How Stephen Hawking Left His Mark On The World Of TV and Comedy

Professor Stephen Hawking was an intellectual giant, but he also dominated popular culture with his charismatic demeanour, mind-bending space theories and impeccable sense of humour.

The much-loved physicist, cosmologist and lecturer appeared in cartoons, on sitcoms, trolled a wide range of television hosts, and was even said to to run over the toes of people he didn't like.

"Life would be tragic if it weren't funny," he told the New York Times in a 2004 interview while talking about the importance of comedy.

A cartoon version of the professor, complete with voice generator, appeared in several episodes of the Simpsons.

In "They Saved Lisa's Brain" (in which he turns up on a flying wheelchair), he can be heard saying: "Your theory of a doughnut-shaped universe is intriguing Homer. I may have to steal it."

Apparently, Prof Hawking was so proud of his cameo in the show, which he called "the best thing on American television", he kept a Homer clock on a wall in his office as memorabilia.

This also led to an appearance in Futurama, another cartoon by Simpsons' creator Matt Groening, in which he takes the credit for inventing gravity.

Along with making several cameos in The Big Bang Theory, Prof Hawking also featured in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

His character is seen playing poker with Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein. "The uncertainty principle will not help you now Stephen," Einstein tells him.

But these scripted roles were by no means his only foray into the world of entertainment.

When Ant and Dec sparked controversy after mocking him in an I'm A Celebrity skit - it later emerged that the professor took time out of his busy schedule to call them up to say he had found it funny.

Prof Hawking, who kept a mocked-up photo of himself on a date with Marilyn Munroe in his office, was also booked to perform at Glastonbury in 2015 (but had to pull out for "personal reasons").

And in various interviews throughout the years, the world-renowned British physicist can be heard offering up witty-as-fuck responses to questions about religion, life and celebrity culture.

Talking about being diagnosed with motor neurone disease with the New York Times, he said: "My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus".

On the subject of fame, in a 2006 interview on Israeli TV, he said: "The downside of my celebrity is that I cannot go anywhere in the world without being recognised.

"It's not enough for me to wear dark sunglasses and a wig. The wheelchair gives me away".

In another interview with British presenter Piers Morgan, on the issue of intellectual showboating, he said: "People who boast about their IQ are losers".

Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for his role portraying the scientists as a young man in The Theory Of Everything, insists Prof Hawking is "the funniest man I have ever had the pleasure to meet."

"He has a real force of charisma and humour and incisive wit and a sense of mischief".

Writer and photographer from South London, UK. If you want to get in touch please email me at: matthew.kirby@konbini.com