THIS month is very special to me because it brings back a great memory.

It was February 1996 when the end came for the eight-year campaign I had chaired to save Elstree Studios.

The owners, Brent Walker, or more precisely the banks that they were hugely in debt to, conceded defeat and agreed to sell the site at a known-down price to Hertsmere Borough Council.

The price for the 15.5-acre studio 20 years later would just about buy you four new three-bedroom homes now being built in Borehamwood.

However, it was still a giant leap of faith as 12 acres had been sold to Tesco and the remaining studio buildings had been closed, unheated and stripped of everything for more than years.

Everything was gone. There was mould growing on dressing room walls and the massive underground car park had been sealed off, allowing it to fill with asbestos-contaminated water.

I was appointed chairman of the Elstree Studios Partnership company to liaise with the film industry, get the studio back on the map, refurbish existing buildings and build two new giant sound stages.

When the new stages were completed in 1999, I invited HRH Prince Charles to open them as he had presented me with an MBE at Buckingham Palace for helping to save Elstree.

It was a very proud moment to see how far we had progressed in three years.

I must mention the splendid efforts undertaken by Hertsmere Council officers Jim Hill and Neville Reid, and the all-party support for the project.

The capital investment by the council was significant and there were many doubters thinking we would end up with egg on our faces.

I faced the same problem leading the campaign, although the public and media were always behind us.

Now in retirement, I can indulge in a wry smile as the studios make millions each year, host some of the biggest television shows and exciting films under managing director Roger Morris and chairman Morris Bright.

Just as importantly, the profits go back to the council, allowing it to keep council tax down by more than 15 per cent for all borough residents.

Now if that is not a success story, who knows what is, but it shows what determination can achieve even against superior odds.

It is ironic that Elstree Studios also celebrates its 90th birthday this year, having opened for business as a silent film studio in 1926.

Stars from Hitchcock, Lucas and Spielberg to Sophia Loren, Cary Grant and Laurence Olivier have worked within its walls.

From Star Wars and The Shining to On The Buses and Confessions Of A Window Cleaner, audiences of all tastes have been entertained.

We must not forget the hundreds of TV shows produced, from iconic 1960s hits such as The Avengers and The Saint to Dancing On Ice and Strictly Come Dancing.

I first walked through the studio gates as a young lad in November 1960 to get the autograph of an old Hollywood star called Gary Cooper.

Celluloid replaced blood in my veins and for the past 56 years, I have accumulated so many wonderful memories.

Incidentally, for new readers, if you need to prop up a wonky table you can always buy my book of recollections, which is stuffed with fascinating photos.

It is called Elstree Confidential and is only available from the Elstree and Borehamwood Museum or Elstree Screen Heritage, which both have websites.

The income raised helps both those great volunteer bodies to keep our local history recorded forever.

Hopefully, readers will understand my love of Elstree Studios and my efforts in the campaign were voluntary so it was never about money. I do have some regrets. I recall visiting the sets of a new science-fiction movie being shot at Elstree and on being introduced to the bearded young American director and telling him such films were dead in the 1970s and it would flop. His name was George Lucas, the film was Star Wars and he is now a billionaire in California and I am a pensioner in Borehamwood.

That’s showbiz, folks.