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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 May, 2004, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Magnusson recovers from surgery
Magnus Magnusson
Magnusson hosted Mastermind for 25 years
Former Mastermind host Magnus Magnusson is recovering from emergency abdominal surgery after he became seriously ill last week.

The 74-year-old, who was admitted to Glasgow's Western Infirmary, is now considered to be in a stable condition.

"Magnus Magnusson was taken seriously ill on Tuesday May 4. He underwent emergency abdominal surgery," said his family in a statement.

Magnusson was born in Iceland but now lives in Balmore, Dunbartonshire.

Magnusson is most famous for his catchphrase "I've started so I'll finish" on the BBC Mastermind quiz show which he presented for 25 years.

The original series began in 1972 and recorded peak audience figures of about 22 million at the height of its popularity.

Contestants faced an intimidating atmosphere in the studio as they sat on the now famous black leather chair to answer questions on a specialist subject of their choice and general knowledge.

Mastermind chair
Magnusson kept the original chair after his final show in 1997

Magnusson moved to Scotland at an early age and went on to study English at Jesus College, Oxford, before beginning his journalistic career at the Scottish Daily Express and then The Scotsman.

He was awarded an honorary knighthood in 1989 and is currently Chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian University.

Dr Ian Johnston, principal of Glasgow Caledonian University, said the University wished him well.

"We are very sorry to hear of the Chancellor's illness. Magnus has worked very hard since his installation in 2002 and is very popular with both staff and students. We wish him a full and speedy recovery."

Mastermind returned to the BBC last autumn after a six-year absence, this time hosted by BBC Radio 4's Today programme presenter John Humphrys.

But the original black leather chair in which contestants sat had to be replaced - it was claimed by Magnusson after the final recording at St. Magnus Cathedral, Orkney in 1997.

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