This week it is a bit of a mix of comments rather than one particular theme, which on occasions is a nice change.

I will start by saying that just as I began writing this article my phone rang and who should it be but my old friend Jess Conrad. I am such an admirer of this guy and his ability to survive this silly biz we call show for several decades. Many light up the sky for a brief time like shooting stars and other survive longer but then fade away. Jess began in the 1950s and went on to become a star of several films and a pop singer. Then he became a West End music star playing Joseph and Jesus on stage. Today he is of certain age but still does not stop doing concerts and making guest appearances on television. Jess tells me he will shortly be seen portraying Batman in a television documentary. He plays Adam West, who was the iconic Batman in that wonderful television series of the 1960s.

What annoys me about Jess is that he never looks any older, while I know look like my grandfather.

I have commented to the people planning the wonderful new Sky Studios that rather than call it Sky Studios Elstree name it Sky Studios Borehamwood to make it original. Alas, but for understandable branding reasons they feel Elstree is best as that is a name known throughout the world. I cannot argue with that but at least I tried.

I have read that Harrison Ford might yet make another Indiana Jones although he is slipping rapidly towards 80. However, who can say when you should hang up your whip? The first three films were of course shot at Elstree Studios and I still have fond memories of the sets and meeting Harrison. From memory, the last one was shooting when we launched the Save Elstree Studios campaign in 1988. I was appointed chairman but the campaign was initially launched by Pat Carr, who was I think the production supervisor on the film. She got me on set to chat with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg while Harrison and Sean Connery were rehearsing a scene. The unit publicist was put out as to why I was allowed such access. The publicist tape recorded our conversation but would not allow me a copy. Now, 32 years later, I would love to hear it, but that is showbiz. Sean kindly signed one of our petition forms. He wished us every success but held out little hope. I wish I had kept that form, but handed it in with the other 15,000 signatures to Hertsmere Council. I assume they will have long since been dumped. We actually had many famous signatures but I treated them the same as every member of the public who signed and who helped us win the day, even if it took eight long years.

My book on the long lost MGM British Studios of Borehamwood will be published after many years in the next couple of months. Ironically, it stood opposite to the planned new Sky Studios, so it proves if you live long enough everything comes around. The 120-acre studio closed 50 years ago but produced such wonderful films as Ivanhoe, Inn Of The Sixth Happiness, 2001 and Where Eagles Dare, not to mention television series such as Danger Man, UFO and The Prisoner.

Now watch this link from a seasoned writer. Who made their screen debut at MGM in 1958? None other than Cliff Richard in Serious Charge. Who was in the supporting cast? None other than Jess Conrad. You cannot buy experience so enough name dropping for one week, but thank you for your patience in reading my ramblings.

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