I was very sorry to read that veteran actor Albert Finney has died aged 82 after a short illness. He became a star in the swinging 1960s in British movies ­— often with a gritty storyline and in black and white ­— but later enjoyed international stardom and by the time he appeared in Annie in 1982 was earning $1,000,000 a film.

In the early 1960s Albert was extensively tested at MGM in Borehamwood for the lead role in Lawrence Of Arabia but apparently declined to sign up as the producer expected him to also sign a long term contract, which he was against. Peter O'Toole took the role and that launched him to international stardom instead.

Albert did return to MGM in 1964 to star in the screen version of Night Must Fall, although it was not a box office success. However, when he returned to Borehamwood ten years later it was to work at Elstree Studios in the all-star version of Murder On The Orient Express and gave an excellent performance as the famous detective Poirot. I am told he was actually third choice for the role behind Alec Guinness and Paul Scofield. He was to be nominated five times during his career for an Oscar but never won, which was a shame.

Albert never saw the point of the honours system and turned down a knighthood. He was not alone over the years. Apparently David Bowie, Malcolm McDowell and Robert Morley declined the honour and John Cleese refused the offer to become a Lord. Glenda Jackson and Vanessa Redgrave also declined becoming Dames.

I must say I admire people with such convictions as it is very flattering to be offered an honour from The Queen. I still remember the day in 1997 when I received a letter from 10 Downing Street saying the Prime Minister was minded to propose me for an MBE and if offered would I accept? The envelope contained a form that required you to tick yes or no. Within five minutes my affirmative reply was back in the post.

My award was for chairing the eight-year campaign that saved Elstree Studios so I am rather proud of it. Did it enhance my career or change my life? The answer is no. I have only worn the medal to two formal occasions in 22 years but recognition is always flattering.

I am ploughing on, trying to finish my book on the MGM British Studios that were located in Borehamwood until 1970. Over the decades I have interviewed many people, investigated the films and television series shot there and compiled hundreds of photographs, plans, etc to illustrate the tome. I will self-publish in order to maximise the income, which I will donate to the Borehamwood Museum and Elstree Screen Heritage. I have been very lucky over the past half a century meeting so many fascinating people from the world of television and film. I am a great believer in giving back to rewarding and worthy causes.

I hope you are all watching that great television channel called Talking Pictures, which every day screens television series and movies from yesteryear. I must contact them as they are worthy of an article. I love old 1950s British B movies full of great character actors, many of whom I have enjoyed meeting over the years. Some were local residents of Hertfordshire like Philip Madoc, Martin Benson and David Kossoff, all of whom would support my film evenings in the old days. What film was complete without Victor Maddern or Sam Kydd cropping up and what Hammer movie could justify not including Michael Ripper?

Alas, the names above are all gone now but luckily they remain with us on television.

Well, that is enough nostalgia for this week. Until we meet again, as Broderick Crawford used to say in Highway Patrol 'ten four' or Shaw Taylor on Police Five, 'keep them peeled'. That will sort out the real film and television buffs and those of you with long memories.