Told for the first time in Hawking’s own words and with unique access to his home and public life, this is a personal journey through Hawking’s world. The audience joins him at home, under the care of his nursing team; in San Jose as he “wows” a packed theatre audience; in Silicon Valley as he meets a team of technicians who hope to speed up his communication system; and as he throws a party for family and friends. HAWKING also carefully tells Hawking’s life journey, from boyhood under-achiever to PhD genius, and from a healthy cox on the Oxford rowing team to diagnosis of motor neuron disease, given just two years to live — yet surviving several close brushes with death. The film also highlights his greatest scientific discoveries and plots his rise to fame and superstardom.
Wednesday, January 29 at 9pm
HAWKING tracks the physicist’s life story, told largely in his own words. It includes dramatic accounts of his life from childhood through university; intimate footage of Hawking today, including his home routine and his work life at the University of Cambridge; archival footage; and candid comments from family members, friends and colleagues. Computer-generated imagery illustrates some of Hawking’s remarkable discoveries, such as the nature of black holes and the so-called “Big Bang” theory that explains the origins of the universe.
“This film is a personal journey through my life, told in my own words, that shows the story of how I became who I am today. It has been a lot of fun and also very strange to see myself depicted in so many ways,” said Hawking. “I think it is important to realize we only have a very short time alive and should make the best of it. Despite my disabilities, I will always keep wondering about the mysteries of the universe.”
In addition to photos and archival footage of his childhood, the film also depicts the difficult aspects of his life, especially his battle to communicate through his computer, a process about which he meets regularly with technology experts. In addition to the A-list contributors who are also his fans, interviewees include Hawking’s ex-wife Jane, past and current students and graduate assistants, nurses and his literary agent, among others.
Stephen Hawking became paralyzed due to motor neuron disease, but his intellectual brilliance, his refusal to quit and his trademark dry wit — all showcased in HAWKING — have propelled him to international fame and celebrity. He has sold more than 10 million copies of his groundbreaking book A Brief History of Time, spoken before thousands of people at sell-out live shows and appeared on iconic TV shows such as “The Simpsons” and “Star Trek.” He counts as friends many of the most famous people on the planet. He has met with the pope, experienced zero gravity, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and much more.
“We are thrilled to bring this exclusive program about Stephen Hawking to PBS as part of our science and natural history Wednesday night programming,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “HAWKING opens up a new window into his life and achievements as never before and we’re proud to be a co-producer of this film.”
“Through Hawking’s own words, as well as those closest to him, PBS viewers have an opportunity to get a fresh perspective on one of the greatest scientists of our time,” added Ben Bowie, Executive Producer. “We are honored to have had the opportunity to film and capture the most intimate details of Stephen Hawking’s life.”