Stephen Hawking Draws Big Ratings For Big Bang Theory

Stephen Hawking has done several guest appearances on television shows over the years, but perhaps none of them felt quite as right as when he appeared as himself on “The Big Bang Theory” last Thursday. After all, there is no bigger fan of the brilliant physicist than Sheldon Cooper, who considers himself equal to the famous physicsts.

When he found out that Howard had been selected as the engineer to help keep Hawking’s specialized wheelchair in tip top shape during his lecture stay, Sheldon was beside himself with jealousy. But realizing he had the upper hand for once, Howard first had him perform a series of humiliating stunts, before admitting that he’d already given Dr. Hawking Sheldon’s paper.

The doctor wanted to meet Sheldon to tell him it was impressive work, save for a miscalculation. Hawking insisted on doing the voice work himself for his guest spot, rather than let producers add in his signature mechanical voice later. And he proved quite adept, as Simon Helberg noted on his Twitter feed, at comedic timing.

“Big Bang” drew just over 13 million viewers, which is down from its season average. That meant “Idol” was also down near historic lows, though the early warm weather this spring has generally reduced audiences for early-evening prime time shows over the last several weeks.

CBS also had good news in the 9 p.m. hour, where “Person of Interest” beat ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” for the first time among 18- to 49-year-old viewers.

“Person” has quietly become one of the biggest rookie hits of the 2011-2012 season.

Thursday was a potentially mixed night in another way for Shonda Rimes, the creator of “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Rimes’s new ABC drama “Scandal,” which is slotted right after “Grey’s,” debuted with 7.45 million viewers. It lost 25% of its younger audience from the “Grey’s” lead-in, however, and since shows tend to lose audience after the sampling of the first week, “Scandal” may need a boost.

On the other hand, it’s doing better than NBC’s 10 p.m. drama “Awake,” which drew only 2.5 million viewers and very likely soon will be put to sleep.

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