It has been a hectic week of kite flying by Rishi Sunak on subjects ranging from inheritance tax and green targets to pension rises and benefit cuts.

Anyone would think it was party conference season and a general election was on the way.

With so much up in the air it was the ideal time for the Sunday politics shows to stand back and separate the possible and likely from the pie-in-the-sky stuff. Good luck with that when Grant Shapps is the minister on Sunday duty.

Given how many jobs he has had in government, the current Defence Secretary is the nearest the Sunak cabinet has to a jack- of-all-trades. That ought to make him the perfect guest to cover a wide range of topics, but the opposite is usually the case. It is because Mr Shapps can fit in anywhere that he is moved around so much. Good for the government, but hopeless if you are an interviewer trying to pin him down.

Both Victoria Derbyshire – standing in for Laura Kuenssberg – on BBC1 and Trevor Phillips on Sky News were faced with one straight bat answer after another, most of them around the theme of “that’s newspaper speculation” or “I’m not the Chancellor”.

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As one of the panellists on Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips said, the Sky host had been given the unenviable task of doing a 15-minute interview with someone who was determined to say nothing.

That was not quite right. In failing to rule out further scaling back on HS2, and saying it would be “crazy” not to review costs on such a long-running project, the minister had set the mood music for his boss to make an announcement this week. But should he have been given so long to do so? And wouldn’t direct answers to questions be better than this trek around the houses?

It is not the first time this has happened but it is occurring more frequently, to the point where you do wonder if the traditional sit-down interview has had its day as a way of covering politics.

The Sunday shows are adding other voices into the mix via panels, but these are only as good as the guests on them. When they work, as in the week when Andrew Marr appeared with Craig Oliver, former Downing Street director of communications, they add to the sum of viewer knowledge.

When they don’t work, as was the case yesterday on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, the panels become little more than shouting matches. At one point Derbyshire reminded two of the panelists – former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and Tory MP Craig Mackinlay – that no one could hear what was being said if the guests talked over each other.

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It’s a problem familiar to viewers of BBC1’s Question Time. Not that this dissuades other shows from trying the panel format.

The latest attempt at a reboot takes place in Glasgow on Tuesday. The Today Debate, hosted by Mishal Husain, will be held at BBC Scotland’s Pacific Quay headquarters and broadcast live on Radio 4 from 8pm.

According to the programme info, the idea is to give a subject the time it would never get on the daily radio show – in this case, 40 minutes. The topic for Glasgow, as in previous programmes, will be chosen on the day.

The event is fully booked but you can join the mailing list to hear about future shows.

Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips invited the American journalist and author Lionel Shriver to talk about why she was leaving the UK after several decades here. Inevitably the caption writer headlined the segment, “We need to talk about Britain”.

The 66-year-old is moving to a small town outside Lisbon for the adventure of it. But she is also “distressed” at what she says is the UK’s adoption of America’s culture wars. “Come up with your own screwed-up ideology,” she advised.

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It was the lockdown during the pandemic that “really damaged my emotional relationship with this country”, said Shriver, calling the government’s actions “quasi-totalitarian”.

Phillips did his job and put the counterargument, and the back and forth provided a breezy enough ending to the show.

Attention now turns to The Today Debate as it heads to Glasgow. Will there be less heat and more light on radio than television? That will depend on the subject, and Husain’s handling of the event.

Coincidentally, both the Today presenter and Victoria Derbyshire were among the names mentioned at the time as possible replacements for David Dimbleby on Question Time. How the media world turns.

The Today Debate, BBC Radio 4, Tuesday September 26