This week, UK TV viewers will have seen the return of floppy-haired pensioner prankcaller Jonathan Ross on their screens, assuming they had tuned in to ITV on Saturday night, for the first in his new series of his chat show. Although having jumped ship from BBC to ITV, the actual programme remained much the same as when he worked for Auntie Beeb, and while relatively big-name guests (Adele and Lewis Hamilton) were in attendance, neither of those people naturally lend themselves to perfect interviewee fodder (and I say that as a Hamilton fan).

Nonetheless, the production values were all there and everything looked as slick as Ross’s haircut. But that must’ve cost a fair number of pennies to broadcast, and in the context of what I’m about to discuss, I’m not sure it’s the greatest value.

I stumbled on to Carpool’s YouTube channel by accident, but was surprised with what there was on offer. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Carpool is the brainchild of Robert Llewellyn – he of Red Dwarf and Scrapheap Challenge fame. The premise is ridiculously simple; arrange to meet a celebrity or well-known figure, pick them up in his eco-friendly Toyota car, drive them to work, and chat with them on their journey. All the while, they are being filmed from the three-or-so cameras positioned on the interior of the car.

And that’s pretty much it.

And the great thing is, it works perfectly. Guests don’t come on there because they have something to plug, they come on because they’d like a good natter and a free car ride. Note how I wrote ‘chat with’ instead of ‘chat to’ – Llewellyn allows his passenger the freedom to talk about whatever they want, and a fine discussion emerges, with the viewer like a fly on the wall. Or, in this case, the inside corner of a car window. Carpool’s a bit like the good old days of Parkinson, when Michael Parkinson would encourage stimulating debate instead of fawning and touching his guest’s knee.

There are dozens of videos available to watch (including, ironically, one with Jonathan Ross), and it comes with a hearty recommendation. Here’s an example of one of his Carpool journeys:

Also worthy of mentioning is the BBC News’s ‘Five Minutes With’ series, a compact programme where the channel’s reporter Matthew Stadlen, usually armed with an alarm clock, meets a whole bunch of famous faces. More than 100 of these bitesize snapshots of celebrities have been produced now, and are similarly well worth a look.