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Shadows (1975-78)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The Waiting Room, tx. 24/9/1975
Writer: Jon Watkins
Director: Stan Woodward

Partygoers Sue and Gerry, a teenage brother and sister, have just missed the last midnight train home from Burberry Halt to Becksop and resign themselves to waiting for the first morning train at 5.30. The waiting room appears curiously deserted, dusty and cobwebbed and the ticket office hatch is closed.

The pair doze, and are surprised when a railwayman appears at the door. He assumes they are waiting for the 1.30am night service. Sue rechecks her pocket timetable and there is no such train listed. The railwayman points to it on the timetable on the wall but the timetable is headed 'Great Western Railway' and dated 1925 - this is February 1975. He explains how he came to work here as a relief fireman after injuries sustained in the Great War in 1915 - this would make him at least 80 years old.

A well-to-do woman carrying a small dog arrives in the waiting room. Her fox stole and cloche hat are distinctly 1920s in style. She explains she has to dash away on the night train to visit her sick mother. Quickly turning to the ticket office, she buys a ticket just as the train arrives. Gerry realises the room is filling with steam from the platform - but there are no steam trains any more. The teenagers make excuses about being met off the 5.30 so they will wait for that as planned. The two strangers take their train.

The teenagers then discover the door is jammed shut. Desperate to escape, Gerry forces open the closed ticket booth shutter but there is no-one inside, the office is abandoned and dusty like the waiting room. Suddenly the telephone in the ticket office rings and a panicked voice begs Gerry to stop the 1.30 leaving the station to avoid a terrible accident. Gerry then realises the phone wire is frayed and rusted, clearly disconnected years ago.

Shaken, Gerry lights a fire but Sue finds a newspaper in the grate dated 18 February 1925, exactly 50 years ago to the day. It tells of a fatal railway accident, with railwayman Arthur Osborne and passenger Victoria Draycott both killed.

At dawn a railwayman appears. Looking exactly like Osborne, he announces the arrival of the morning train just as a woman carrying a small dog arrives. The panicked teenagers run off.

The waiting room lies empty again. The ticket office phone begins ringing.