New Elstree (Danziger) Studios

1955 – 1962



Over many decades there have been various film studios with ‘Elstree’ in their name – right up to Sky Elstree Studios, which opened in 2022.  However, all but one of them are in Borehamwood.  The only film studio that was geographically in Elstree village was The New Elstree Studios, otherwise known as Danziger Studios. 

The site was originally a wartime aero engine testing facility.  It covered 7.5 acres and was located to the south-west of Aldenham Reservoir on the A411 Elstree Road.  Some sources state that there were 6 stages but it seems more likely there were 5.  There was also a back lot for shooting exteriors.  As to the size of the stages – Michael Klaw, who worked there, recalls them being smaller than B and C at Pinewood but larger than F and G, so probably around 8,000 sq ft.  About 200 people were employed at New Elstree in the workshops, offices and as crew members.


The owners were Edward and Harry Danziger – American TV producers who moved to the UK in 1952.  They began filming TV dramas at various studios including Riverside, Shepperton and Nettlefold.  They purchased this facility in Elstree in 1955 and within three months the first two stages were in use.  The studios officially opened in 1956.

The Danzigers were prolific in making 2nd features (‘B-movies’) and TV drama series.  Their productions were shown by the ITV companies throughout the late ‘50s and early’60s and were also sold to American TV companies, even though the stories were set in England.

They specialised in filming as quickly and cheaply as possible.  Two half-hour TV episodes were made each week and B-movies took between 5 and 10 days.  Often stock sets were used over and over again – in fact, scriptwriters were instructed to include them, whether the story required it or not.

The studios were also booked by other production companies to make various features.  Perhaps the most notable was the excellent Quatermass II, made by Hammer Films.


Their first really successful drama was The Vise (’54 – ’55) – a crime and mystery series, often with a twist in the tail.  It was introduced by Australian actor Ron Randell.  65 episodes were made – many featured a private investigator named Mark Saber, played by Donald Grey.  Later series were simply called Saber of London.

Other TV series included The Adventures of Aggie (’56 – ’57), Sailor of Fortune (’56) and The Man From Interpol (’60).

The Cheaters (’60-’62) featured an insurance investigator – 65 episodes were made and they provided employment for a large number of well-known British actors.  Some scripts were by Brian Clemens, who went on to write The Avengers for ATV.

The last series filmed here was Richard The Lionheart (’61).  There were 39 episodes and again several famous actors of the day had parts in one or more episodes.  This drama was their most expensive and was allowed a whole week to film an episode if necessary.  The final ep was completed in December 1961.

Michael Klaw worked on Richard the Lionheart and remembers this:

‘From March 1961 through to the end of October 1961 I was the 3rd Asst. on all these 39 episodes and once all the main unit shooting was over, then 2nd Asst. to director, Peter Bezencenet on all the 2nd Unit shooting.  Once this had finished, then 2nd to the 1st Asst. Frank Ernst on all of the last 5 second features that Danziger’s made and the very last of all, Number 537, was directed by Godfrey Grayson and was called ‘the Battle Axe’ (but the actual working title was ‘Breach of Promise’).  Just after that, the studios closed down!’

The main road bordered the back lot and the Aldenham bus depot was over the fence on another side, so Michael recalls that shots had to be carefully framed to avoid seeing anything untoward in the background.

The site of the studios in 2024, as seen on Google Maps.  The blue buildings are where the stages and other facilities were located.  The back lot was the field next to them, with busy roads nearby. The business park bottom right is where the bus depot used to be.


Interestingly, the Danzigers had been preparing a series called Ali Baba during 1961.  This was going to be their first drama in colour.   However, Associated Rediffusion, who had initially seemed to be interested, withdrew from the project.  Maybe this was the last straw but for whatever reason, it seems that the brothers had begun losing interest in the TV and film industry.  They moved on to take control of a high class chain of hotels.  Quite a contrast.  The studios were closed in 1962 and in 1965 became warehousing for RTZ Metals.  The buildings were later demolished and replaced by the Waterfront Business Park.

These studios produced an astonishing amount of TV drama during their relatively short life.  Various figures have been quoted but it is said to be around 400 half hour episodes.