I hope I find you all happy and healthy, or at least like me clinging to the wreckage. I am not in the best of health these days but as Bette Davis once said, growing old is not for weaklings.

Luckily I am still ahead of the game and having written this column for 45 years I am determined to get to the 50-year mark.

When I started writing about Elstree Studios in 1977 they were about to release a film called Star Wars and I still recall visiting the set. I wonder whatever happened to that movie? As I have said before on meeting George Lucas I expressed the opinion that it would flop as sci-fi film genre was as dead to cinemagoers as those old musicals.

I read an article in a famous national newspaper recently suggesting the filming of The Crown at Elstree Studios was being 'throne into chaos', which is such an amusing pun. Ok, whilst improving a 1960s building at the studio, asbestos is discovered. Wow, what a surprise, and with the usual safeguards its removal presents no problem. I don't like journalists who try to whip up a story with silly headlines. By the way how dare they describe Elstree Studios situated in Borehamwood as part of north west London and not in reality Hertfordshire. Just a tip from an old timer - always research before you write.

For some odd reason a memory has come back to me so I will bore you with it, bearing in mind you are getting this free of charge. I had a number of lunches at Elstree Studios in the executive restaurant, which is now just office space. On this occasion back in the mid-1980s I was dining with the then Lord Lt of Hertfordshire, Major General Sir George Burns, who had been the aide to the last Viceroy Of India. The meal was hosted by the late, great Andrew Mitchell, who was the studios' managing director. We were joined by Hollywood legend Douglas Fairbanks Jr and my friend Eva Hart, who survived the sinking of the Titanic aged 7 in 1912. Her Father went down with the ship.


RMS Titanic leaving Southampton on April 10, 1912. Photo: Francis Godolphin Osborn Stuart (1843-1923)

RMS Titanic leaving Southampton on April 10, 1912. Photo: Francis Godolphin Osborn Stuart (1843-1923)


In those days it became a joke with the chef that I always asked for just an omelette with chips. My reasoning was that it could be eaten quickly so I could converse more easily with whoever I was interviewing. Bear in mind I was a council house kid, but my Gran said never worry about silly titles or fame, it is the person that matters. Sadly in those days we did not have mobile phones to record such occasions and as it was a private meal there were no photographers. I am now the last one left alive but it was a long time ago. Sir George reminded me of Nigel Bruce in those Sherlock Holmes movies in which he played Watson alongside Basil Rathbone. I am told JD Wetherspoon named a pub after Eva Hart in her home town, which is odd as she told me she never drank alcohol. In my case they will need to name a brewery after me!

A few years ago I gave a talk at Elstree Studios about my memories and everybody was surprised, including me, that we got a full house. It would be fun to do it again as I now would rather leave fact than fiction behind me. When or if that happens I suspect it does not really matter. To older readers, what can I say other than the late Shaw Taylor on the Police Five television series 'keep your eyes peeled' or as my friend the late Jack Warner used to say on Dixon Of Dock Green 'evening all' . Next time on our memory walk you can accompany me to Scotland Yard's Black Museum, which I was invited to visit twice. Take care.

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