There have been countless docs about or presented by the world’s favourite pop cosmologist, but this is the first time Professor Stephen Hawking has told his own story. It’s a remarkable tale, from his cosy liberal-academic upbringing through his early academic career and the onset of motor neurone disease to his massive, unexpected late-in-life fame. He makes for a witty, affable narrator, always ready with a dry quip (‘I won’t compare scientific discovery to sex,’ he says, ‘but it lasts longer’), and the mix of respect and fondness with which colleagues and carers approach him is infectious.
The focus is on Hawking’s scientific achievements and celebrity status at the expense of much emotional content, but it’s hardly fair to expect a warts-and-all portrait – Hawking’s first wife Jane is permitted briefly to puncture the hagiographic tone, but overall this is firmly pro-Steve (‘I was now in the company of Einstein and Darwin,’ he declares, self-effacingly). Anyone after a simple story of triumph against the odds will not be disappointed.