Stephen Hawking’s best screen moments

The 73-year-old professor is a showbiz veteran as well as a world-famous physicist...

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Tonight comedian Dara O Briain – who also happens to be a maths and theoretical physics graduate – interviews Professor Stephen Hawking on BBC1.

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One thing we know already is that despite being an eminent scientist respected the world over, Hawking doesn’t take himself too seriously. He’s not only educated; he’s entertained. In fact, one of our country’s most famous scientific exports has become a pop culture icon. Here are some of his greatest screen appearances – both in the flesh and as a cartoon.

The Simpsons

While many of the world’s biggest stars have voiced their delight at guest-starring in a single episode of The Simpsons, Hawking has appeared four times so far (in the episodes They Saved Lisa’s Brain, Don’t Fear The Roofer, Stop Or My Dog Will Shoot and Elementary School Musical). In his first appearance, he offers sage advice to Lisa:

“Don’t worry Lisa, sometimes even the smartest among us are the most childish”

“Even you?”

“No.”

Futurama

It’s no surprise that Futurama – a show jam-packed with nerdy jokes – features the planet’s most famous scientist. Hawking teams up with renegades such as Al Gore, and lends his voice to a ruthless version of himself who’s willing to take the credit for every scientific achievement possible.

“Are you the guy who invented gravity?” Fry asks.

“Yeah sure, why not.”

Here’s a compilation of his finest Simpsons and Futurama moments:

Little Britain

For this year’s Comic Relief, the physicist usurped Matt Lucas as David Walliams’ ostensibly wheelchair-bound friend for a one-off sketch. It showcased his comic timing, as well as the capacity to transform into a murderous mechanical robot.

Big Bang Theory

Another show, another deadpan put-down from Hawking. He appeared in the hugely popular US sitcom when super-geek Sheldon Cooper was given the chance to meet him. He promptly corrects Sheldon’s arithmetic, rendering all his research useless.

Monty Python

Last year Hawking made a surprise appearance in Monty Python’s live shows. Once again, he revealed his mischievous side as he ominously sped onto screen and bowled over Brian Cox (literally) before enthusiastically giving a rendition of The Galaxy Song.

(Skip to 2 mins 55 seconds in, or enjoy Eric Idle as a warm-up act:)

Late Night with Conan O’Brien

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In one of history’s greatest meetings of minds, Stephen Hawking rang Jim Carrey to discuss the revolutionary ekpyrotic theory of the universe on Conan O’Brien’s chat show. Truly the stuff of scientific folklore.

When Dara O Briain met Stephen Hawking: “I fluffed it the first time we talked”