As well as being one of the brightest minds in modern science, Professor Stephen Hawking will also be remembered by many for his sense of humour.
Although the astrophysics world isn’t exactly famous for its laugh-a-minute sensibilities, Professor Hawking’s prolific career afforded him many opportunities to cross over into the world of popular culture, making cameos in a number of unlikely shows and even offering commentary on celebrity news.
Here are just some of the most memorable times Stephen Hawking did exactly that…
1. ‘The Simpsons’
Arguably Professor Hawking’s most famous cameo appearance was when he paid a visit to Springfield to offer some advice to Lisa Simpson in the episode, ‘They Saved Lisa’s Brain’.
He’s then went on to appear in four different episodes of ‘The Simpsons’, but it’s his first - in which he sips beer with Homer, comments on the possibility of a “doughnut-shaped universe” and famously launches a propeller out of his wheelchair - that we’ll best remember.
2. ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’
To date, Stephen Hawking remains the only person to ever play himself in an episode of ‘Star Trek’.
His memorable scene came when Data was seen playing chess on the holodeck with “the greatest minds in history”, which also included Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.
3. ‘Little Britain’
In 2015, Professor Hawking proved he was game for a laugh when he teamed up with David Walliams for a Comic Relief sketch.
Filling in for Matt Lucas’s infamous “Andy” character, the physicist was seen being pushed around by “Lou” and even uttering Andy’s catchphrases, “yeah, I know” and “don’t like it”, before telling his co-star to “piss off”.
4. Comic Relief 2017
Two years later, Professor Hawking returned to Comic Relief, with a special Red Nose Day sketch that saw a number of celebs queueing up to be his “new voice”.
Among the hopefuls were the unusual mix of Simon Cowell, Liam Neeson, Miss Piggy, Geri Horner and… erm… Siri, while Eddie Redmayne expressed his disdain at not having been invited.
‘The Simpsons’ isn’t the only animated show that Stephen Hawking made appearances in, as a cartoon version of himself also appeared in Matt Groening’s other project, ‘Futurama’.
Like the majority of contemporary celebrities who voiced themselves in the futuristic show, Professor Hawking’s character was a de-bodied version of himself, living out his days in the future as a head in a jar, even shooting lasers out of his eyes in one memorable scene.
6. ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Undeniably one of the most memorable scenes in ‘Big Bang Theory’ history came when Sheldon Cooper was able to meet his idol, Professor Stephen Hawking, in the flesh, even presenting him with one his written theses.
Unfortunately for Sheldon, Professor Hawking quickly pointed out a “boner” of a mistake in his maths.
7. ‘The Theory Of Everything’
Although Professor Hawking didn’t actually appear in ‘The Theory Of Everything’, the film did bring his incredible life story to a whole new audience of people.
It also cleaned up at awards season, with Eddie Redmayne scooping Best Actor at the Oscars, Baftas and Golden Globes in 2015, and the biopic itself bagging Best British Film at the Baftas.
8. Baftas 2015
And on the subject of ‘The Theory Of Everything’, being the subject of a huge Hollywood film meant that the man himself was invited to the Baftas in 2015, getting a standing ovation when he arrived on stage to present Special Visual Effects.
He even won laughs from the crowd when he commented that not only was he cleverer than presenter Stephen Fry, but also “better-looking”.
9. His One Direction commentary
When Zayn Malik announced he was leaving 1D, it was the subject everyone was talking about… even people whose area of expertise doesn’t usually involve the goings on in the world’s biggest boyband.
He joked at the time, while being beamed in holographic form from Cambridge University to the Sydney Opera House: “One day there may well be proof of multiple universes … and in that universe Zayn is still in One Direction.”
10. ‘University Challenge’
In what would ultimately become one of his final on-screen appearances, Professor Hawking was a special guest during the ‘University Challenge’ final in 2017, with fans of the show in awe as he came into contact with everyone’s favourite gameshow cult hero, Monkman.