Despite claiming Elstree Studios was a “series of tin sheds off the A1”, the late film producer Michael Winner still supported a campaign to save it from closure.

The 77-year-old, who directed West 11 at the Elstree Way studios in 1963, died at his home in Kensington this morning after battling with liver disease.

Film historian Paul Welsh has fond memories of the “larger than life” character after he wrote him a cheque for the save Elstree Studios campaign.

The studios almost shut its doors in 1988, but after a seven year battle – spearheaded by Mr Welsh himself – it was saved.

Mr Welsh said: “I was very cross with him as he believed the studios should close – he preferred the realism of shooting on location.

“He called it ‘a series of tin sheds off the A1’. But to give him his due, he was one of the only filmmakers to donate money to support the campaign.

“He said – I do not believe in what you are doing, but I do believe in your right to do it, and so I wish you success in your ambition.”

Mr Welsh met the director a few times at the studios over the years and said he certainly made an impression.

He remembers him as being very extrovert, quiet and self opinionated – and his strong views did not always make him the most popular character around the studios.

He added: “He was a fun character – larger than life, and that is what you need sometimes. In the film business, you always have to be over the top.

“The few times I met him, he made my life interesting. It is so sad to hear he has gone.”