Ms Bruce, 54, became the first female host after replacing the show’s longtime host David Dimbleby, 80. The newsreader said she was expecting people to say, ‘Who the hell is that?’ during her first appearance. She said: “I have not felt this nervous in a long time and I know that if I am nervous, that isn’t helpful.
“If people think you are nervous, then that isn’t comfortable to watch.”
The mother-of-two said one of her biggest concerns is convincing senior Cabinet ministers to appear.
She added: “Liam Fox [International Trade Secretary] comes on, and he is a very independent-minded man who says what he wants to say. But politically, to get the Chancellor or the Defence Secretary or the Home Secretary… they are the people you want. “With things so febrile at the moment, to come on Question Time is a massive statement. I realise how difficult it is.”
And analysing her role, she said: “There’s nothing like it on TV. I mean, it is massively exposing. 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.”
Ms Bruce was joined by James Cleverly, deputy chairman of the Conservatives Party; Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry; Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson; comedian Nish Kumar and journalist Melanie Phillips.
She secured the coveted role after seeing off competition from Nick Robinson, Samira Ahmed, Emily Maitlis, Kirsty Wark and Victoria Derbyshire.
But she conceded she did not expect to be approached after Dimbleby’s decision to stand down. She said: “It’s very unusual for the BBC not to have their ducks in a row for a programme like this. So it is clear that they were as surprised as everybody else.”
Ms Bruce, who lives in Hampstead, north London, felt that her age was not a barrier and said to be given the challenge “is a thrill”. She said: “Five years ago, if someone had asked whether people would still want me working, I would have said probably not. But the landscape has changed.”
And when asked about reaction to her move, she said: “When I was the first woman to be part of the general election team, I remember there was a bit of a fuss, and I was thinking ‘Why has it taken this long?’ “I’m not saying ‘not before time’ about Question Time, because that makes me sound like Dimbleby shouldn’t have been doing it for the past 25 years, and he is a legend.
“I wasn’t sitting there thinking ‘I should be doing that'”.
Ms Bruce earns in excess of £350,000 a year for her BBC roles. She is expected to see a slight reduction in the number of appearances on the Six O’Clock and Ten O’Clock news bulletins, but she will still front Antiques Roadshow and Fake Or Fortune.