I am sometimes asked why Elstree and Borehamwood can boast to have once been the Hollywood of England if not Europe. The answer is that other than Los Angeles, which includes Hollywood, nowhere else has been the base for so many studios within a couple of miles of each other and produced literally thousands of movies and television programmes.

It all started with the arrival of Neptune Studios in 1914 and that facility is still here, albeit much changed and now the BBC Elstree Centre. During its days as a film studio a whole host of stars filmed there, from Buster Keaton to George Formby. In 1960 it was expanded and converted into a television facility by ATV, which used the site for the next 23 years. Remember those Tom Jones and Julie Andrews specials, not to mention Celebrity Squares, The Golden Shot and Emergency Ward 10? The most famous production was The Muppet Show, which Lew Grade backed when it failed to find a Hollywood backer. As the Italian officer in 'Allo 'Allo! used to say "what a mistaker to maker". That series was made on the site after the BBC took over, along with Grange Hill and nowadays EastEnders and Holby City. Long may it continue.

Elstree Studios came next and historically is the most pioneering facility we have ever had, from the first talkie made in Britain to introducing Dolby sound in the 1970s and a lot more in between. It has been home to British classic movies from The Dam Busters to Summer Holiday and to Hollywood-financed productions such as the original Star Wars and Indiana Jones films. It went through very rough times from the 1970s to the 1990s but is a survivor and now flourishing once again .

British & Dominions Imperial Studios is now forgotten as it lasted only a handful of years before burning down in 1936. However, during that time it was home to early investment from Hollywood companies such as United Artists and Paramount and saw the launch of such stars as Leslie Howard and Anna Neagle, not to mention the final on screen appearance of one of Tinsel Town's most famous silent stars, the athletic smiler Douglas Fairbanks. One old American star once told me: "When I arrived in Borehamwood it was very rural, with just a small high street surrounded by farms and the studios. I was told that cafes were very small and often just looked like everyday homes. My pal and myself wanted to try an English cuppa so we walked down the high street and saw a door open so wandered in and sat at a table. The lady of the house seemed surprised when we placed our order but provided us with a nice pot of tea. When we asked for the bill she replied 'don't be silly' and so we left thinking 'that business cannot last'. Back at the studio we told our story and one of the camera crew said 'but that is private house!' We sent flowers the next day."

Another old actor told me about working at Elstree Studios in the 1930s before the days of health and safety. He recalled: "I was acting a scene on top of a three-storey fake tower. The plot required a fire at the bottom but it got out of control and started burning upwards including the escape ladder. The director bellowed through a megaphone, saying keep on acting, we can use this material and the fire brigade will soon be here! Luckily it was as the studio had its own fire engine in those days."

Over several decades I have interviewed and gathered many behind the scenes stories and sadly most of the veterans have gone. I keep thinking of doing a book but then again it would have a very small market. I will return to the other three studios I have not mentioned on another occasion.

Until we meet again down Memory Lane, I hope you are enjoying the summer. If you enjoy sharing the film and television heritage then why not visit our history trail that begins at the railway station, proceeds along the high street, which is called Shenley Road, and goes onto the old MGM Studio backlot off Elstree Way. However, if you pass the open door of a house please refrain from dropping in as you might not get a cuppa nowadays.