Charlie Chaplin once described Elstree Studios as the ‘home of the British film industry’. But it could be argued that its influence and reach extended further and deeper than the cosy corners of the British Isles.

Indeed, in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Elstree began exporting a number of motion picture breakthroughs, including multi-lingual productions. One such film was Atlantic, based on the unfortunate voyage of the Titanic, which was recast and shot three times with both English, French and German speaking actors.

Then, in the post-World War Two period, and with some much-needed financial backing from Warner Bros. after years of service to the war effort, Elstree began to see an American influence wash though its corridors and sets. By the 1950s, a host of Hollywood’s finest were working there, from Sophia Loren and Gregory Peck, to David Niven and Errol Flynn.

Elstree Studios started life, however, from more modest beginnings, as a relatively unknown facility in an even lesser known village on the periphery of the capital. Neptune Studio in Borehamwood opened in 1914 and, owing to its excellent rail and road access from London, it caught the eye of two men in the 1920s - British film producer Herbert Wilcox and Hollywood producer J.D Williams – whom it just so happened were looking for a location to build a new film studio.

Then in 1925, when building had commenced, Herbert Wilcox renamed it Elstree Studios because Elstree was more geographically established.

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Today, the studio is best known for hosting some of the highest rated television programmes in the country, including Dancing on Ice, The Voice and Big Brother. Other popular entertainment shows such as Strictly Come Dancing, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, The Chase and Room 101 also at one time or another called Elstree home.

But it is the studio’s continued use for some of Hollywood’s most successful major motion pictures that elevate Elstree among the very top names in film production in the UK, alongside Pinewood and Warner Brothers Leavesden.

It is quite staggering to think that less than ten miles from where you are sitting, no doubt with the ever-expanding catalogue of Netflix at your fingertips, the very names and faces who populate that menu of action, comedy and romance where shooting those scenes on our very doorstep. Such Hollywood productions include Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows starring Robert Downey Jnr, World War Z with Brad Pitt, and the 2010 British historical drama The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper and starring Colin Firth, and the unparalleled and sublime Geoffrey Rush.

Elstree can also be credited for launching the screen careers of many actors when it first began to pick up pace in the 1930s, from Charles Laughton, to Anna Neagle and Googie Withers, to Laurence Olivier who would go on to become one of the most skilled and revered character actors of a generation.

During the Second World War, the studio closed down to be used as an ordinance depot and garrison theatre by the British Army. Elstree’s owner, John Maxwell, who took over the facility when J.D Williams lost the backing of his South African investors, died during the war years and his widow sold a sizeable portion of his shares to Warner Bros. who agreed to rebuild the studio after the war ended, because it still bore damage sustained in a fire in 1936.

In the 1960s the studio underwent something of a transformation, moving away from some of the grittier drama pieces it had produced, such as the ground-breaking Look Back in Anger with Richard Burton, in favour of musicals and comedies. It signed up television talent who would go on to become household names, like Tony Hancock and the baby-faced Charlie Drake to star in The Rebel and The Cracksman, and Cliff Richard in Summer Holiday and The Young Ones.

The 60s also saw international television hits produced at Elstree, including The Saint and The Avengers.

By the 1970s, the studio was hiring out its sound stages for producers and freelancers, and Bryan Forbes had been appointed head of production by Elstree’s new owners EMI. Forbes commissioned several of the studio’s most successful movies including The Railway Children based on the book by Edith Nesbit, and the American film director Stanley Kubrick also produced The Shining there based on the Stephen King novel of the same name.

Murder on the Orient Express saw a gallery of stars come to Elstree including Albert Finney, Sean Connery, Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman.

Then, in 1976, a young American filmmaker named George Lucas decided to base his new science fiction movie at Elstree, starring Alec Guinnesss, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If you would like a book documenting the fascinating history of Elstree Studios, please call 0208 953 1600.