With the death on 25 July of my uncle, Henry George Gibbings, aged 90, the TV world has lost someone very special.
George worked on a long list of well-loved programmes such as Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars, Doctor Who, The Forsyte Saga, It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Some Mothers Do Ave 'Em, Hi-De-Hi, The Good Life and Bergerac. Upon his retirement from the BBC in 1980, his sartorial trademark of a bow tie was described, in the BBC's house magazine Ariel as being as famous in television circles as Robin Day's.
He was born off Holloway Road in north London in 1920. After leaving Archway County School in 1934 he worked for Newman & Sinclair, the cine-camera makers, as a technician, alongside his two brothers, Jim (my father) and Reg. He served with the RAF during the Second World War, becoming a corporal, and being awarded 4 war and campaign medals including the Italy Star. He married his wartime sweetheart, Rose Self, in 1953, before joining the BBC the following year as a film mechanic. It was not until 1958 that he moved behind the camera.
George was highly regarded by his peers and was routinely praised for his hard work and consummate skill – often by those who were fortunate enough to appear in front of his camera, such as Bob Hope, Her Imperial Highness the Shahbanou of Iran and Lord Chalfont (always known as "Alun" to him). His work for the BBC took him around the world and included a 1968 film about Concorde for which he was praised by the producer Glyn Jones for his sheer determination to get a good job done despite lots of difficulties being put in his way by some on the other side of the channel.
Before George retired, his conscientiousness, high standards and enthusiasm were commended as invaluable to TV productions by the director-general at the time, Ian Trethowan. He was later recruited as a freelancer to help pioneer experiments in the televising of Parliament, for which the excellence of his camerawork was singled out for compliments by House of Commons representatives in 1990.
George's generosity of spirit helped subsequent generations of film-makers to achieve greater things. He was never to obtain the full designation of "film cameraman" that he once sought from BBC management. After several weeks in hospital he greeted his 90th birthday on 17 July, when we had a small bedside family party for him. He is survived by his seven nephews, including myself, our respective families and his faithful eight-year-old dog, Charlie. George's numerous bow-ties were given out as a memento to mourners at his funeral.Reuse content