Well difficult times are here but to me it is about how you react. I have to self-isolate for 12 weeks due to health and age, which is hugely boring but necessary. I know many of my readers are in the same boat. Friends are rallying around to support me and that applies in so many cases where younger people are stepping up and I applaud. As for the panic buyers and me-first brigade: when this is over I hope you can look in the mirror as you disgust me. Sorry I just felt I had to make that statement and it is only my personal opinion.

These are tough times for the BBC Elstree Centre and Elstree Studios. The latter usually plays host to audience-attended shows like Pointless and The Chase, which I assume will need to adapt to no audiences in the studio.

We have already heard that EastEnders and Holby City have stopped filming due to the large number of crews and casts involved. Many crew members are freelancers today so it will hit hard.

However, thankfully this column can retreat from reality and that is my mission so here we go. I was asked the other day what was my favourite lunch date at Elstree Studios. I should explain in the old days the Studio had an executive restaurant where I would often interview people over lunch. The riff raff such as film crews and studio employees lunched in the canteen below. That is now the function room whereas the executive restaurant is a series of office rooms. Actually I preferred downstairs because I am a council house kid and proud of my roots, and it was cheaper.

When I dined upstairs it became a running joke with the chef as I always ordered just a cheese omelette. That enabled me to eat quickly so I could spend more time interviewing. Alas, I cannot even remember some of those lunches but one does stick in my mind. Now remember I am a council house kid from Borehamwood. I was asked by the Studio to help organise a visit by Princess Anne to open the new Maxwell Building. At the same time I was asked by the BBC Elstree Centre to lure Hollywood legend Douglas Fairbanks Jr back to their site so they could name a building after him as he had run it in the 1950s.

The result was a lunch at Elstree Studios that I still remember about 35 years later. Major General Sir George Burns was then the Lord Lt of Herts attended. He reminded me of Nigel Bruce who played Watson in those 1940s Basil Rathbone films based on Sherlock Holmes. He was the ADC to the last Viceroy of India. Douglas Fairbanks Jr attended and I also brought along Eva Hart, who at the age of seven survived the sinking of the Titanic, to ensure that the conversation flowed. They were all lovely people but damn it I can no longer remember what we talked about. I suspect I just listened, as how could my memories match their recollections and remember I was young then.

Alas they are all gone now. Today I guess one would take a selfie to record the occasion. Back then it was not the done thing to have a photograph taken. Even now I have never taken a selfie and not sure my simple phone is up to it. The Princess Anne visit went off well and at the after party I found myself drinking with Trevor Howard and Michael Winner, but that is a story for another day. Douglas cut the ribbon at the naming of his building at the BBC, again another story for another day. I must leave you now as I am about to play Eric Idle singing Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios