12 October 1929
|Died||7 January 2007 77) (aged|
|Alma mater||Jesus College, Oxford|
|Known for||Mastermind presenter, translation work|
|Children||5, including Sally and Jon|
Magnus Magnusson, KBE ( [ˈmaknus ˈmaknusɔn] ; born Magnús Sigursteinsson; 12 October 1929 – 7 January 2007) was an Icelandic-born British-based journalist, translator, writer, and television presenter. Born in Reykjavík, he lived in Scotland for almost all his life, although he never took British citizenship. He came to prominence as a BBC television journalist and was the presenter of the BBC television quiz programme Mastermind for 25 years. His catchphrase "I've started so I'll finish" was said whenever the time ran out while he was reading a question on the show.
Magnús Sigursteinsson was born in Reykjavík on 12 October 1929, but grew up in Edinburgh, where his father, Sigursteinn Magnússon, was the Icelandic consul. In Scotland his family adopted a British naming convention, and from childhood, Magnus used his father's patronymic as a surname.
Magnusson lived with his family in John Street, Joppa, an eastern suburb of Edinburgh. He was educated 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 . Between 1962 and 1964 he edited the Saltire Society's magazine, New Saltire.He went freelance in 1967, then joined the BBC, presenting programmes on history and archaeology (including Chronicle and 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 on BBC1. His catchphrase, which one of his successors John Humphrys continued to use, was "I've started so I'll finish". Magnusson made cameo appearances as himself, hosting Mastermind in Morecambe and Wise as well as the children's series Dizzy Heights and as Magnus Magnesium in The Goodies episode "Frankenfido".
Magnusson ended his 25-year run of hosting Mastermind in September 1997, and the original black chair was given to him at the end of the production, passing to his daughter Sally Magnusson after his death.
Magnusson later returned to present a one-off celebrity special, originally broadcast on 30 December 2002, on BBC Two to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first ever Mastermind final.This was a precursor to the main show returning to the BBC with a new host, John Humphrys. The first series of the main show hosted by Humphrys began on BBC Two on 7 July 2003. Following the one-off special, Celebrity Mastermind began airing as a full series also hosted by Humphrys. The celebrity version of the show has continued every year since, alongside the main show. Shortly before his death, Magnusson returned to the regular Mastermind series in order to present the trophy to the 2006 champion Geoff Thomas. His daughter Sally Magnusson presented the trophy to the next series winner, David Clark, while also paying tribute to her father and his legacy to the show.
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 as well as 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). In 1968 he appeared as a storyteller in five episodes of the BBC children's programme Jackanory , narrating English translations of 'Stories from Iceland'. Magnusson was also the author of a popular history of the Viking Age, called The Vikings (revised edition, 2000).
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. The Magnus Magnusson Fellowship, an intellectual group based at the Glasgow Caledonian University, was named in his honour.
In later years, Magnusson also wrote for the New Statesman.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. The Aigas Field Centre has a building named the Magnus House in his honour.
Magnusson was married to Mamie Baird from 1954 until his death.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.
The Viking Age was the period during the Middle Ages when Norsemen known as Vikings undertook large-scale raiding, colonizing, conquest, and trading throughout Europe, and reached North America. It followed the Migration Period and the Germanic Iron Age. The Viking Age applies not only to their homeland of Scandinavia, but to any place significantly settled by Scandinavians during the period. The Scandinavians of the Viking Age are often referred to as Vikings as well as Norsemen, although few of them were Vikings in the technical sense.
The Orkneyinga saga is a narrative of the history of the Orkney and Shetland islands and their relationship with other local polities, particularly Norway and Scotland. The saga has "no parallel in the social and literary record of Scotland" and is "the only medieval chronicle to have Orkney as the central place of action". The main focus of the work is the line of jarls who ruled the Earldom of Orkney, which constituted the Norðreyjar or Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland and there are frequent references to both archipelagoes throughout.
Saint Magnus Erlendsson, Earl of Orkney, sometimes known as Magnus the Martyr, was Earl of Orkney from 1106 to about 1115.
Gudrid Thorbjarnardóttir she was an Icelandic explorer, born at Laugarbrekka in Snæfellsnes, Iceland.
Scottish Opera is the national opera company of Scotland, and one of the five national performing arts companies of Scotland. Founded in 1962 and based in Glasgow, it is the largest performing arts organisation in Scotland.
