Where was I around this time 40 years ago? It will come as no surprise to you that I was visiting a film set at Elstree Studios, but this one has certainly stayed in my mind.

It was constructed on a large sound stage and was a replica of a Victorian street located in Whitechapel, which will give you a good clue as to the subject matter of the film, which was called Murder By Decree.

Of course it involved Jack the Ripper but this time he was paired against that most famous Victorian detective Sherlock Holmes, aided by his loyal sidekick Doctor Watson. I will not spoil the plot for you but it involves Sherlock not only fighting the infamous Ripper but an establishment cover-up.

To me this is one of the best Holmes movies ever made and Christopher Plummer as Sherlock and James Mason as Doctor Watson made a superb pairing.

The film industry was at a low in the 1970s, which meant a producer could get the cream of the crop to fill out the supporting roles and they did for this movie. David Hemmings, Sir Anthony Quayle, Frank Finlay, Sir John Gielgud and Donald Sutherland, all of whom were on excellent form.

I had a chance to chat to James Mason and he told me that he wanted to make Watson more than just a buffoon or comedy sidekick. He remarked: "I see him as a loyal ally to Holmes, bringing something worthwhile to the partnership, but the script has given us one or two comedic interchanges to relieve the tension. You have to give the audience a bit of a chance to smile in a thriller."

The street set was amazing but luckily they were also able to film outdoors in London and around the old docklands, which added to the film's realism.

Murder By Decree was directed by Bob Clark, who was unknown to me at the time. The critics liked the film and it did okay at the box office, but a few years later he helmed a totally different movie called Porky's, which was a teen sex comedy and proved to be a huge box office success. There is no accounting for taste. Sadly Bob was later killed in a car crash in America.

I prefer this film to the Jack The Ripper television series produced a decade later starring Michael Caine and the late Lewis Collins of The Professionals fame. It was very entertaining but every character seemed to spend their time shouting their dialogue at each other, which seemed over the top.

We will never know who the real Jack the Ripper was, but since the 1960s the story has produced so many theories, so many books and so many documentaries he has certainly kept a lot of people employed.

Whitechapel today is literally entirely different to the world of 1888. Gone are the cobble stones, the smog, gas lights and extreme poverty, along with the crime it produced. In Victorian times the poor police virtually had to catch you in the act of murder if you were going to be arrested. Forget today's world of forensic science to assist them. In those days they arrived at a murder scene, washed the blood away and carted off the body on a cart to the local morgue.

Of course the press had a field day, as they would now, which is why the murders have become infamous. Personally I think the Ripper was a nobody in life and probably ended up in a pauper's grave. I did do a Ripper walking tour in 1978 and they are still popular but the area has changed so much you need a vivid imagination.

You may be surprised to learn that I ended up in a pub ! It was then named after Jack but the local council forced the brewery to change the name not long after. Well I am about to mix myself a Bloody Mary so until next time take care.