Star Wars and On the Buses are all part of Elstree's centenary celebrations

Where else could you see stormtroopers and Routemasters in the carnival parade?

Star Wars characters in Borehamwood and Elstree's carnival parade

The wrong bus, but who cares? Celebrating On the Buses

First published in Paul Welsh Borehamwood Times: Photograph of the Author by

Well, the centenary celebrations of film production in Borehamwood are now beginning to take off. The banners are up, the special edition of the town magazine circulated, new road signs planned and last week, we saw the parade with its anniversary theme.

I thought it was one of the best parades in recent years and the theme greatly added to it. Of course, it can never be as large as it was in the 1980s as times have changed but very few areas have held onto their parades and it makes a great fun day.

It started in the 1950s and I had the pleasure to organise it from 1977 to 2008. Seeing the Star Wars characters in this year’s parade reminded me of 1978 when I borrowed a stormtrooper outfit used in the original Star Wars movie and walked the route. It was far longer then and it was a good way to lose about four pounds in sweat.

This year, instead of walking I took the lazy option and joined the residents’ association entry, which was a Routemaster bus loaned by Sullivan Buses and they adopted an On The Buses theme. The three spin-off films were made here, and I know a different type of bus was used but who cares?

I had the whole top deck to myself so I could look down regally on the parade and the watchers. I noticed how much the bus was photographed and how it brought a smile to people’s faces. No matter how advanced we become there is always that love of icons from yesteryear. I am talking about the Routemaster, not me.

I remember once in the 1980s we had a flypast over the parade from six light aircraft from the flying club at Elstree Aerodrome. They were just a few hundred feet above Shenley Road, or perhaps even lower, and we got into trouble with the Civil Aviation Authority.

It is funny to think that the five-year-olds on the back of floats in that first parade I organised in 1977 would now be 42 years old but I bet they still remember the occasion.

Tomorrow we have the 45-piece BBC Band playing film and television theme tunes at the Ark Theatre and I am sure it will be a sell-out, so if you are there, come and say hello.

The man who set up the BBC Elstree Centre in 1983, Keith Clement, is making his final appearance as the concert host. I remember going to the first informal concert given by the band at the BBC Elstree Centre in 1987 and immediately booked them for concerts at Christmas and in the festival, which they have done ever since. It will be a special evening and I cannot wait to hear the lovely music.

This weekend we have visitors coming to mark the 50th anniversary of The Avengers television series starting filming at Elstree Studios and our regular annual visit from the On The Buses fan club. This kind of tourism is great as they spend money in our community while celebrating our unique heritage.

Mind you, I hope they don’t play the On The Buses theme tune as I heard it 52 times on the parade and have yet to recover.

Finally, an exciting new exhibition in the museum at 96 Shenley Road has opened.

It celebrates the centenary of filmmaking and is a must to visit. Of course, we needed a far bigger space, as does the museum itself, but I think you will enjoy it.

If you have your own memories, please leave your details with the stewards. Contrary to rumours, I am not one of the exhibits.

It lasts for three months and it is a non-licensed building. Need I say more?

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