Hello playmates, we have held onto the wreckage for another week and it is time for another stroll down Memory Lane. Of course my first love will always be Elstree Studios but without doubt in second place is the old massive MGM Studios that once stood a few hundred yards away in Borehamwood.

This week I look back to what was filming at MGM in 1965 and it was a varied bunch of movies. One was shot in just 17 days and was called Cuckoo Patrol, starring Kenneth Connor, John LeMesurer plus Freddie and the Dreamers. Also at the studio was Frank Ifield, still alive and well in Australia, making Up Jumped A Swagman on a similar bargain basement budget.

The Liquidator was a spy thriller starring Trevor Howard and Rod Taylor. In the 1970s I was having a drink with Trevor at the Gate pub in Arkley and he told me Taylor was unpopular on set as he had 'gone Hollywood' and arrived with a large entourage. I have our conversation on cassette tape somewhere as I used to record my interviews in those days. I have other taped interviews with Dinah Sheridan, Peter Cushing, Gary Kurtz, Edward Woodward, Donald Pleasance and others. I have never listened to them since but would make an interesting compilation.

Where The Spies Are starred David Niven, who made several movies in Borehamwood. The plot required a jet aircraft to crash on a frozen lake, which was recreated using foam snow on the studio backlot. Alas, just before filming began, it snowed for real overnight, leaving a dirty yellow foam around the aircraft and pristine snow everywhere else.

David was back again to film The Eye Of The Devil, which proved to be a cursed production if you believe in such things. After most of the filming had been completed the leading lady Kim Novak fell off a horse and could not continue. With the help of a £600,000 insurance payout they had to start again with Deborah Kerr as the replacement. One of the supporting cast was Dame Flora Robson, who told me: "We used a real Roman Catholic church to shoot one scene with Donald Pleasence playing a priest. The real priest gave permission but without reading the script. He visited the filming and rebuked Donald for saying the wrong words to Mass. He did not realise Donald's character was saying a demonic mass!"

Tragically, the film's young female lead was Sharon Tate, who not long after was brutally murdered whilst heavily pregnant in her Hollywood home. I am sure you will have heard of Charles Manson and the awful killings.

Another film that went into production was Return To The Ashes, starring Maximilian Schell. It should have co-starred Gina Lollobrigida but she walked off the film due to a reported row about her salary. The director was unhappy as the low budget stopped him shooting as planned in Paris and he had to make do with utilising the standing street sets on the backlot. The film flopped at the box office.

MGM was a lovely studio, which is why it was such a bittersweet time when I was given three days to visit the 115-acre site when it closed in 1970. I will not bore you again with that experience as I think I wrote about it not that long ago. Now there are plans going ahead for the massive new Sky Studios just a few yards away. As they say, if you live long enough everything comes around again.

Meanwhile I wish it would warm up again so we can cast off our long johns and once again I can get the chalk out and play hopscotch with my neighbours as I am past putting my car keys into a dish. Mind you with my knees nowadays hopscotch or kiss chase may prove a leap too far. Methinks a trip to the garden centre will be more fun, so until next time hang onto the wreckage.

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