Fiona Bruce acclaimed for cool, calm Question Time debut

The presenter’s sharp interventions impressed critics and audiences

“Welcome to all of you here, and of course all of you at home. It’s lovely to be here.” And with that, and a knowing smile to the camera, Fiona Bruce swept away 25 years of David Dimbleby’s Question Time and claimed the nation’s highest-profile political programme absolutely as her own.

Bruce had confessed to feeling uncharacteristically apprehensive before her debut on the BBC One programme on Thursday night, chairing a panel that comprised the Conservative deputy chairman, James Cleverly, the shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, columnist Melanie Phillips, comedian Nish Kumar and Jo Swinson, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats.

But she gave no hint of nerves during a performance that won widespread praise for her “millpond calm” but “focused, thorough, journalistic approach” (The Times) and “calmness, clarity and dry wit” (Daily Telegraph).

On social media, too, there was widespread appreciation. “Ooh … I like her. She’s keeping them on track to answer,” tweeted businesswoman Deborah Meaden. “Fiona Bruce is doing an amazing job on Question Time, bravo,” said Jonathan Ross. And from the actor Sanjeev Kohli: “Fiona Bruce REALLY needs to bring this fire & sarcasm to the owners of antique forks. Outstanding performance.”

There were sharp interventions (telling Thornberry the audience were laughing at her as she outlined Labour policy) and quotable quotes (to Cleverly: “If this is the government being in control, what does out of control look like?”) and even a viral-worthy hashtag when Twitter users responded enthusiastically to a #ladyinyellow outlining why she did not feel sorry for Theresa May.

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