Hawking - the story of Stephen Hawking's
early years told for the first time in a major drama for BBC TWO
It is 1963, and a young cosmologist celebrates his
21st birthday with a party at his home in St Albans.
The next two years are to be tumultuous, frightening
and victorious but as the party begins he has little idea of what is
in store for him.
Written by Peter Moffat - writer of the acclaimed
series Cambridge Spies and North Square - Hawking stars Benedict
Cumberbatch (Dunkirk, Spooks, Silent Witness) as the young Stephen
Hawking who, as a bright and ambitious 21-year-old PhD student at Cambridge
University, is diagnosed with the debilitating motor neurone disease
and given two years to live.
Against the odds, he goes on to achieve scientific
success and worldwide acclaim, in particular with his best-selling book
A Brief History Of Time.
Hawking producer Jessica Pope says: "Stephen's
is an heroic story of great achievement. It's about the nature of time
on both a deeply personal and a universal scale.
"At the moment when his intellect was striving
to grow to its full potential his physical self was cruelly closing
"The fact that he never spoke about it, but through
sheer force of will and personality determined to be bigger than his
illness, is inspirational."
Benedict Cumberbatch says: "I
knew very little about Stephen Hawking before starting the project other
than this person, a celebrated scientist with an iconic presence.
"I had no idea that for the first 21 years of his
life he was able bodied and lived a normal adolescence, which made the
role and Hawking the person all the more fascinating to me."
Benedict Cumberbatch's previous credits include Dunkirk
Cambridge Spies and Silent Witness.
Michael Brandon, who is currently playing Jerry
Springer in the hugely successful West End production of Jerry Springer
- The Opera, plays Arno Penzias, an American Nobel prize-winning scientist
whose work provided physical evidence to support Hawking's Big Bang
Lisa Dillon plays Hawking's first wife, Jane
Wilde, who meets the young cosmologist at a party in 1963 and is instantly
intrigued by Stephen's talk of stars and the universe.
Lisa is currently playing Desdemona in Othello at the
RSC. Her previous credits include The Master Builder and Stephen Fry's
Bright Young Things.
John Sessions - The Lost Prince, Judge John
Deed - plays Dennis Sciama, Hawking's academic supervisor and mentor
Director Philip Martin worked with Stephen Hawking on the acclaimed
series Stephen Hawking's Universe.
He says: "Stephen was at the heart of a scientific
revolution at the start of the 1960s, which has transformed the way
we think about ourselves and our place in the cosmos, we now know that
our Universe began with a big bang some 15 billion years ago.
"Yet today, even though Stephen Hawking is one
of the world's most recognisable people, few people know about his extraordinary
contribution to cosmology, or the dramatic human story that lies behind
Writer Peter Moffat adds: "Hawking is probably
the singly most challenging and rewarding experience of my working life
and the process made me completely re-shape my thinking on so many levels.
"The challenge for me was how to make that experience
thrilling and dramatic and to make it work in the form of a 90 minute
"The process was made much easier as a result of
the access I had to Professor Hawking and other scientists such as Roger
Penrose and Arno Penzias.
"I hope this film will both entertain and contribute
to a better understanding of a truly extraordinary area of science."
Philip Martin's directing credits include Stephen Hawking's
Universe, a six part series for BBC TWO on the origins of the cosmos,
presented by Stephen Hawking; Wings of Angels, a drama for BBC TWO about
God, Darwin and the Galapogos finches.
Hawking was filmed on location in Cambridge and London
and is a BBC TWO collaboration between BBC Drama and Horizon in BBC
The executive producers are Laura Mackie, Head of BBC
Drama Serials, and John Lynch, Creative Director, BBC Science.
Hawking is on BBC TWO, Tuesday 13 April 2004,