Sunderland graduate hosts Icelandic Eurovision competition

Written by on 23rd February 2023

A University of Sunderland graduate and former Spark volunteer is hosting Iceland’s national selection event for Eurovision 2023. 

Siggi Gunnars presenting Söngvakeppnin | Image credit – RÚV

Sigurður Þorri Gunnarsson – also known as Siggi Gunnars – is one of three hosts of Söngvakeppnin, Iceland’s television show that is used to select the country’s Eurovision representative each year. 

Gunnars said: “It is an honour to have the opportunity to host Iceland’s biggest TV show, Söngvakeppnin. 

“It is not only our preselection for Eurovision, it is also the country’s biggest party with all kinds of entertainment and interviews.

“This is a job I have been preparing for since I was a young boy – not only because I’m a Eurovision enthusiast, but also because I’ve always been interested in big productions like this.” 

Gunnars completed his MA in Radio at the University of Sunderland between 2012 and 2013, and during this time volunteered for the student and community radio station Spark, presenting the weekend breakfast show. 

Söngvakeppnin is organised by Iceland’s national public service broadcaster, RÚV, where Gunnars now works  as a presenter on one of the network’s flagship stations, Radio 2. 

Siggi Gunnars and fellow Söngvakeppnin host Unnsteinn Manuel | Image credit – RÚV

Gunnars is no stranger to Eurovision. Earlier this year he appeared in Norway’s Eurovision selection competition, Melodi Grand Prix, to announce the points awarded by Iceland’s national jury. 

“Eurovision means so much to me,” he said. 

“I have been drawn to it since I was about 10 years old, partly because of the music and TV production and also because it has always been a safe bubble for my community, the LGBTQ+ community.” 

Gunnars isn’t the only North East representation at this year’s edition of Söngvakeppnin. Newcastle-born Lee Proud is the director and choreographer of the event and has worked with Iceland’s Eurovision delegation for a number of years. 

Proud said: “It’s phenomenal to see talent nurtured in the North East flourishing.

“Siggi is extremely impressive as a TV presenter. This is our first Eurovision together and I’m asking a lot of the hosts this year in terms of fun choreography and stuff they don’t normally do. 

“It’s marvellous to work alongside someone who is clearly a fan of the genre and understands the crazy nuances of the competition as a whole.” 

The final of Söngvakeppnin takes place on March 4. 

This year’s Eurovision Song Contest will be held in Liverpool in May.

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