Filmgoer diagnoses himself with motor neurone disease after seeing Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything

Paul Whyley visited his doctor after he recognised the symptoms from the film and was told he did indeed have the same illness as Hawking

A filmgoer came to the shocking conclusion that he had motor neurone disease after watching Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything at the cinema.


Paul Whyley, 62, from Hagley in the West Midlands is now receiving treatment for the illness after doctors agreed with his self-diagnosis.

“We went to see The Theory of Everything just two weeks before my diagnosis,” Mr Whyley told the Stourbridge News. “They listed the symptoms and I thought ‘I’ve got all of them’ but I said nothing. It was a good film.”

Immediately after seeing the film in March, Mr Whyley went to visit his GP and two weeks later was told by neurologists that he had motor neurone disease.

He is now taking medication to help slow the progress of the symptoms but cannot walk unaided and requires the use of a ventilator.

“It’s a vile, evil disease,” said his wife Jayne. “We’d got a normal life – everything was fine and we were both looking forward to retirement. But this has hit us so suddenly and now I am looking after Paul 24/7 and we don’t even have a downstairs bathroom.

“They normally say people die within two to five years, but the doctors think Paul has had it for some time. It’s frightening and has come as such a shock to us.”

Relatives have started an appeal at fund-raising site Just Giving to collect money for a motorised wheelchair for Mr Whyley

Hawking was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 1963 at the age of 21 and was originally given just two years to live. Over half a century later he continues his work in theoretical physics and is one of the best known and most respected scientists in the world.


Eddie Redmayne won the best actor Oscar for his portrayal of Hawking in The Theory of Everything, which follows him through his diagnosis and gradual physical debilitation as well as his ground-breaking discoveries in physics.