Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997
The British Broadcasting Corporation
web site is:

Vic Howett

Return to Deaths page

Written by Clive Rickerby

Communications Engineer

Vic Howett died after a long illness in June 2013, aged 83. Vic was born in Fulham, but later moved to South Harrow and was educated at Pinner County School followed by North London Polytechnic. After his National Service in the RAF including a posting to Libya, Vic joined the BBC In 1956. Working in Lines Department’s Television Switching Centre he was responsible for monitoring circuits to ensure the technical quality of programme transmission between studios and transmitters. In 1967 he moved to the newly formed Communications Department HQTV section where he specialised in the equalisation of video circuits countrywide, ensuring that programmes were transmitted to the best BBC standard.

In 1970 he was seconded to the EBU to work in the telecoms tower in Mexico City for the World Cup, where he avoided the local Mexican food and insisted upon drinking tea regularly. Later Vic was responsible for equalising the video circuits to the Greenwood Theatre for the new “Question Time” programme. Colleagues regarded Vic to be “King of the Fairy Fingers Box” as he was expert in the art of building fixed video equalisers from preferred value components, with the aid of that special Fairy Fingers box to correct the waveform and a complex set of tables. In the 80s he was involved in the trials of digital television circuits such as the 140mb/s experimental circuit between London and Birmingham which sometimes carried BBC1 and BBC2. Vic assisted with the setting up of equipment for East Enders at BBC’s Elstree Studios in 1984/5, which was his final project at the BBC.

Vic can claim a notable “victory” when he managed to persuade Frank Rice (a lover of fresh air) to use the hood on the Sunbeam Rapier convertible that was Frank’s pride and joy. Nobody else ever managed that!

He was a keen member of the BBC Cricket Club, following his retirement in 1985 and subsequent move to Somerset he joined Chard Tennis Club and enjoyed visits to watch county cricket at Taunton. Vic became a key member of the “G28 Luncheon Club” for retired Lines Department staff. Vic had a wide range of interests, including canal restorations, aeroplane ejector seats, seed selection for plants, genealogy and local history.

Vic will be remembered as a quiet and friendly colleague who did not create waves but just got on with the job in hand. Vic had a sense of humour and he was much more prone to laugh than frown which lightened the atmosphere wherever he went.

Vic is survived by his wife Gill and son Nic.

November 2013


Return to Deaths page