New documentary reveals Stephen Hawking’s painful personal life

WE all know Stephen Hawking as a scientific genius but a new Sky documentary has taken a more personal look at the professor’s private life.

Sky Original documentary Hawking: Can You Hear Me? will be avaliable to stream from September 17 and includes insights into Hawking’s marriages and divorces.


This never-seen-before family photograph features Professor Stephen Hawking with his then wife  Jane, son Robert and daughter Lucy on their California estate in 1974Credit: Hawking Estate
Hawking's second marriage to Elaine Mason was shrouded by controversy when she was investigated over abuse allegations


Hawking’s second marriage to Elaine Mason was shrouded by controversy when she was investigated over abuse allegationsCredit: Reuters

Producer Anthony Geffen said: “After more than five years collaborating with the late Stephen Hawking, and his close family and friends, and with exclusive access to their family archive, we have finally been able to tell his extraordinary story from the inside, by the people who really knew him.”

Hawking’s children Robert, Lucy and Tim all appear in the documentary as well as the professor’s first wife Jane.

Notably absent from the 90 minute piece is Hawking’s second wife who was married to him for 11 years.

Elaine Mason was asked to tell her side of the story but is said to have declined to comment.

The documentary touches on how Mason was repeatedly accused of “physically and emotionally” abusing him.

It discusses how a number of people came forward claiming Mason’s treatment was “controlling and manipulative”.

Mason was formally investigated by police over the allegations but was never charged with any crimes.

Hawking publicly denied the claims, despite showing up at the hospital in 2000 with “cuts and bruises” that he couldn’t explain.

His daughter Lucy appears visibly upset in the documentary as she discusses the difficult time for the whole family.

Overall the piece looks at the human cost of Hawking’s fame to himself and those around him.

Another saddening moment is when the professor’s first wife Jane reveals she sometimes thought about jumping in the river because she couldn’t cope with the pressure of their personal life.

Her current husband Jonathan Hellyer Jones features in the doc as they reveal the difficulty of falling in love when Jane was still married to Stephen and Jones was helping to care for him.

An argument about Hawking being upset that Jane no longer kissed him on the mouth is also revealed by the family.

Despite exploring Hawking’s personal struggles, his successes and achievements are also discussed throughout.

His groundbreaking book A Brief History of Time and the success it brought him is looked at from the perspective of his family as they got swept up into the whirlwind of fame.

You also get a glimpse of the genius before this time when he was child and then a student at Cambridge.

Hawking’s personal assistant Judy Fella summarised: “He was just a lovely normal person and that’s how it was really.”

You can watch Hawking: Can You Hear Me? on Sky Documentaries and NOW from September 20.

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