Scrapheap Challenge’s Robert Llewellyn talks motors

Robert Llewelyn

Robert Llewelyn

Robert Llewellyn shot to fame playing Kryten in the cult sitcom Red Dwarf, and has since gone on to present shows including ‘Scrapheap Challenge’ and ‘How Do They Do It?’.

His latest series Carpool, which sees him interviewing celebrities while giving them a lift to their chosen destination, has been a huge hit online, and will be coming to Dave from Thursday, November 4.

What do you drive?
I drive a Toyota Prius. I got one because of a mixture of being intrigued by the actual technology – that was my slightly nerdier side – and then suddenly realising that the car I was driving was doing maybe 18 miles to the gallon. The first time I drove a Prius, I got 63 miles to the gallon, and that was the key motivating thing, and that then opened up a whole other area of questioning the things we absolutely accept as normal and the true cost and impact of oil. In a sense that was annoying, because I was quite a happy petrolhead before that!

What was your first car?
The first thing I drove was a three-and-a-half tonne converted furniture truck which was a BMC FGK40. I learnt to drive in it, so when I then did my test in my mother’s little Renault, I failed because I was all over the road because I kept double de-clutching.

What was your best/worst car?
A car that I’ve had quite a lot of goes in and is really hard to beat is the Tesla Roadster Sport. That is such an extraordinary vehicle to drive and they’re quite rare – it’s an electric sports car – and I really loved it. Its acceleration is terrifying, you might as well just tear up your license and throw it out of the window.

I think I’ve been very lucky with cars, but I had an old Volkswagen Beetle which would now be a classic collector’s car if I hadn’t had it, because I didn’t look after it that well. It was amazing, but the heating didn’t work. It was a tough car to drive in the winter.

What is your dream car?
My dream car would certainly be an electric vehicle. Last year, I saw a working prototype of the Tesla Model S which is car that is roughly the same size as BMW Five Series. It was just a beautiful-shaped car, like a cross between a top end Jaguar and an Aston Martin, only better.

Do you consider yourself to be a good driver?
I think I am, but it’s absolutely a result of many years experience rather than any innate skill. I’ve recorded about 90 episodes of Carpool now, and you’d think someone would have gone ‘Ooh, steady now’, but no one has said anything.

What do you always keep in your glovebox?
Absolutely nothing. Ross Noble has said he wants to get a thousand surgical gloves and shove them in the glove box, so then when you’re giving someone a lift you can say ‘Oh, just look in the glovebox’ and it explodes with gloves. I haven’t done that yet, but I’m determined to do it.

What drives you mad behind the wheel?
I get cut up all the time, but I don’t get angry because I just think there’s no point. When I was younger maybe my masculinity was threatened by someone driving faster than me, but I’m well past that now. I’m sure if someone threw a brick through my window, I’d get upset, but the general hurly burly of the road doesn’t bother me.

What’s the best music to drive to?
I’m quite a talky person, so I tend to listen to the radio and audio books. I like The Corrs though, because I’m a middle-aged man and they’re gorgeous young Irish women, and you just hope that one of them might love you. I’ve gone really soppy in my old age, I used to love thrash metal, but now Taylor Swift is right up my street.

Have you ever had a crash?
I had one last year, although I hasten to point out that even the police said it wasn’t my fault. Someone drove into the back of me from a side lane in the countryside and tore my car to bits, but luckily I wasn’t injured, and nor was anyone else.

Who would be your perfect passenger?
I’d quite like to have someone really, really famous to see if Carpool works with an A-list Hollywood star. I’ve always wanted to meet Jodie Foster. There’d be no fear of sexual tension, but I think she’s fantastic and she’s such a bright woman, I’d love to talk to her.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done in a car?
I’ve done quite a lot of crazy things in cars through work. I’ve jumped a racing Land Rover over a cliff, and I’ve been in a Monster Truck over a jump, which was quite extreme.

Who cleans your car, and how often?
I clean my car and not very often. I have paid my son to do it, but when he’d finished, I then cleaned it. In the most recent series of Carpool, we had it valeted, so it was all hovered inside and it smelt nice, which was good.

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