I find it hard to believe but in a couple of months it will be time to mark the 60th anniversary of the release of The Dam Busters — the most iconic of Elstree Studios’ 1950s films.

Youngsters today still mimic a flying aircraft and the theme tune, probably without any knowledge of the film or the real-life events on which it was based.

The film’s director Michael Anderson, now in his 90s and living in Canada, told me it was such an important picture for the studio that they spent two years researching and preparing for it, and he was told he would be sacked in the first weeks of production if they were unhappy with his direction.

I had the pleasure to know the star of the film Richard Todd for many years, and I hosted the plaque unveiling in his honour at the studio in 1996. He was a modest man and a real gent and ironically, the last time we met was when Elstree Screen Heritage showed the film at our local cinema a few years ago.

I sat beside him as we watched perhaps his greatest screen success.

Back in 1989, I hosted the 75th anniversary of filmmaking in Borehamwood at Elstree Studios with many famous guests. They included the cinematographer of the film Erwin Hillier and several of the real RAF veterans who had taken part in that famous raid on the German dams in 1943.

The then officer in charge of the famous 617 Squadron also came and kindly invited me to be a guest at their then base at RAF Marham. I travelled there a couple of months later and was given lunch in the officers mess and an escorted tour of the base. Not bad for a council house kid from Borehamwood.

They also invited me to sit in the cockpit of a tornado bomber, which thankfully stayed on the ground. It was so different from the old bombers and today, I doubt I could work my way in and out of the
cockpit without a hoist.

They kindly presented me with a 617 Squadron tie, which I wore in New York a month later.

I was wearing it in a lift when an American veteran spotted it and praised me, assuming I was an RAF veteran. I went along with it so as not to spoil the moment, but felt guilty afterwards.

When the film was shot they borrowed several old Lancaster bombers from the war ministry but alas, they were scrapped after filming. Had Elstree mothballed them, today they would be worth millions each, but such is the value of hindsight.

I suspect there is hardly anyone with us today who worked on or appeared in the film version. I know my actor friend John Fraser, now retired and living in Spain, had a role, but the recent death of Richard Thorp, later known for his role in Emmerdale, may mean he is the last survivor of the cast.

The theme tune to the film has become a classic movie score and is so evocative that it has lasted 60 years. In the 1980s, I was invited to travel with the BBC Elstree Concert Band to our twin town of Offenburg in Germany. My role was to introduce each piece of music to the hundreds of Germans who packed the concert hall.

Can you guess which tune they decided to play as part of their programme?

Yes, The Dam Busters March, leaving me to explain it to the audience.

Naturally,  they took it with good humour and in the second half of the concert, the local German band took the stage and played the German Air Force March, which nicely evened it out.

I no longer organise events at Elstree Studios, but personally, I would think it a good idea to celebrate the 60th anniversary of such an iconic Elstree film.

The last time Richard Todd was at Elstree Studios, prior to his plaque unveiling, was in 1988 when I was asked to be the programme consultant on a two-part BBC TV documentary. We lined up a shot in which he walked off into the distance as he did at the end of The Dam Busters.

The shot was spoilt by Harrison Ford emerging from a stage door dressed as Indiana Jones and the footage ended on the cutting-room floor. That’s showbiz.