The Signalman

Sarah's music was quite wonderful in its range of qualities: its ability to conjure period (and to subvert it when needed); to quickly establish and change mood and atmosphere; to tell and develop story; to be subtle when needed, as well as bold and intelligent; to be always melodic, distinctive and memorable; and more besides.

Andy Jordan, theatre director and producer, radio drama director

Charles Dickens’ ghost story, The Signalman, adapted for BBC radio drama. First broadcast on Christmas Day.

Listen now on BBC Sounds

The Music...

Strains of Victorian parlour music, ghostly refrains and dark musical soundscapes.

Sarah says….

The Signalman was a very inspiring and collaborative project to compose for. I created a multi layered score incorporating strings, waterphone, musical saw, piano, harp, electronics and tuned glass.

It was a joy to work again with one of Tonal’s featured musicians Francesca Simmons and with David Thomas on sound. Thanks also to David Tinson for his invaluable input with the mixes.

Featured musician Francesca Simmons


Dickens' The Signalman Theme And Variations

Spectre Slow Descent

Travel The Signalman

The Signalman - Harmonic strings & Musical Saw

Cast & Creatives

Director: Andy Jordan

Adaptation: Jonathan Holloway

Composer: Sarah Llewellyn

Sound Design: David Thomas

Production Co-ordinators: Sarah Tombling and Sarah Wright

The Signalman – Samuel West

The Visitor – James Purefoy

Mrs Carter – Sally Orrock

Train Driver – Nicholas Murchie

Strings, musical saw and waterphone performed by Francesca Simmons

A Pier production for BBC Radio 4



Jonathan Holloway’s fresh adaptation of Dickens’ popular eerie short story was broadcast on Christmas Day.

The Visitor on a recuperative walking holiday in the Sussex countryside happens upon a solitary signalman in a dank, icy cold railway cutting where the sun never shines, and unexpectedly finds himself part of a spooky tale of spectral, supernatural occurrences. At the centre of it is the railway tunnel with its hellish mouth, humming telegraph wires infused with the voice of prehistoric evil, an environment full of dread in which it is difficult to tell night from day, a constantly startled railway signalman, and The Visitor who is driven to ask more and more questions – all of which receive alarming answers