From Grease to The Italian Job, Dirty Dancing to Jurassic Park, some classic and popular films will be able to be enjoyed from the socially distanced safety of your own car just off the M1 in Hertfordshire from next month.

The coronavirus pandemic has meant that a trip to the movies has not been possible for the past three months, but work is underway to convert a field at the Herts County Showground in Redbourn, just off junction 9 of the M1, into a drive-in cinema – and it will open with a thank you for NHS workers.

The drive-in was the idea of Stuart Merser, a video director in the music industry who has worked with some of the world’s leading artists including Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish with his company Vis-A-Vis Video.

The Covid-19 outbreak meant Mr Merser’s work came to a very quick halt at the start of March, but his mind soon started to turn to what to do with his unwanted new-found time.

He said: “I spend a lot of time in the States, drive-in movies are great, so what a great idea and it’s not a massive thing over here. I know a few people have done pop-ups, a few things in the park with a big screen, but I thought ‘I can do a proper drive-in, let’s just go for it’.

“I reached out to a few places that I know locally but I’ve been coming to the showground all my life, I live in Hertfordshire, I actually have a degree in agriculture, so I reached out to Sarah [Moreland] and it just seemed the perfect match.

“They’ve lost their show this year and I thought ‘what can we do? What can do we do that gives something back, gives the people of Hertfordshire something back and gives back to all the people that have lost out from the show and keeps me a little bit busy’. I’m not very good at sitting still, baring in mind I do 150-plus flights a year normally.”

Sarah Moreland is executive director of the Hertfordshire Agricultural Society, the organisers of the county show. This was cancelled on March 19 due to the Covid crisis and it forced the society to look at other cost cutting measures to ensure they could survive this year, and then look at what they could do.

She said: “Quite early on it was mooted that when things do get going a drive-in could be an option. We’ve got 70 acres of land and I did some early calculations and we could put 17,000 people on the showground with four square metres each, so actually you can do this quite well and spread out and be safe.

“Working with Stuart is great because he’s a local boy and has a real affinity with the agricultural society. We own the land but we are in a poor situation financially. We’ve had to fall back on our reserves to pay back all our traders and ticket holders. Some have kept their money in with us so it was a way to say thank you. But it’s a way to survive, it’s a way to generate a small income.”

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The 36-square metre screen has already been erected at the showground

Drive-In Movies is due to open for the first time on July 2 with a sing-a-long screening of Grease, but the wider public will have to wait 24 hours before they can experience the new cinema for the first time.

This is because the first Thursday of each month will see free tickets given to NHS workers and their guests, but they will have to bring a valid NHS ID that matches the name on their ticket to gain entry to the site that suits a drive-in due to its natural banking.

Mr Merser said: “It doesn’t mean the whole car has to be (NHS workers), but for one member of the household that’s an NHS worker that has missed out seeing their family and doing something with their family because they’ve been doing something amazing for the country it’s a little give back.”

Public screenings will begin on July 3 and admission will cost £30 per car or £40 for a premium ticket for the first two rows on the site which has capacity for 200 vehicles. Four-by-four vehicles and camper vans will be allowed, but they will be situated at the back to ensure everyone gets a clear view of the 36-square metre screen.

Ticket buyers will be allowed to bring their own refreshments, but Mr Merser said: “We’d love people to support the vendors that are here because they’re local and they have lost a lot this year, but we want to make it an open option that you choose how far you want to take your experience.”

All orders and payments for food and drink will be via an App-based system and each vehicle will be two metres apart to ensure people are socially distanced and can visit the toilet if necessary. These will be sanitised after each use.

Audio will be delivered directly into each vehicle through a sound bar and receiver which will also be sanitised between each screening, while child-friendly movies will also be shown in a Saturday morning Kids Club.

There will also be a VIP experience available for those who want to make a special occasion, such as a birthday treat out of their visit. In association with Webstract and costing £200, up to five people will be able to watch a film in a 1959 Ford Galaxie 500 with Dolby Atmos 7.2 surround sound and have ice cream, popcorn and drinks included.

Ticket sale details have still to be confirmed, but you can sign-up for updates, see details of the films that have been confirmed and when they will be shown and read further information here.