The Earl of Orkney was originally a Norse jarl ruling the archipelagos of Orkney and Shetland (Norðreyjar). Originally founded by Norse invaders, the status of the rulers of the Norðreyjar as Norwegian vassals was formalised in 1195. Although the Old Norse term jarl is etymologically related to "earl", and the jarls were succeeded by earls in the late 15th century, a Norwegian jarl is not the same thing. In the Norse context the distinction between jarls and kings did not become significant until the late 11th century and the early jarls would therefore have had considerable independence of action until that time. The position of Jarl of Orkney was eventually the most senior rank in mediaeval Norway except for the king himself.
Desmond John Humphrys is a Welsh broadcaster. From 1981 to 1987 he was the main presenter for the Nine O'Clock News, the flagship BBC News television programme, and from 1987 until 2019 he presented on the BBC Radio 4 breakfast programme Today. He was the host of the BBC Two television quiz show Mastermind from 2003 to 2021, for a total of 735 episodes.
Glasgow Caledonian University, informally GCU, Caledonian or Caley, is a public university in Glasgow, Scotland. It was formed in 1993 by the merger of The Queen's College, Glasgow and Glasgow Polytechnic.
The Battle of Largs was a battle between the kingdoms of Norway and Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde near Largs, Scotland. Through it Scotland achieved the end of 500 years of Norse Viking depredations and invasions despite being tremendously outnumbered, without a one-sided military victory in the ensuing battle. The victory caused the complete retreat of Norwegian forces from western Scotland and the realm entered a period of prosperity for almost 40 years. The tactical decision at Largs thus led to a sweeping strategic victory that ended in Scotland purchasing the Hebrides Islands and the Isle of Mann in the Treaty of Perth, 1266. Victory was achieved with a crafty three-tiered strategy on the part of the young Scottish king, Alexander III: plodding diplomacy forced the campaign to bad weather months and a ferocious storm ravaged the Norwegian fleet, stripping it of many vessels and supplies and making the forces on the Scottish coast vulnerable to an attack that forced the Norwegians into a hasty retreat that was to end their 500-year history of invasion and leave Scotland to consolidate its resources into building the nation. The conflict formed part of the Norwegian expedition against Scotland in 1263, in which Haakon Haakonsson, King of Norway attempted to reassert Norwegian sovereignty over the western seaboard of Scotland.
Thorvald Eiriksson was the son of Erik the Red and brother of Leif Erikson. The only Medieval Period source material available regarding Thorvald Eiriksson are the two Vinland sagas; the Greenland Saga and the Saga of Erik the Red. Although differing in various detail, according to both sagas Thorvald was part of an expedition for the exploration of Vinland and became the first European to die in North America.
Sally Magnusson, is a Scottish broadcaster and writer. She is the presenter of Reporting Scotland for BBC Scotland as well as Tracing Your Roots on BBC Radio 4 and was one of the main presenters of the long-running religious television programme Songs of Praise.
Sir Alexander Drummond Gibson was a Scottish conductor and opera intendant. He was also well known for his service to the BBC and his achievements during his reign as the longest serving principal conductor of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra in which the orchestra was awarded its Royal Patronage
The Vinland Sagas are two Icelandic texts written independently of each other in the early 13th century—The Saga of the Greenlanders and The Saga of Erik the Red,. The sagas were written down between 1220 and 1280, much later than the initial time of action 970–1030.
The Earldom of Orkney is the official status of the Orkney Islands. It was originally a Norse feudal dignity in Scotland which had its origins from the Viking period. In the ninth and tenth centuries it covered more than the Northern Isles (Norðreyjar) and included Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, and Sutherland. The ruling position of Jarl or Earl of Orkney was heritable.
Old Norse literature refers to the vernacular literature of the Scandinavian peoples up to c. 1350. It chiefly consists of Icelandic writings.
Thorstein the Red or Thorstein Olafsson was a viking chieftain who flourished in late ninth-century Scotland.
The Scottish–Norwegian War was a conflict from 1262 to 1266. The conflict arose because of disagreement over the ownership of the Hebrides. The war contained mainly skirmishes and feuds between the kings, and the only major battle was the indecisive Battle of Largs.
Prehistoric Shetland refers to the prehistoric period of the Shetland archipelago of Scotland, when it was first occupied by humans. The period prior to human settlement in Shetland is known as the geology of Scotland. Prehistory in Shetland does not end until the beginning of the the Early Medieval Period in Scotland, around AD 600. More than 5,000 archaeological sites have been recorded in the Shetland Islands.
Oistin mac Amlaíb was a ninth-century Norse or Norse-Gael leader who is sometimes identified as a King of Dublin. He was a son of Amlaíb Conung and nephew of Ímar, founder of the Uí Ímair dynasty. He is sometimes identified with Thorstein the Red, a figure who features in the Norse sagas.
Mamie Ian Magnusson was a pioneering Scottish newspaper journalist and author.