This week I have decided to concentrate on one Elstree Studios star whom I was lucky enough to know as a friend in his later years. I am referring to the late Richard Todd, who I guess most of you will remember for starring in that classic 1950s true-life film The Dam Busters as Guy Gibson, who led 617 Squadron on that famous raid.

Richard served his time in regional theatre before the Second World War and served with distinction as an officer during the war itself, including serving at Arnhem. When he was demobbed he returned to acting and was signed up as a newcomer by Elstree Studios. His big break came at a cocktail party at the studio when a director was looking for a young unknown to star opposite Hollywood import Ronald Reagan in Elstree's first major post war production, The Hasty Heart. By luck Richard had played the role on stage and they gave him a chance.

He recalled: "The picture was a success, thousands turned out for the premiere in Leicester Square and I was nominated for an Oscar. The irony was that the lighting cameraman earned more than me on the film as I was on a modest contract."

In the 1950s the Board of Directors at Elstree Studios were, shall we say, a rather stuffy bunch without much showbiz flair but good businessmen. For instance they declined to sign Brigette Bardot because she was "too French" but did sign up Audrey Hepburn, failed to use her talents but then made a fortune by loaning her out to Hollywood.

Richard was to spend about 16 years under contract to Elstree but was loaned out to other companies including Disney and played a variety of roles including Rob Roy and Robin Hood.

He told me his casting in The Dam Busters was a joy for him, recalling: "We spent a lot of time making it accurate as the events had happened only a few years earlier. The production rented some then obsolete Lancaster Bombers from the RAF for the flying sequences but sadly they were scrapped soon after."

The director of the film, Michael Anderson, told me: "The Studio spent two years preparing the movie and I was given the assignment to direct but told I would be sacked if the early rushes were not up to their liking. Working with Richard was a joy."

In 1989 I was asked to be the programme consultant on a two-part television documentary about Borehamwood's film history with on screen host and one-time local resident David Puttnam. I recall we were shooting Richard wandering around Elstree Studios when out of a sound stage door in the background came Harrison Ford dressed as Indiana Jones. I wish we could have included that footage as 1950s Elstree hero meets a 1980s Elstree hero but such permission was not forthcoming.

In the mid 1990s I was pleased to host a plaque unveiling at the studio honouring Richard and reuniting him with fellow actors from his old films. I still recall Bernard Cribbens telling us he had appeared in a Naval drama called The Yangtse Incident with Richard in the 1950s but they never met as he played a sailor below decks and Richard was the officer in charge.

Like Jack Hawkins, Cary Grant and others, Richard never got a knighthood and when his screen career faded he returned to the stage up until almost the end of his life. As a final tribute I proposed his surname be adopted as a street name in Borehamwood, which thankfully the council and developers accepted. I doubt anyone living in that close will know who it is named after, but that is showbiz.