Returning to the University of Hertfordshire for a second visit, after its successful inaugural season last autumn, the Elstree Film Season features film and television programmes made in the 1960s at the various studios in Elstree and Borehamwood. Hosted by the Elstree Project, a film heritage initiative created by the university and Elstree Screen Heritage, each screening will be introduced by Paul Welsh, chairman of Elstree Screen Heritage and Borehamwood & Elstree Times contributor.

Village of the Damned (1960) kicks off the season on Thursday, March 14. This British sci-fi classic is the eerie tale of the blonde, glowing-eyed children born to every child-bearing woman in the small English village of Midwich, and stars George Sanders and Barbara Shelley. The exterior scenes were shot at Letchmore Heath in Radlett, and the interiors at the MGM Studio, situated on Elstree Way until 1970.

“MGM Hollywood passed on it because of the risqué content,” explains Bob Redman of Elstree Film Heritage, “the implication was that these women had got pregnant with men who weren’t their husbands or before marriage, and you can imagine how that would have gone down in 1960s America! So they passed it over to the studio in Borehamwood, where they considered it a B movie at best - and it became a cult hit.”

The season continues on Thursday, March 28 with The Devil Rides Out (1968), starring Christopher Lee as a man investigating the strange behaviour of his friend’s son, who is involved with a devil-worshipping cult. The interior shots were filmed at Elstree Studios, Shenley Road, while the exteriors were filmed at the Edgwarebury Hotel in Barnet Lane, Elstree, which has been used in a number of films.

“It was one of Christopher Lee’s favourite films out of the more than 250 that he made,” says Paul. “When I asked him which of his films he wanted mentioned on his commemorative plaque for the high street, this was the only Hammer film he picked, even though he was more famous for playing Dracula. He said he’d like to reprise this role, play the character again as an older man.

“He wanted to get away from being typecast, to move into more diverse roles and this film allowed him to do that. He got to hang up his fangs!”

The season ends with a double-bill of cult TV episodes, on Thursday, April 18 – The Avengers, which was filmed at Elstree Studios, and The Prisoner, shot at the MGM Studio. These are both full of location shots – in The Avengers episode, Something Nasty in the Nursery, keep your eyes open for shots of Rowley Lane in Arkley, west of Barnet, Rectory Lane and Shenley Hall in Shenley, north of Borehamwood, Radlett, and Shenley Road, Borehamwood’s high street.

This screening will feature extracts from interviews conducted by the students and staff of the University of Hertfordshire and Elstree Screen Heritage. June Randall from Borehamwood was a continuity girl on The Avengers.

“Patrick McNee, he could never remember anything,” she says on the film. “The Avengers was wonderful because Diana Rigg is such a laugh. She never forgets a line. A very great actress, the best I’ve ever worked with.”

“The idea is to see these 1960s productions in context,” adds Paul, “give the audience an idea of what to look out for when they’re watching. And they’re bloody good fun.”

If you have any memories of the studios in Borehamwood and Elstree from the 1960s, Paul and Bob would love to hear from you. Contact 020 8953 2903,

  • The Elstree Film Season is at the Weston Auditorium, de Havilland Campus, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield. Details: 01707 281127,