Cosmic advertising

A gadget to whisk objectionable aspects of life into a black hole? Where can we buy one?

Our experience with advertising has taught us to expect self-referential, and self-mocking, pitches from companies trying to sell us stuff by amusing us. But the latest advert from Go Compare, a British insurance-comparison service, takes this concept to a new dimension - or perhaps several.

In previous adverts, Go Compare showed a tuxedo-clad tenor, supposedly called Gio Compario, intimidating ordinary folk by singing the firm's virtues at full volume, theatrical gestures and all.

Imagine the ad agency's delight when celebrity theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking volunteered to appear in a spot. In his commercial he announces that he has mastered the secrets of black holes, regions of space and time from which nothing can escape. He then daydreams of a use for his discovery - sucking Gio Compario away from innocent insurance customers and off into the silent interstellar vastness.

It's a droll advert, and shows again that Prof Hawking has a sense of humour. But more than demand for cheap insurance, we suspect the spot will conjure up demand for black hole gadgets: you don't have to be a genius to have your own little list of things - and people - you'd be tempted to whisk off to a galaxy far, far away.

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888

Lowest Test scores

26 - New Zealand v England at Auckland, March 1955

30 - South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 1896

30 - South Africa v England at Birmingham, June 1924

35 - South Africa v England at Cape Town, April 1899

36 - South Africa v Australia at Melbourne, Feb. 1932

36 - Australia v England at Birmingham, May 1902

36 - India v Australia at Adelaide, Dec. 2020

38 - Ireland v England at Lord's, July 2019

42 - New Zealand v Australia in Wellington, March 1946

42 - Australia v England in Sydney, Feb. 1888