Magnus Magnusson

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Magnus Magnusson
Born(1929-10-12)12 October 1929
Reykjavík, Kingdom of Iceland
Died7 January 2007(2007-01-07) (aged 77)
Balmore, Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Cause of death
Pancreatic cancer
OccupationTelevision presenter, journalist, translator and writer
Known forMastermind presenter, translation work
ChildrenSally Magnusson, Anna Magnusson
 
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Magnus Magnusson
Born(1929-10-12)12 October 1929
Reykjavík, Kingdom of Iceland
Died7 January 2007(2007-01-07) (aged 77)
Balmore, Dunbartonshire, Scotland
Cause of death
Pancreatic cancer
OccupationTelevision presenter, journalist, translator and writer
Known forMastermind presenter, translation work
ChildrenSally Magnusson, Anna Magnusson

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.

Early life[edit]

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.

Career[edit]

Journalism[edit]

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.

Mastermind[edit]

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.

Translator[edit]

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[edit]

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.

He was Lord Rector of Edinburgh University from 1975 to 1978 and later, in 2002, became Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University.

Later life[edit]

In the early years of the 21st century, Magnusson also wrote for the New Statesman.[1]

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.[2][3][4]

Family[edit]

Magnus Magnusson was married to Mamie Baird. 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. Both Siggi and Jon were educated at The Glasgow Academy.

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Magnus Magnusson". New Statesman. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  2. ^ "Entertainment | Magnusson faces cancer treatment". BBC News. 2006-10-12. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  3. ^ "UK | TV's Magnus Magnusson dies at 77". BBC News. 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  4. ^ "UK | Obituary: Magnus Magnusson". BBC News. 2007-01-07. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Gordon Brown
Rector of the University of Edinburgh
1976–1979
Succeeded by
Anthony Ross
Media offices
New creationHost of Mastermind
1972–1997
Succeeded by
John Humphrys