Well, I was able to cling onto the wreckage for another week so here I am again and I hope you are all well and as happy as you can be in these difficult times.

It is great news to hear that Elstree Studios is going to expand by building two massive sound stages and ancillary buildings funded by the owners Hertsmere Council and a grant from the Government. It is a £12 million project, but not a leap of faith. In recent years the studio has turned away millions of pounds worth of film and television work, including a Steven Spielberg movie, which is ironic as he once told me Elstree was his UK home. Plus the studio has lost about £500,000 a year from the Big Brother show being cancelled and the site it occupied has remained empty. The Big Brother house was built in the outdoor effects tank on the backlot that was made for the 1950s film Moby Dick, starring Gregory Peck.

The money the council is investing comes from its capital reserves, which are earning less than one per cent interest, and it will be paid back from the studio's profits over the next few years. It was a leap of faith when I was involved in getting the giant stages now named after George Lucas built in 1999 but it worked and put Elstree back on the map. I organised Prince Charles to open those stages and I think the studio should invite Prince William as our future king to do the honours this time.

Elstree Studios was rebuilt after the Second World War and consisted of four large sound stages. A silent stage, which means it was not soundproofed, was built in the 1950s. Years later it became the bus depot for the On The Buses films. The late Patrick MacNee told me they used it while filming The Avengers in the 1960s but had to stop if a low flying aircraft flew overhead. All these stages were demolished to make way for Tesco.

Another silent stage that met the same fate was the huge Stage Six, which from memory was about 30,000sq ft. It was built in about 1979 at a cost of £600,000 because George Lucas was unhappy that he had to film part of Star Wars at the large stage at Shepperton rather than have the whole production at Elstree. I still recall attending a Paul McCartney concert on the stage in 1989 just before it was demolished. The metal parts were dumped on the backlot. Shepperton Studios put in a bid as they were going to build a new stage but Brent Walker declined, so the manager formed a fake company and bid £35,000 for the metal. They accepted so part of Elstree now resides at Shepperton. Very few people know that but thankfully I have a memory.

I have another memory of Stage Six. They were filming a scene on it for Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. I was with the managing director of the studio and he told me Michael Jackson was coming to visit the set. In came Michael's blacked out limo and I was invited to meet him, which I declined. It was a stupid mistake as I could dine out on that story today. Ironically, years later Michael was booked into Elstree Studios to rehearse his London concerts but died before they happened. I must write all this down one day, but until next time take care.

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a Borehamwood writer and historian of Elstree Studios