Film & TV

TV Review – Dara O’Briain Meets Stephen Hawking

The Theory of Everything was one of the most successful films of 2014 with Eddie Redmayne winning an Oscar for his portrayal of the man in the spotlight, Stephen Hawking. This documentary delves deeper into his life where we learn about his day-to-day activities and the challenges he faces.

The host of this documentary was Dara O’Briain, a comedian, theoretical physics graduate, and, most importantly, a fantastic choice by the BBC for this meeting. However, it is clear from the first moment of meeting Hawking that there is an awkwardness present, Dara asks his first question and realizes Hawking has to move muscles in his face to produce a letter on the screen and can take up to one minute to type a single word. As the documentary progresses, the energy between the pair accelerates and Hawking even tries out some jokes on Dara to a great reception.

Dara later meets Hawking’s children, Lucy and Tim, who share their memories; some are sad (Tim being born when his father’s voice was fading) and some show the funny side of the family (the kids putting swear words into his machine and playing them). A nice surprise was to meet Stephen’s entourage which included a stylist and a technical assistant who described the process that occurs when the mobile wheelchair and computer system’s battery runs out. Lastly, Dara visits Hawking at his office in Cambridge and we see the professor’s interests; pictures of celebrities he has met, and a blackboard full of ideas and complicated equations.

There’s a scene towards the conclusion where Dara asks Stephen if he would autograph his childhood copy of Hawking’s bestselling book “A Brief History of Time”, he says yes and puts an inked fingerprint on the first page. This scene was the most powerful for me to watch as despite all the physical challenges Hawking faces, he still will not disappoint any of his followers and Dara’s face shows exactly how I felt watching this documentary… admiration for a man with a universe full of ideas.


Luke Norman

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