Well, I have hung onto the wreckage for another week so welcome back to my weekly ramblings. A lovely lady came up to me last week and said she wanted to say hello but was afraid to approach me. I might be well known ­— whatever that means ­— but detest the culture of celebrity. I am just a one-time council house kid who has happened to have met many famous people over several decades. So if you see me out, come up and say hello and, if you wish, press a fiver in my hand as I am not proud.

I never understand why the BBC and other television makers pay so-called celebrities to take part in various quiz shows raising money for charity. Usually their fees outweigh anything won for their charity. They should be grateful for the exposure and do it for nothing or give their fees to their charity.

It is wonderful to see my old Elstree Studios being given a facelift in addition to two new wonderful giant sound stages and ancillary buildings. Apparently £220,000 is earmarked to give the the Maxwell Building a necessary exterior refurbishment. The building was opened in 1985 by Princess Anne, and I helped organise the event. The Princess asked to meet actual studio employees rather than just the usual dignitaries, which caused me a bit of a problem as the local mayors expected to be invited. We agreed a brief meeting in the building foyer to tick that box. The building was named after John Maxwell, who had created Elstree Studios in the 1920s. I suspect nobody knows that now.

Once Princess Anne had gone we had a party on one of the sound stages that was later demolished to make way for Tesco. There was a standing street set that had been built for a television advert and the Studio agreed to pay for its demolition if they allowed us to use it as a background. I suspect it was the last such party ever held at Elstree Studios as nobody knew what lay ahead. We had a free bar, several bands to play background and dance music and stalls serving food representing cuisines from around the world. I sat at a table with Trevor Howard and Michael Winner but alas the influence of alcohol means I have no other memory. For some reason we had a photographer there but no video footage. All these years later I suspect I may be the last man standing who remembers that occasion.

Talking of footage I have never seen, when we took over and reopened Elstree Studios in 1996 a group of students asked us to allow them to shoot a short film called I think The Dance Of Shiva, which was a World War One movie. They were clever in getting well known names to help out free of charge. I was interviewed and came along to witness the filming on the backlot. I remember enjoying a drink with Ken Branagh in the bar and chatting with legendary Oscar-winning cameraman Jack Cardiff. There was also a well-known tennis player, Pat Cash, and Paul McGann, an actor who played Dr Who in a film.

I do remember Jack standing on the infamous backlot mound and he could not resist taking control of the camera from the students. After all, he had started at Elstree in the 1930s and although he was very old, celluloid never leaves your blood. Until next time, take care.

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