It’s Sitcom Heaven for TV stars and comedy fans at Elstree Studios

PUBLISHED: 17:28 06 July 2016 | UPDATED: 12:13 07 July 2016

Comedy stars Nicolas Bond Owen, Norman Eshley, Sally Thomsett and David Barry with Elstree Studios chairman Morris Bright at Sitcom Heaven

Comedy stars Nicolas Bond Owen, Norman Eshley, Sally Thomsett and David Barry with Elstree Studios chairman Morris Bright at Sitcom Heaven

Archant

Sitcom stars of the 60s and 70s were reunited back at the film studios in Hertsmere where they made their name.

About Elstree Studios

• Elstree Studios is regarded as the number one film and television studio in London and the East of England.

• Major television shows produced at the Hertsmere Borough Council owned studios include Big Brother for Channel 5 and Strictly Come Dancing for BBC.

• Feature films shot at Elstree in Borehamwood include as The Danish Girl starring Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, Paddington starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Bonneville, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows starring Jude Law and Robert Downey Jnr, The World’s End featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, World War Z starring Brad Pitt, and the multi-award-winning The King’s Speech starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter.

• Internationally famous acts such as Robbie Williams, Kylie, Rihanna, Coldplay, Take That and One Direction have used the huge George Lucas Stage for tour rehearsals.

• For more information, visit www.elstreestudios.co.uk

As part of Elstree’s 90th year of celebrations, the best of British big screen versions of hit small screen comedies came together at the studios where they were filmed for a weekend of Sitcom Heaven.

The day started off with a locations bus tour in tribute to On the Buses.

All three On the Buses films were made at Elstree Studios.

The first On the Buses movie was the highest grossing picture in the country in 1971, beating James Bond outing Diamonds Are Forever.

Made for just £88,000, it grossed £1million in its first six weeks of release.

Elstree film historian Paul Welsh took to the stage for a Q&A session with a host of names including EastEnders’ actress Anna Karen, who played Olive in On the Buses, and John Lyons, from A Touch of Frost.

The packed house of almost 200 guests watched exclusive and previously unseen interviews with the show’s late stars Reg Varney – who would have been 100 this month – and Stephen Lewis.

Reg played chirpy bus driver Stan Butler in the 1970s sitcom, while Stephen Lewis was long-suffering bus inspector Blakey.

The evening saw a tribute to comedies Man About the House and George & Mildred, with reminiscences and tributes to the late Yootha Joyce, who died aged just 53 after the film was made at Elstree in 1979.

Reunited on stage were Sally Thomsett, Jo in Man About the House and one of The Railway Children, Norman Eshley, who appeared in both Man About the House and in George & Mildred as Jeffrey Fourmile, and Nicholas Bond Owen, the young son Tristram, along with David Barry, of Please Sir, The Fenn Street Gang and George & Mildred film fame.

Their Q&A was conducted by Elstree Studios chairman and Hertsmere borough council leader Morris Bright, who reminded the guests that all the shows regularly received audiences of between 15 and 20 million viewers a week.

Both sessions included an auction of Elstree-related comedy memorabilia.

Speaking after the event, Morris Bright said: “It was wonderful to welcome so many familiar names of the past back to Elstree where the cinema versions of these big TV comedies were made, to reunite some of the actors and hear how much fun they had working on some of the great laughter making shows of the 1970s.”

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Welwyn Hatfield Times