the high bowler was more lower class wear. See more »


Version of Suspense: The Signal Man (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

Brooding, effective Dickens ghost story
3 August 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This 40-minute gem is currently available as a filler feature on the DVD of HARD TIMES, part of a Dickens set containing many BBC classic productions. Because of the popularity of A Christmas Carol, many readers forget that Dickens churned out many other ghost stories for periodicals, and this is one of the best. It's a simple two-man show for the most part, with Denholm Elliott doing a working-class character: a railroad signalman haunted by apparitions that always predict an upcoming disaster. The claustrophobic set (a small signal tower near a railroad tunnel in a narrow "cut") is perfect for the story. The camera is used effectively, with a variety of angles and some nicely-planned shots. The only factor that dates this production to the 1970s is the use of cheesy electronic music effects from time to time. Otherwise it's a timeless, thoughtful classic short subject. Sure, you can predict how it's going to end; but you still want to wait and see how Dickens (and the director) bring it off.

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