They just lever out. No need to remove the seat backs. However, as I expect you know, you will need the correct headrest mounting kits and to install these you do need to remove the seat backs - unless of course you are fortunate enough to already have mounting kits in place. If the mounting kits are already present you should have a headrest adjusting screw to each seat a short distance below the top of each seat back.
thanks Andrew. I went through this a year or so ago. Ordered 2 sets of fixing kits from JRW but the ETs that I had to install were straight and wanted to hit the inside of the back panel. I decided they might have need to be cranked as the car is a coupe and they just couldn't be fitted. New purchased ones are also straight and I don't want to go through all that procedure again.
Eric, i've put the dimensions up for you but to be honest the difference it makes is negligable and anyway it was only the MK111 that had cranked stalks because of the extra thickness of the seat padding, when the p5b was introduced the stalks were straight as the seats were thinner
Thank you Velvet. I note the crank at the top allows the lamp holder. In my case, when the stalk is dropped down inside the seat, it is 40mm away from the fixing kit. Originally my upholstery man suggested perhaps the fixing kit I provided should have a spacer behind it. Perhaps there is more than one kit?
There is only 1 type of bracket for the ET headrests, as these were optional at the time so were the reading lights, thats why some have the bulkin socket, and some don't, (depended on your requirements at the time.) Nevertheless both had the provisions for the socket, remember that the plug for that socket is in the headrest with a curly wirly cable, if you dont have that socket in the bracket then you have no way of connecting the light plug to the power source without cables dangling about.
PS, cranked or straight stalk has no bearing on whether the light units can be fitted or not as the stalk is cranked to bring the headrest closer to the front of the seat and not as special clearence for the reading light.