This week we journey back to 1970: can you believe that is nearly half a century ago? It certainly makes me wonder where the decades have gone!

We visit Elstree Studios, which is awash with red ink and fighting falling attendances at cinemas plus the withdrawal of Hollywood money as Tinsel Town itself feels the pinch. It still looks like it was after the rebuild in 1948 plus has three new stages built a couple of years earlier.

EMI were the owners and they decided in 1969 to appoint Bryan Forbes to become head of production, with the task of keeping the several hundred employees busy and make box office successes to offset the mounting losses.

Bryan became a friend later in life and told me: "When I arrived I expected a battlefield but not the damn Somme. We were still hampered by outdated union rules, buildings that had not been upgraded and I was expected to put into production several films for which I was promised a revolving fund which actually never revolved."

Bryan did his best but he had enemies within the board room, including the late producer Nat Cohen who had wanted the job. Some feel Nat may have been more in touch as Bryan wanted to make family films while cinemagoers could see such subject matter for free on television. Bryan ploughed ahead and had critical success with The Go Between, which starred the lovely Julie Christie and went on to receive the Grand Prix award at the Cannes Film Festival.

The great character actor Lionel Jeffries told me he was forever grateful for being allowed to direct the now classic The Railway Children and the Tales Of Beatrix Potter is also fondly remembered.

Get Carter, starring Michael Caine and a great actor Ian Hendry, who sadly drank himself to an early grave, did well at the box office. However, there were flops like Raging Moon, starring a young Malcolm McDowell, and Dulcima, starring veteran actor John Mills.

The following year Bryan resigned early from his contract and the studio lurched on.

Hammer films did their best to keep the sound stages busy at Elstree in 1970 with movies such as The Vampire Lovers, Scars Of Dracula and the Horror Of Frankenstein, but times and tastes were changing and these films struggled to compare with those of its heyday in the 1950s and 1960s. One non-Hammer film did enjoy some success starring the legendary Vincent Price: The Abominable Dr Phibes.

On the comedy front the studio was home to a television spin off — a popular idea of cheap and cheerful films of that time — entitled Up Pompeii, starring Frankie Howerd, and Percy, a comedy about a penis transplant, both of which proved a success.

Within a couple of years Elstree Studios was all but dead in the water and plans were drawn up to redevlop the 28-acre site. What saved it from going the way of the wonderful MGM Studios just up the road? Well it was a combination of factors. Staffing levels were drastically reduced and the four-wall system was introduced. This meant a skeleton staff remained, the craft departments were franchised out and films employed freelance staff.

The excellent sound department had a worldwide reputation and helped promote Dolby Sound, which became a big money maker. Then in 1976 Star Wars made its home at Elstree and a profitable new era began. The tragedy was that a decade later the studio was making a good profit but the land value had dramatically increased. Had those inflated land prices existed in 1970 I doubt Elstree Studios would be anything but a distant memory today.

It was my pleasure to invite Bryan back to the studio in 2008 along with his lovely wife Nanette Newman and his old pal Dickie Attenborough for a plaque unveiling in his honour. Sadly it proved to be the last visit by both fine actors but I salute their contribution to cinema and God bless them.