Fiona Bruce became an immediate hit with viewers on Question Time just minutes into her first episode as host last night.
She had admitted she had rarely felt as nervous as when preparing for the flagship political programme, despite being one of the BBC’s most seasoned broadcasters.
And social media erupted with opinions just seconds into the show, with most feedback positive as the host grilled both Conservative and Labour politicians.
One Twitter user, referencing her time on the Antiques Roadshow, said: ‘Fiona Bruce has had 15 years talking to greedy vase owners and she’s off the f***ing leash here.’
Brexit was the first and primary topic of discussion and interruption on the first Question Time since the Christmas break.
And Bruce was praised for pressing guests on the Brexit deal, Conservative leave strategy, and alleged Labour electioneering over the EU.
The panel for Bruce’s first programme included Conservative MP James Cleverly and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry for Labour.
Jo Swinson from the Liberal Democrats, journalist Melanie Phillips and comedian Nish Kumar, who hosts satirical news show The Mash Report, were also on air.
One person wrote: ‘Two seconds in & I already love Fiona Bruce. No one can replace David Dimbleby but I want her to win!’
Bruce got straight down to business, pushing politicians to answer questions.
Within the first few minutes of the show Bruce asserted her authority, firmly questioned Mr Cleverly over the government’s apparent lack of control over the Brexit process.
In an exchange with the senior Tory, she said: ‘If this is the government being in control, what does out of control look like?’.
She added later on Brexit plans: ‘Does anyone have any idea what the plan B is, literally anyone?’
She asked Ms Thornberry why Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is not responding to ’72 per cent of members’ who want a second referendum.
Fiona Bruce was announced as the new host of Question Time after months of speculation
Bruce said: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has said he believed the party should listen to members and the last poll suggest 72 percent want a second referendum.
‘The majority of your party members want a second referendum. Why aren’t you going for that?’
The shadow foreign secretary retorted saying Mr Corbyn was sticking with party policy and was instead calling for a general election.
One Twitter user said: ‘3 Minutes in to THE REIGN OF BRUCE on Question Time & if I were a politician I’d be s******* my pants. She is taking zero s***. Love it. #BBCQT.’
Another added: ‘I’m loving fiona bruce on #questiontime actually forcing the panellists to answer the question that was asked.’
Ms Thornberry was pushed on the issue of the people’s vote rather than a general election.
Bruce asked: ‘Do you actually want to work with the Tories? You’ll never get the general election you want. So it’s not in your interests?
Emily Thornberry said: ‘In the end the people who suffer if the economy goes south will not be Boris Johnson, it will be people who have only just got their heads above water.
‘The problem with the Theresa May deal is based on a belief in unicorns there are all kinds of fantasies in it.
‘Some kind of equipment which hasn’t been invented yet on the Irish border.
The audience put their questions to MPs James Cleverly, Emily Thornberry and Jo Swinson, broadcaster Melanie Phillips and The Mash Report host Nish Kumar
Bruce responded: ‘Hold on has she actually promised that?’
While the audience asked why people should vote Labour, while politicians are ‘not listening’ to them on Brexit, the host continued to press the Labour politician.
Ms Thornberry said: ‘This government has not only manifestly failed on Brexit it is failing on everything else as well.’
The host replied: ‘Look at the reaction you’re getting Emily people are laughing.’
Mr Kumar asked the panel to focus on the Tory party rather than Labour – since Theresa May is in power.
Bruce had said she was nervous and wondered if people would be left asking who she was
Mr Cleverly also took a grilling when the host said ‘sometimes you have to stop talking and listen’.
Bruce pushed him to explain the Government’s ‘plan B’ if the Theresa May doesn’t pass.
‘We’ve heard lots from Emily – I want to hear from you. What do you think the plan B should be? You said you have got a plan but you haven’t.
‘I asked you what your plan is and you said you were going to tell me have I missed it?’
Mr Kumar later clashed with journalist Melanie Phillips over stop and search in London and ‘institutionalised racism’ in the police as knife crime in London rockets.
Fiona Bruce impressed the audience on Question Time this evening as she took over as host – although not everyone was impressed
Mr Kumar said he was ‘disgusted’ with Ms Phillips response to the epidemic as she criticised the Macpherson report and said those involved in knife crime were mostly young black men.
When asked if he had ever read the report Mr Kumar appeared to suggest he had not – sparking a feisty defence of her position from the journalist who said she had read the report ‘when it came out and several times subsequently’.
Mr Kumar called stop and search a ‘deeply racist policy’.
Bruce made her debut as host of the BBC’s flagship debate show from North London yesterday, replacing David Dimbleby who anchored the series for 25 years.
The 54-year-old said it felt ‘massively exposing’ to chair the programme.
‘I have not felt this nervous in a long time, but I know that if I am nervous that isn’t helpful.
Bruce was seen making her way to the studios yesterday to make her debut appearance as the first female host of Question Time
‘If people think you are nervous then that isn’t a comfortable watch,’ she said.
Speaking to the Telegraph ahead of the broadcast, she added: ‘I am expecting people to say ‘Who the hell is that, why have they got her?’ I’ve got a slight feeling of tin hats at the ready.’
Bruce is the first woman to chair Question Time.
She was asked to apply for the job by BBC bosses, and beat off competition from a largely female shortlist which included Emily Maitlis, Victoria Derbyshire and Kirsty Wark.
The star – who will reportedly receive around £400,000-a-year for the job – added that it was ‘a thrill’ to face a ‘new challenge at the age of 54’.
Mr Dimbleby, 80, announced his departure last year, saying he wants to return to his ‘first love’ of reporting.