Peter York on Ads: Highly covetable Seventies childhoods, available now from a sweetshop near you

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The Independent Online

All I'm saying is that I can't actually bring the space hopper truly to mind. Personally. Except in that huge False Memory Machine of Retro-Review TV. We all know those programmes - archive film stripped in with talking heads. That black comedienne who was on the Lenny Henry Show; that Northern writer type, Stuart something; Kate Thornton; Peter York. That type of person.

I've done masses of them. Like blood donors, they give you a cup of tea afterwards. In a temporary studio in the Pig and Whistle, Walthamstow High Street. Half a crown and a box of chocolates. It gets you out of the house. You see old friends in the temporary Green Room. One week it could be Tara and James Hewitt, the next Noddy Holder and Jimmy Pursey. It all depends on your period, and your focus. Are you there as a player, as a child of the time, a pundit or what exactly? You have to ask them what they want.

Whatever; the space hopper has featured very heavily in these round-ups and everyone claims to remember them now. I know a correlation isn't a cause - the first thing I was taught as a boy apprentice - but you have to wonder.

And then space hoppers started to appear in commercials. Retro Review-type commercials particularly. And now they're in the new Maltesers ad. It isn't really retro, it's actually mildly spacey in the manner of those BT ads where people somersault in the sky around tall buildings, or that Hewlett-Packard thing. In the Maltesers commercial ordinary women, working Joanne kinds of women, fly around on Malteser space hoppers, through a sepia sky, around big buildings and concrete canyons to lounge music like an Andy Williams backing track - bup, bup, bup baa - from a soft-voiced ladies' chorus.

"It's the lighter way to enjoy commuting," they say. It looks nice in a dream-sequency sort of way, especially when they do a Golden Dawn effect, or when they float past train windows. But ask yourself: how old were the drop-crotch jean boys who wrote this? Were they even born when the space hopper allegedly flourished? That's all I'm saying. It's up to you.