Monday 25 September 2017

Elstree Studios 90th Birthday Celebrations

Last night, I was honoured to attend a very special occasion. Normally, we stick to Barnet events, but we made an exception last night for two very good reasons.The first is that it's on the doorstep and the second was that my good lady's band, The BBC Elstree Concert Band were performing!

The event was the final night of celebrations for the 90th Birthday of Elstree studios. The event consisted of two halves. The first half had screenings of classic footage of '60's and '70's TV series made at Elstree. including The Saint, The Avengers and Jason King. A whole slate of celebs turned out, most notably Guest of Honour Diana Rigg, and some great film memorabila including Simon Templar's car!. Here are a selection of tweets which give a good flavour of the night.

The Q&A sessions were great. A good selection of anecdotes, not all of which are suitable for a family blog such as this! Dame Diana Rigg looked great. I was fascinated to learn that the reason that Patrick McNee's female sidekicks were so "macho" was not due to a forward looking, feminist agenda, it was just because they originally had a bloke lined up and they couldn't be bothered to rewrite the scripts!

There was also a tribute to Roger Moore. He was always my favourite Bond and he used to live at the top of my road. He also has a very cool Christian name and us Roger's do stick together! The footage from the Saint was great, as was the short, previously unseen interview footage. There were some  very affectionate anecdotes. It was pretty clear just how well liked Roger was.

The second half of the show, had the BBC Elstree band playing a selection of well known TV and Film theme tunes, including The Avengers, The Third Man and Superman. Paul Walsh OBE, a local film historian and campaigner MC'd this section of the show. Paul had been enjoying the hospitality and gave a very down to earth intro of the various tunes, recalling various incidents such as Christopher Reeve, as Superman, dangling in clear view from Shenley Road from a crane. One suspects that Superman IV was not Paul's favourite film from the Period. He spoke rather more affectionately about "Murder on the Orient Express" which had a stellar cast. He also observed that the On The Buses films had made huge profits on tiny budgets.

Paul also observed that back in the 1960's and 1970's TV companies were prepared to take risks when commissioning productions and spend money on decent musical scores as so well demonstrated by the great tunes the band belted out!

Elstree studios are a gem. It was the first time I'd actually been back there since my acting career finished in 1970, apart from once when I accompanied my Dad to drop off a car he'd resprayed for a production. As it was being used in a film, he'd put his best sprayer on it and instructed him to give it a Rolls Royce finish. I can't remember what the film was but we got free tickets and he was horrified to see that all the hard work resulted in 15 seconds on screen and then the car crashing and blowing up. I look forward to the 100 years celebration in 2027.

Hopefully there will be some great output between now and then. Great Britain has amazing creative industries. We need to protect and preserve them. It was an honour to share in there celebrations!

1 comment:

CalvinCasino said...

Happy 90th birthday to Estree studios.