Professor Stephen Hawking says he would consider assisted suicide should be became merely a burden. The physicist who suffers from motor neurone disease has argued that keeping someone alive against their own wishes is the "ultimate indignity".

Stephen HawkingProfessor Stephen Hawking says he would consider assisted suicide

In an interview with comedian Dara O'Briain for a new BBC programme, Professor Hawking said: "To keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity.

"I would consider assisted suicide only if I were in great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me."

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However, he said: "I am damned if I'm going to die before I have unravelled more of the universe."

O'Briain, a comedian with a degree in theoretical physics, praised Hawking for his "impressively honest answers, even to the most direct questions." 

"At times I get very lonely because people are afraid to talk to me or don't wait for me to write a response," said Prof Hawking during one segment of the interview, which is to air on June 15.

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"I'm shy and tired at times. I find it difficult to talk to people I don't know."

Earlier this year, a film of Hawking's life, The Theory of Everything, saw Eddie Redmayne win a Bafta and an Oscar for his portrayal of the physicist. Felicity Jones played his wife in the story of the young love and their subsequent struggles with Hawking's diagnosis.

Dara O'Briain meets Stephen Hawking will air on BBC One.

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