Stephen Hawking lent his voice to the latest series of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in one of his last ever broadcasts.
The renowned physicist, who has died age 76, recorded a cameo for the new series of the BBC Radio 4 series in October last year.
In the opening episode Professor Hawking is revealed as The Guide Mark II. The episode was broadcast on Thursday 8th March on Radio 4 – news of Hawking’s death was confirmed in the early hours of Wednesday 14th March.
You can listen to a clip featuring Hawking here, or find the full episode on iPlayer Radio here.
In the clip, Hawking announces himself as “the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy… Mark II.” Just as Trillian try to say that he sounds awfully like a certain famous scientist, ‘the Guide’ cuts her off.
“Others knew me in different forms. I have been quite popular in my time,” he says, adding, “Some even read my books.”
Producer Dirk Maggs confirmed to RadioTimes.com that Hawking only appears in the first episode of the series, but that he was “really happy” to record his part.
“He was a sport to take part and a very distinguished Hitchhiker’s fan,” Maggs added.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: Hexagonal Phase has been created to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Douglas Adams’s classic radio series. Before the new instalments aired, fellow Hitchhiker’s producer David Morley explained how the cameo came about.
“When we were thinking of cameos for the new series I suddenly thought of Professor Stephen Hawking,” he said. “Douglas Adams’ work is admired by many of the world’s top scientists because of its innovative and hilarious twisting of the real universe, so I took a punt and asked the Professor if he’d like to actually play a role in the new series.
“It turned out that he was a huge fan of Hitchhiker’s and was keen to see the script. He very quickly came back with a resounding ‘yes’, and Dirk Maggs and I were jumping up and down with joy. His part blends perfectly with the actors. The results are fantastic.”
Meanwhile, the BBC Archive shared a clip online of Hawking’s first ever BBC TV appearance, in the 1977 documentary The Key to the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Creation.
BBC Radio 4 will be repeating Professor Hawking’s Reith Lecture entitled, ‘Do black holes have no hair?’, at 9pm this Wednesday 14th March.