A historian who has written a book about one of Britain’s greatest film studios says he welcomes Sky’s plans to build a new facility close to the site.

Paul Welsh’s new book MGM British Studios (Hollywood in Hertfordshire) is filled with images and interviews of people who worked at the studio before it closed.

MGM - which was separate to Elstree Studios - covered 115 acres of land off Elstree Way and was built in 1936 as Amalgamated Studios, but never opened under that name.

American film company MGM bought the building in 1944 and for the next 25 years films such as Ivanhoe, Inn of the Sixth Happiness, Village of the Damned, The Dirty Dozen, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Where Eagles Dare were produced there, until 1969 when MGM cancelled the production of Man’s Fate and shut the studio.

Mr Welsh said: “In America, MGM was losing millions of pounds a year and new management said they wanted everything cut back rapidly.

“They sold off back lots and cinemas. It was just unfortunate that it happened at that moment in time.”

Mr Welsh said he was able to explore the studio after its closure but was not able to take many photos.

He said: “I had a weekend to visit and I had 115 acres all to myself - I felt honoured.

“Sadly, in those days we didn’t have film or digital cameras. That’s the great sadness.”

But Mr Welsh says he welcomes the Sky’s plans - approved last week - to build a studio in Borehamwood, between Rowley Lane and the A1.

Mr Welsh says the studio will be built 100 yards away from where MGM studio stood 50 years ago.

He added: “Everything always comes around again and the studio is going to be much bigger.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that the future of film will continue in Borehamwood.

“Where else in the world has so many film studios in one town? It’s not bad for a small town in Hertfordshire.”

But Mr Welsh believes although the film industry will “bounce back” there will be challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “There is going to be problems because people in the studios have closed contacts with others during filming.

“Shows such as Strictly Come Dancing at Elstree Studio have live audiences which they will have to adapt to and the crews work close together.

“This is especially the case for actors because there might be close up shots and scenes where they’re in crowd.”

MGM British Studios (Hollywood in Hertfordshire) is available from the Elstree Screen Heritage website and costs £20 plus postage. All proceeds go to Elstree Screen Heritage and Elstree & Borehamwood Museum. Visit http://elstreescreenheritage.org.