|This article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2010)|
12 October 1929|
Reykjavík, Kingdom of Iceland
|Died||7 January 2007
Balmore, Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Cause of death
|Occupation||Television presenter, journalist, translator and writer|
|Known for||Mastermind presenter, translation work|
Magnus Magnusson, KBE ([ˈmaknus ˈmaknusɔn]; 12 October 1929 – 7 January 2007) was an Icelandic television presenter, journalist, translator and writer. He was born in Iceland but lived in Scotland for almost all of his life, although he never took British citizenship. He came to prominence as a BBC television journalist, and was best known as the presenter of the BBC television quiz programme Mastermind, which he hosted for 25 years.
Magnusson was born in Reykjavík but grew up in Edinburgh, where his father, Sigursteinn Magnússon, was the Icelandic consul. Under Iceland naming conventions, his name would have been Magnús Sigursteinsson (Magnús, son of Sigursteinn), but his family adopted British naming conventions and he took his father's surname. He was schooled at the Edinburgh Academy, and was in the school's marching brass band.
After graduating from Jesus College, Oxford, Magnusson became a reporter with the Scottish Daily Express and The Scotsman. He went freelance in 1967, then joined the British Broadcasting Corporation, presenting programmes on history and archaeology (including BC The Archaeology of the Bible Lands), as well as appearing in news programmes.
Magnusson presented the long-running quiz show Mastermind from 1972 to 1997. His catchphrase, which the current presenter John Humphrys has continued to use, was "I've started so I'll finish". Magnusson made a one-off cameo appearance as himself, hosting Mastermind in the children's series Dizzy Heights.
Magnusson translated a variety of books from modern Icelandic and Old Norse into English. Among these are several works by Halldór Laxness, the Nobel prize-winning novelist from Iceland, and a number of Norse sagas which he co-translated (with Hermann Pálsson) for the Penguin Classics series: Njal's Saga (1960), The Vinland Sagas (1965), King Harald's Saga (1966) and Laxdaela Saga (1969). Magnusson was also the author of a popular history of the Viking era, called The Vikings (revised edition, 2000).
Awards and charity positions
Magnusson was awarded an honorary knighthood (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in 1989. He was elected President of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, for a five-year period, at their 94th AGM in October 1995, succeeding Max Nicholson. He also became the founder chairman of Scottish Natural Heritage upon its inception in 1992.
On 12 October 2006, his 77th birthday, Magnusson was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Magnusson mordantly noted that "this has to be one of my worst birthdays ever". His condition forced him to cancel a string of public appearances. He died on 7 January 2007.
Magnus Magnusson was married to Mamie Baird, and they had five children. Their eldest son, Siggi, died in a traffic accident in 1973, when he was struck by a vehicle close to the Glasgow Academy playing fields at Anniesland, Glasgow. Their daughter Sally is a journalist,writer and TV presenter, and youngest son Jon a TV producer, writer and director.
- Viking Expansion Westwards (1973), ISBN 978-0-8098-3529-4
- The Clacken and the Slate (1974), ISBN 0-00-411170-2
- Viking, Hammer of the North (1976), ISBN 978-0-399-11744-2
- BC The Archaeology of the Bible Lands (1977), ISBN 978-0-671-24010-3
- The Vikings (1980), ISBN 978-0-7524-2699-0
- Lindisfarne, The Cradle Island (1984), ISBN 0-85362-223-X
- Chambers Biographical Dictionary (1990), as General Editor, ISBN 0-550-16040 X Hardback
- Scotland Since Prehistory: Natural Change and Human Impact (1993), ISBN 978-1-898218-03-6
- I've Started So I'll Finish (1998), ISBN 978-0-7515-2585-4
- Scotland: The Story of a Nation (2000), ISBN 978-0-00-653191-3
- Lindisfarne (2004), ISBN 978-0-7524-3227-4
- Fakers, Forgers and Phoneys: Famous Scams and Scamps (2005), ISBN 978-1-84596-190-9
- Iceland Saga (2005), ISBN 978-0-7524-3342-4
- Keeping Your Words: An Anthology of Quotations (2005), ISBN 978-0-340-86264-3
- ODNB, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2005–2008 ed. Lawrence Goldman 2013 page 740
- "Magnus Magnusson". New Statesman. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- "Entertainment | Magnusson faces cancer treatment". BBC News. 12 October 2006. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- "UK | TV's Magnus Magnusson dies at 77". BBC News. 8 January 2007. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- "UK | Obituary: Magnus Magnusson". BBC News. 7 January 2007. Retrieved 2011-11-18.
- Magnus Magnusson at the Internet Movie Database
- Obituary on the BBC website
- Magnus Magnusson Fund, Glasgow Caledonian University
- Magnus Magnusson quotations
|Rector of the University of Edinburgh
|New creation||Host of Mastermind