I am writing this looking out at my garden rejoicing in a day of rain although I am sure we still have plenty of sunny days ahead. This week we look back at a great British science fiction success story in the medium of film and television.

I refer to the tales of Professor Quatermass. Ok, younger readers - unless they are film buffs - will possibly not recall the name but for an earlier generation it will bring back memories.

It was originally shot as television series for the BBC based on scripts written by Nigel Neale in the 1950s. They were a great hit and it has been said that churches altered the time of their services and some pubs even emptied when each episode went on air. These were the days when you either saw it when transmitted or you missed out.

The success naturally attracted the film business and Hammer bought the rights to make movie versions. The first was shot at Bray Studios, now I believe awaiting demolition for housing, but I will concentrate on the two follow-up films as they were shot in Elstree and Borehamwood.

Quatermass 2 was shot by Hammer at the now long-gone New Elstree Studios that was actually situated in Elstree. Today a business park occupies the site. The professor was played by veteran Hollywood star Brian Donlevy, as in those days it helped sell a film in America even if the star was not shining so brightly anymore. The movie was renamed Enemy From Space in the US as audiences would not recognise the name Quatermass, which incidentally Nigel picked out of a London phone book. I assume therefore today there are people walking around with that name.

I think this is a great film and even if you do not like black and white movies give it a go. The exteriors were shot in a new town being built called Hemel Hempstead and the menacing Shell Haven Oil Refinery, which closed in 1999 and has subsequently been demolished as it is being turned into a deep water port.

Another scene was shot at the Ivinghoe Beacon and the director Val Guest told me of an amusing incident. They were shooting a scene with Brian but suddenly a gust of wind blew his hairpiece off and they had to abandon filming while the crew chased after it. Val also told me that Brian was never actually sober during filming but always knew his lines and hit his marks even if he did not understand what the scene was about. He enjoyed liquid lunches at the old Plough pub in Elstree high street and had some strange-flavoured coffee nearby on set. The writer hated his performance but I actually enjoy it. The film cost under £100,000 to make in 1957 and also stars Sid James in a straight role - he meets a sticky end - and veteran John Longden, who starred in the first British talkie, shot at Elstree Studios by Alfred Hitchcock and entitled Blackmail.

A decade later Hammer returned to the subject and produced Quatermass And The Pit, now in colour and costing £250,000. They were due to shoot it at Elstree Studios, the real one, but it was fully booked so they went a few hundred yards up the road to the great MGM British Studios that was standing empty except for The Prisoner television series. Poor old Brian was shortly to die from throat cancer so he was replaced by Andrew Keir .

I have the pleasure to know the female star of the film, Barbara Shelley, who made a number of supernatural - or, if you prefer, horror - movies over several decades. Sadly I hear that the film was not a success at the cinema, especially in America, so Hammer went back to gothic thrillers and television spin offs. However, I think it is quite entertaining and a good chance to see the great backlot street set at MGM, which they adapted for the film.

Well that is enough from me this week and I will look forward to your company next time. Incidentally, I do believe in aliens from outer space. I was once enveloped by a strange light on my return from the Mops and Brooms near Shenley one dark night and was probed. However, I was told by the Ministry of Defence to say nothing, so this is just between you and me.