Heritage centre on the cards celebrating Hertsmere’s film and television links

PUBLISHED: 10:12 22 October 2020 | UPDATED: 12:28 22 October 2020

An artist's impression of the two new soundstages which will be built on the former Big Brother house at Elstree Studios, following a successful bid from the government's Getting Building Fund. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council / Elstree Studios

An artist's impression of the two new soundstages which will be built on the former Big Brother house at Elstree Studios, following a successful bid from the government's Getting Building Fund. Picture: Hertsmere Borough Council / Elstree Studios

Hertsmere Borough Council / Elstree Studios

Following Hertsmere Council’s green light for two new soundstages to be built at Elstree Studios, the first steps have been made for a film and TV heritage centre in the borough.

Stanley Kubrick already features on a heritage trail plaque in honour of his work made at Elstree. Picture: Alan DaviesStanley Kubrick already features on a heritage trail plaque in honour of his work made at Elstree. Picture: Alan Davies

Councillors unanimously backed suggestions for a heritage hub that will celebrate Hertsmere’s long-standing association with the film industry.

A cross-party motion calling for the creation of a local group to generate plans and “ultimately the delivery of a film and television centre in Borehamwood” was brought forward by Hertsmere Borough councillors Jeremy Newmark, leader of the Labour group, and Caroline Clapper, deputy leader and portfolio holder for leisure, culture and health, at a full council meeting.

Cllr Newmark, who proposed the motion, said: “The creative arts and creative sector now more than ever needs our support.

“Hertsmere as a whole, not just Elstree and Borehamwood, has a proud history of being at the heart of the creative industry, dating back to 1913.

Hertsmere Borough Councillor Jeremy Newmark, leader of the Labour groupHertsmere Borough Councillor Jeremy Newmark, leader of the Labour group

“Today, with the development of Sky Studios Elstree, the first new studios to open in the area for many years, and the expansion of Elstree Studios, it makes sense that we take steps to recognise that heritage, build on it and harness its power to help promote local tourism and boost our local economy following the pandemic.

“We’ve already gone some way to achieving that with the agreement of a local creative arts fund through funding provided by the expansion of Elstree Studios.

“However, this motion commits the council to use its influence and authority to help ensure the long-standing and ongoing contribution to our community and the sector as a whole made by the borough’s film and TV industry is duly recognised and celebrated.”

Current TV shows such as EastEnders and Strictly Come Dancing are filmed in the borough, while Elstree is also home to Netflix’s The Crown.

Councillor Caroline ClapperCouncillor Caroline Clapper

Movies as diverse as Star Wars, A Clockwork Orange, The Hasty Heart starring Ronald Reagan, Moby Dick, The Young Ones with Cliff Richard, Frankie Howerd’s Up Pompeii, Labyrinth with David Bowie, and Superman IV: A Quest for Peace have been filmed in the area.

The motion resolved to work with key partners, including Elstree and Borehamwood Town Council, Elstree Screen Heritage, First Impressions, Elstree and Borehamwood Museum, as well as relevant local experts, historians and others, to develop plans and source funding for the creation of a centre, or potentially several ‘heritage hubs’ across the borough, which also covers Potters Bar and South Mimms.

It was backed by all councillors present at the meeting.

The proposal comes as expansion of Elstree Studios was confirmed last week following a successful bid by Hertsmere Borough Council from the government’s Getting Building Fund via Hertfordshire LEP.

Councillor Morris Bright MBE, leader of Hertsmere Borough CouncilCouncillor Morris Bright MBE, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council

The deal means two new soundstages and ancillary workshops can be built on the site of the former Big Brother house at Elstree, creating at least 800 new jobs, once the stages are operational, plus apprenticeship opportunities for local school leavers and the unemployed.

Cllr Clapper, who seconded the heritage centre motion, said: “Elstree and Borehamwood is well-known for its rich and vibrant history in film and television.

“In recent years, people have come to know our borough as home to Elstree Studios or BBC EastEnders, but in fact Hertsmere has been home to 12 studios going back more than 100 years.

“With the development of Sky Studios Elstree, and expansion of the council-owned Elstree Film Studios, the world-famous home to global film favourites Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Superman, we are seeing the return of the British Hollywood.

A heritage panel dedicated to actor Harrison Ford in Borehamwood where the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies were made at Elstree Studios. Picture: Alan DaviesA heritage panel dedicated to actor Harrison Ford in Borehamwood where the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies were made at Elstree Studios. Picture: Alan Davies

“To have a place to learn about our Elstree Film Studios, alongside all the other studios, would be a great source of pride and benefit, and would serve as a permanent reminder of our heritage.

“As a council, we’re delighted to see the support from the many groups and organisations, both in Hertsmere and across the industry, for this venture, and welcome their passion.”

The motion was also welcomed by Cllr Morris Bright MBE, leader of the council.

He added that, with the creation of Sky Studios Elstree and expansion of Elstree Studios: “We are set for the future. Let’s all work together to see if we can celebrate the past.”

Hertsmere Borough Council leader Councillor Morris Bright at Elstree StudiosHertsmere Borough Council leader Councillor Morris Bright at Elstree Studios

An aerial shot of the George Lucas Stage at Elstree StudiosAn aerial shot of the George Lucas Stage at Elstree Studios


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