Well another week has passed by, along with almost half the year, which is a bit frightening, but thankfully the warm weather has arrived.

I am still working my way through various film books while enjoying the sun in my garden. I have just read a biography of that lovely Carry On star Joan Sims and it was a surprise to learn of her struggle with alcohol and her sad end.

Towards the end of Joan’s life she had financial worries and wrote to Peter Rogers, who had produced highly successful Carry On movies but paid the stars a pittance by today’s standards and refused them any income from repeat fees over the decades.

Apparently in Joan’s case she was paid just £2,500 for each film before tax. His reply was to refuse help in case it opened the floodgates from other Carry On stars. Peter himself lived to a ripe old age and apparently left about £3.5 million in his will.

I noticed that the actor playing the judge in the trial of Dot Cotten in BBC Elstree’s EastEnders was none other than William Gaunt. Half a century before, when the studio was ATV, he co-starred in the hit television series Sergeant Cork, and later in the 1960s, moved across to Elstree Studios to star in the cult TV series The Champions.

It must feel odd to come back to old territory playing virtually a bit part but work is work and William is a nice chap. I had the pleasure of meeting him a few years ago when he was a guest at one of my annual Elstree Film Evenings.

Those events took place from 1984 to 2008, and I had great fun hosting and organising the evenings and bringing back old stars and character actors to Borehamwood.

The list ranged from Frankie Howerd and John Mills to Anna Neagle and Trevor Howard, not to mention Herbert Lom, Richard Todd, Bryan Forbes, Peggy Mount, Adam Faith, Nigel Hawthorne and Lew Grade, just to mention a handful of the stars who attended over the years.

There were no appearance fees but just their support of my efforts to fly the flag for the historic legacy of the studios of Borehamwood.

I miss those occasions and one day I would love a ‘last hurrah’ at organising such an event, perhaps 
to raise funds for Elstree Screen Heritage, our volunteer heritage group.

I hear that the American television channel ABC has commissioned a new series of The Muppet Show, but this time with a more adult content policy, whatever that means. I hear the pilot episode got a standing ovation when shown to executives.

The older people amongst us will recall the original world-wide hit show was recorded at ATV in Borehamwood in the 1970s, but this I guess will be shot in Hollywood. That will be ironic as tinseltown originally rejected the show and Jim Henson went to Lord Lew Grade and that is why it was shot here.

I have just been watching that marvellous yet tormented star of yesteryear Charles Laughton, who started as an extra at Elstree Studios in the 1920s.

He moved to Hollywood in the early 1930s and is best remembered for his performances as Captain Bligh, starring opposite Clark Gable in Mutiny on the Bounty, and as the hunchback in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

In his private life he was apparently tormented by self doubt, his hatred of being overweight due to a glandular problem and being gay in a time when such things could destroy a career.

In 1996, I included him as one of our choices for a plaque to honour his career as part of the centenary celebrations of cinema in the UK. I invited actor Ralph Fiennes to unveil the plaque at Elstree Studios. I met Ralph at the premiere of the film Schindler’s List and was very impressed by his performance as the Nazi concentration camp commandant.

In real life, Ralph is a modest and almost shy man and has continued to enjoy a very successful career.

Later this year, I hope to visit Austwitz in Poland to acknowledge the 70th anniversary of its liberation. Poland is quite cheap to visit and I feel perhaps we should all visit such terrible places to help remind us why our parents and grandparents fought to free Europe of such horrors.

I had the pleasure of being co-master of ceremonies with old mate Nick Male at the town council VE Day celebration event on Woodcock Hill last weekend.

Movies tend to glorify war, but the reality is somewhat different. Films like The Dirty Dozen and Where Eagles Dare, both shot in Borehamwood, are good fun, but I salute the real people and not film stars who lived through those terrible years.

God bless all our veterans living in Elstree and Borehamwood.