Very sad to hear that we have lost yet another old star, this time veteran actor Richard Johnson, who enjoyed a long and successful stage career and starred in a number of movies over several decades.

Richard was probably best known in the 1960s for starring alongside several famous Hollywood names, and it has been reported he was offered the role of James Bond before Sean Connery was cast, but had to decline due to contractual problems.

He did appear in a number of movies made in Borehamwood, including the classic supernatural thriller The Haunting at MGM, starring opposite Charlton Heston in his vanity project, a film version of Julius Caesar at MGM, and in the all-star Aces High at Elstree.

I met Richard at Elstree Studios in 1980, when his screen career had slipped and he was guest starring as a vampire in a low-budget horror movie called The Monster Club. He joked: “One day you are starring opposite Charlton Heston in a blockbuster like Khartoum, blink and you are having a stake driven through your heart in Borehamwood.”

Has anyone been watching Big Brother? To think the tank in which the house is situated was once home to scenes from films such as Moby Dick, The Guns Of Navarone and Indiana Jones And The Last 

However, in truth, the tank was obsolete and far better water facilities exist at Pinewood Studios nowadays. I recently watched a one-hour BBC documentary on that studio’s 80th birthday, even though it did not officially open until September 1936. They got round that by saying building commenced in 1935. Mainly it was the Jonathan Ross show from Pinewood and it felt like an overblown promotional film with scant historical information or meaningful interviews for film buffs.

I dread to think what the BBC spent on such a limp effort, but it is good to see studios trumpeted, and Pinewood is the equivalent of any Hollywood Studio today.

I first visited Pinewood more than 40 years ago and it has certainly grown. The irony is that it started in 1936 with a injection of money from the owners of the Borehamwood British & Dominions Studio, which burnt down in February of that year, and the owners decided to invest in Pinewood rather than rebuild here. The cause of that fire was never properly determined, but as it was losing money some speculated it was very “convenient”. However, even after 80 years, no names, no pack drill as we old soldiers used to say.

It is also ironic that the latest Star Wars movie was shot at Pinewood, as Elstree is considered too small, yet in 1975 Pinewood turned down hiring space to the original Star Wars as they did not want all their sound stages commandeered by one movie, so they lost it to Elstree.

The irony is probably lost as nobody in the  Pinewood or Elstree management structure today was at those studios then, so that is all history.

If you want to see a decent documentary, why not join us for another screening of From Borehamwood to Hollywood at 96 Shenley Road this Sunday at 3pm. This fascinating 90-minute treat tells the story of 100 years of film and television production in Borehamwood at six different studios, with archive footage, clips, recent interviews with everyone from Ruby, a tea lady at MGM in the 1950s, to Steven Spielberg and Simon Pegg.

We had a lot of help making the documentary from various film companies, University of Herts students and lovely people like my old mate Barbara Windsor, who co-hosts with me. The free tickets are available from the reception at 96 Shenley Road.

Incidentally, I wonder how many consultants and expense accounts were used by Hertfordshire council to come up with such a splendid name. If you don’t know what I am talking about, it is a building in the middle of Shenley Road that houses the library, community facilities and the museum.

Another old mate, Dave Prowse, who played Darth Vader in the original Star Wars movies, may drop by but no promises.

So far, over 1,000 residents and film fans have turned up for previous screenings, which is amazing for a documentary. Howard Berry did a great job producing and directing it and thankfully all I had to do was appear every so often, usually propped up, and spout a few off the cuff words. I did it for free and for the love of the subject. I wonder what the BBC paid Ross to host its  documentary.

Meanwhile, the Elstree Project continues to interview Elstree and Borehamwood film and television veterans on camera, with about sixty now in the can, and this year we hope to have a computer system up and running that will make these available free of charge around the world. Unlike some archives, our aim is not simply to gather memories, but also to share them with anyone who is interested. If you worked in the local studios then let us know – your memories are valuable to us and being interviewed by me is quite painless.