Posted: May 11th, 2010
By Ray Setterfield
Vic rose to become deputy editor of the Sunday Mirror. But it is not titles that matter, the fact is that Vic was one of the great Fleet Street subs and possibly the best that I have encountered.
When I joined the Sunday Mirror in the late Seventies, the subbing team was spearheaded by night editor Vic Birkin, chief sub Malcolm Munro-Hall (Big Mal) and deputy Dennis Edensor. What a formidable trio of talent.
All three worked hard, played hard and gave their all for the paper. Vic, in particular, was constantly fizzing with energy and ideas. Sure, he could be tetchy if things were not of the high standard that he demanded. But I have seen him tear into a sub mercilessly for mishandling a story, then hours later in the Stab be the first to put his arm round the offender’s shoulder, buy him a pint and share a joke.
Even accepting that dour David Montgomery was a regular Friday night casual sub, these days on the Sunday Mirror, then edited by the idiosyncratic Bob Edwards (Brillo), and fired by the inspiring production team of Birkin, Munro-Hall and Edensor, were highly enjoyable, frequently demanding, sometimes exhausting, but never dull.
And Birkin – cricket-lover, Elvis fan, wordsmith, supersub -played a major part in it all. “This,” he would often boast proudly,” is a subs’ paper.”
It was a privilege to be a part of it and I learned a lot. Thanks for everything, Vic.