It is, of course, not unknown for a man to become famous with the support of his family — and, once he has, to prefer global adulation to being with them, before leaving his wife for a younger woman. What’s rather less common is when the man in question is almost completely paralysed.
This was the story told by Hawking: Can You Hear Me? and, in advance, it might have sounded an over-familiar one. After all, not only was Stephen Hawking one of the few physicists to become a tabloid staple, but he was also played to Oscar-winning effect by Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything. As it transpired, though, the programme proved somewhere between eye-opening and jaw-dropping. Hawking’s family talked about him with such frankness that it sometimes felt as if the director, Oliver Twinch, had slipped them all a truth drug rather than, more prosaically, spending five years building up their justified trust.