Suuret suomalaiset (Great Finns) was a 2004 television show broadcast in Finland by YLE (the Finnish Broadcasting Company), which determined the 100 greatest Finns of all time according to the opinions of its viewers. The viewers were able to vote during a programme which lasted from October to December 2004. The show was a Finnish spin-off of the BBC's programme Great Britons.
During the final stage of voting, people had the chance to vote for the following three leading candidates: Risto Ryti, C.G.E. Mannerheim and Urho Kekkonen. The winner was baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, a war hero, Marshal of Finland, and former president.
- C.G.E. Mannerheim (President of Finland, 1944–1946, and Marshal of Finland)
- Risto Ryti (President of Finland, 1940–1944)
- Urho Kekkonen (President of Finland, 1956–1981)
- Adolf Ehrnrooth (infantry general, a figurehead for the Finnish veteran community)
- Tarja Halonen (First female President of Finland, 2000–2012 )
- Arvo Ylppö (famed paediatrician)
- Mikael Agricola (Protestant reformer and creator of literary Finnish)
- Jean Sibelius (world-famous composer of romantic music)
- Aleksis Kivi (author of the first significant Finnish novel, Seitsemän veljestä / Seven Brothers)
- Elias Lönnrot (collector of the Finnish national epic Kalevala)
Humoristic voting and speculation on manipulated results
Everybody in the top ten can be regarded as "serious" candidates, but right after those first ten are a number of candidates that have probably been selected in a more humorous sense. Positions 11-14 are held by:
- Position 11, Matti Nykänen – A four-time Olympic gold medalist who is also known for his later ill-fated careers as a singer and a stripper. He is a person loved dearly by the Finnish sensationalist press. Most of his scandals are caused by his aggressive behavior while drunk.
- Position 12, Väinö Myllyrinne – The tallest Finnish person ever. In the Finnish language, the words "great", "tall" and "big" can all be expressed with the word "suuri", which is used in the name of the program. Thus, voting for Myllyrinne was a kind of joke. Some people circulated messages on the Internet that urged people to vote for Myllyrinne.
- Position 13, Ville Valo – The vocalist of the famous Finnish alternative rock band HIM.
- Position 14, Lalli – A mythical and possibly non-historical figure who, according to a medieval legend, killed the Swedish Bishop Henry in Finland in 1156.
After the results were published, lots of speculation started on the issue of whether YLE had manipulated the results in order to keep humoristic candidates out of the top ten. YLE has condemned the accusations but has refused to publish the number of votes that candidates below top ten received.
The person most conspicuously not appearing on the list is the international diplomat and former President of Finland Martti Ahtisaari, who has been a perennial favourite in Finland for the Nobel Peace Prize, and was finally awarded it in 2008.
In broadcast order:
- Jari Tervo, author, humorist and TV personality from the show Uutisvuoto (Have I Got News For You); for Arvo Ylppö
- Paula Lehtomäki, current Minister for Foreign Trade and Development (Kesk.); for Urho Kekkonen
- Pirkko Saisio, Finlandia-winning author; for Mikael Agricola
- Kaari Utrio, author and feminist; for Tarja Halonen
- Jukka Virtanen, author, director and actor; for Aleksis Kivi
- Lasse Lehtinen, author, Member of the European Parliament (PES); for Risto Ryti
- Sari Kaasinen, musician in the traditional music band Värttinä; for Elias Lönnrot
- Arto Nyberg, journalist, TV personality, host of the talk show Arto Nyberg; for Adolf Ehrnrooth
- Pekka Kuusisto, musician, composer, prize-winning violin player; for Jean Sibelius
- Riitta Uosukainen, veteran politician (Kok.), first female Speaker of the Parliament of Finland; for C. G. E. Mannerheim