This week, I have a pot pourri of items for you that come into my mind. It was nice to hear from that lovely lady Hayley Mills the other day, who is as ever fighting fit and about to embark on a theatre engagement in Australia with her equally delightful sister Juliet.

I first met Hayley when she attended the plaque unveiling for her father Sir John Mills, in his presence, which I had the pleasure to host at Elstree Studios in 1996. It was his last visit to the studio where his screen career had been given a big boost in a Will Hay comedy some 60 years earlier.

I still remember John saying to me as I walked him to his car: “If you hear of any parts for a nearly blind old man let me know Paul, as I am not finished yet.”

Years later, I helped Hayley sort out his archives at his home in Denham and was invited to his memorial service.

Sadly, I have attended the funeral of iconic screenwriter Brian Clemens, who began his great career at the old Danzigers Studio in Elstree in the 1950s. He went on to help create the cult TV series The Avengers, and later The Professionals, among many, many credits.

I had known Brian since he attended one of my Elstree Film Evenings a few years back and interviewed him on camera at his home for the Elstree Project about two years ago. The church was crowded, although I did not spot many film and TV people, but there were nice messages from Patrick Macnee and Joanna Lumley, plus tributes in person from two Hammer film stars.

After a lovely service, Brian’s coffin was led out to the tune of The Avengers and sadness was tempered by the fact he had lived a long and happy life creating screen magic.

I was also very saddened to learn that another of our Elstree Project interviewees had been knocked down and subsequently died following a road accident. I refer to Johnny Goodman, who had a long list of credits, including being production superviser on The Saint TV series at Elstree Studios in the 1960s.

Ironically, I had only bumped into him the week before in Shenley Road and at 87 he was as hale and hearty as ever. I am so glad we have these true gentlemen on film recalling their careers so future generations can celebrate their talents, but I still find their passings difficult.

I see Katie Price won Celebrity Big Brother. Well done to her, though I think Callum Best should have won. I have read Katie was parachuted in at short notice after they had to evict two celebrities and some reports say she was paid half-a-million pounds. I sincerely hope that is not true as I am not clear why Katie is famous or why television pays such sums when the average member of the public actually works for their income.

It’s all a bit crackers to me, but I am an old fossil, as my younger friends refer to me.

Back in 1996, we reopened Elstree Studios after it had been closed for three years and was near derelict. At the end of that year, I took on the role to organise a celebration reopening party, which happened to coincide with the 70th birthday of the studio. The local great and good were invited and I rustled up some old stars such as Christopher Lee, Pat Coombs, Burt Kwouk, Ron Moody, Peter Wyngarde, Liz Fraser, Sylvia Syms, Barry Morse, Peggy Cummins, William Lucas, Nigel Hawthorne and others.

However, rather than a modern star, I insisted that the celebration cake be cut by a real Elstree veteran who could represent the studio workers and crews over those 70 years. Luckily, I was able to track down veteran cinematographer Eric Cross, who had actually started at Elstree in 1926. He was in his 90s, but was great and went on to live to be more than 100, so there is something in the Borehamwood waters. 

Thank you once again to those of you who come up to me and say you enjoy these weekly ramblings, even after 38 years. When I am typing this by the light of a candle in my attic with a fleece over my knees, it warms the cockles of my heart.