Kenyan born British academic, Richard Dawkins, and his actress wife Lalla Ward have confirmed their 24-year marriage has ended.
Professor Dawkins, the UK’s highest profile atheist who suffered a minor stroke earlier this year, and the 65-year-old former Dr Who star said their split was ‘amicable’.
The 75-year-old Nairobi born evolutionary biologist and author and his wife, who has illustrated some of her husband’s work, are understood to be still living at their £3million home in Oxford, and ‘remain friends’.
“Our marriage, like everyone’s, is a private matter and we are not prepared to share any details. Suffice to say it is true that we recently separated entirely amicably.
“Obviously, this remains a difficult time, one which we simply will not discuss any further publicly. We would, however, like to stress that we shall always be friends and that we will, of course, continue to work together.”
– Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward joint statement
The former couple are believed to have met at a party in 1992 hosted by mutual friend, former Dr Who scriptwriter and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author, Douglas Adams
Despite Dawkins saying he was ‘not looking to marry again’ after two previous marriages had ended in divorce, the pair married six months later.
Earlier this year, the Oxford academic was forced to cancel a tour of Australia and New Zealand after suffering from a stroke on February 5, but is believed to have made a full recovery.
Professor Dawkins was born in Nairobi in 1941 and initially found fame in 1976 with his work on evolution, The Selfish Gene.
But he became a household name when The God Delusion was published in 2006, in which he argued that a belief in God was delusional as there was no evidence to support his existence.
Prof Dawkins released the second part of his autobiography, Brief Candle in the Dark, last year, which was dedicated ‘For Lalla’ to his wife.
Lalla Ward was born Sarah Ward in 1951, and is the daughter of Edward Ward, 7th Viscount Bangor, and his fourth wife, Marjorie Alice Banks. Her stage name, “Lalla”, came from her attempts as a toddler to pronounce her own name.
Her acting career began in the Hammer Horror series in the early 1970s before being cast as the second incarnation of Time Lady Romana in Doctor Who between 1979 and 1981.
She went on to marry her television co-star Tom Baker in 1982, but the union on lasted two years.