A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... in fact it wasn't that long ago and it wasn't far away at all. In fact the first Star Wars films were shot at Elstree Studios and later Leavesden,

Today is Star Wars Day - May the 4th be with you - and reporter Alex Alley's father worked on some of the original films, so who better to look back on life on set at the iconic series.

My Father was only 17 when he started working on films as a plasterer, helping to make props, sets and structures for some of the most iconic films of the time.

One of the movies my father, Louis Alley, 54, worked on, was Star Wars, back when it was filmed in EMI or Elstree studios and later Leavesden.

He came to the job on an apprenticeship that my grandfather, Harry Alley, helped him get while working on Ridley Scott’s Alien.

This apprenticeship ended up being a four-year course but his first job was as a plasterer on The Empire Strikes Back in 1978.

He said: “I was never really a fan of Star Wars.

“I wasn’t particularly awestruck by the film, it was big but wasn’t my cup of tea.

“It was an excellent job nonetheless. There was always something new happening on the film, you were never bored."

His earliest job on Star Wars was helping build the famous X-Wing fighter, and he later helped make the props such as guns and Darth Vader’s helmet.

“My first task on the film was to help make the nose of the fighter that Luke Skywalker uses. It was a simple enough job.

“Later we were asked by the armoury guys to help make the guns.

“We didn’t make the Stormtrooper armour since that was all vacuum-pressed plastic but the guns we modelled.

“I remember when we made the blasters.

“The guys came in with real Second World War guns - big, heavy and made of metal.

“So we used rubber or plaster to make a mould and we would then fill them with fibre glass.

“We made hundreds of these guns, pistols, machine guns and rifles.

“We then made Yoda’s hut, which was a small little house.

"We would have to hide in it when the actors were on set because apparently Mark Hamil, who played Luke Skywalker, didn’t like to be looked at when acting. He told us off once.

“It was very different back then we could see the stars on the stages and I even remember seeing Harrison Ford on Raiders of the Lost Ark, my second film, practicing with the whip in a corner.

“It was not like it is today. Acting back then was just seen as a job like any other.

“We also ended up making Darth Vader's helmet, in fact we made about 20 because we needed spares."

When my father worked on Return of the Jedi - at the time it was called Revenge of the Jedi - he was already a qualified plasterer.

He said: “I was finished with my apprenticeship, we would work from half eight to half six, weekends included, which was great because we got overtime.

“I remember working on the wall panelling of the Millennium Falcon, it was these cushions that we had to stick on the wall and you could probably see them in the film.

“My last Star Wars film was The Phantom Menace, which was the last in George Lucas’s series that was made in this country at Leavesden before he went to Australia.

“By this point I had become a father and remember bringing my oldest boy Chris, who was probably around eight at the time to the studio.

“He got to jump in one of the golden fighter planes that they used in the film.

“Then after helping us out with chores in the workshop all the lads contributed to a pay slip for him, so I guess he earned his first pay on the set of Star Wars."

My father believes moving filming away from Elstree and Leavesden was a loss to the industry.

He added: “It was a shame they moved the films from this country to make the prequels.

“You can see the difference. No one in the world has the talent that some of the guys in a British film industry have.

“That’s probably why you saw so much green screen in the later films.

“We have incredible talent here. We can make brick walls out of plaster and paint, a speeder on Star Wars out of fibre glass and still make it look like chrome, I remember even making the Ewok’s feet and C3po’s arms.”