Thank you for joining me yet again, especially as I want start by saluting three actors we have lost in the past couple of weeks. Of course I must start with Sidney Poitier, who brought style and truth to acting in an era when black actors usually were limited to supporting roles. I guess his heyday was the 1960s, albeit he enjoyed a long career. Alas, to my knowledge he only once worked at Elstree in 1957 with Eartha Kitt in a long-forgotten minor film. I never met Sidney, much to my regret, but Eartha told me he was a joy to work with and a true gent in private life.

One of my biggest regrets is that I never interviewed all the great character actors I had the joy to meet over the past several decades, as their memories would have made a great book. During the 1950s and 1960s the acting profession had far fewer members, so you would often see actors and actresses turning up on screen playing similar characters.

We have just lost Jack Hedley, who some readers may remember in co-starring in the television series Colditz in the early 1970s and with Bette Davis in The Anniversary, shot at Elstree in the 1960s.

Then there is the loss of Nicholas Donnelly, who played Sergeant Wills in about 200 episodes of Dixon Of Dock Green between 1960 to 1976 and then came to the BBC Elstree Centre to play a teacher in 97 episodes of Grange Hill between 1985 to 1993.

They could of course have written autobiographies but usually publishers are not interested. Indeed my late actor pal Francis Matthews told me he did write his autobiography but it was declined as he had not filled it with 'tell all' scandals.

So Danny Dyer is leaving EastEnders in search of a 'career defining role'. It may not be easy, as along with Dick Van Dyke, playing cockneys when the real thing has almost died out may limit the roles. I myself can play a cockney at the drop of a pearly king glitter hat. Gawd blimey guv you have got me bang to rights so I will come peaceful once I can climb up the apples and pears. Everyday language these days within the sound of Bow bells.

Meanwhile the BBC have unveiled the new exterior set at BBC Elstree for EastEnders. It is very impressive, albeit you could have made ten Star Wars films back in 1976 for the same cost and yet no heads rolled at the BBC despite a damning Government report. We all know the BBC is the Titanic of broadcasting - doomed to sink within the next few years, which is a terrible shame yet those in charge still dance the night away. Probably my youngest readers never even watch traditional television.

Finally, on these winter nights do you like to go to bed with a DVD to watch under your luxury flannelette sheets and duck feather-filled eiderdown? Of course if you are somewhat younger than me you might have better plans but a good film lasts longer. I watched Young Frankenstein with Gene Wilder and directed by Mel Brooks and I laughed so much it brought on acid reflux, so beware.

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