Fiona Bruce is hosting the first edition of Question Time to be broadcast since David Dimbleby's departure.
"It's lovely to be here," she told the audience in Islington in North London as the show began.
Dimbleby stepped down last month after 25 years fronting the political show.
He received a standing ovation from the audience during his last episode, which was broadcast on 13 December.
The panel for Bruce's first programme includes Conservative MP James Cleverly, 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.
Early reactions to Bruce were broadly positive - with viewers and fellow journalists praising her robust challenging of the panel.
"There is nothing like [Question Time] on TV," Bruce told The Telegraph ahead of her first edition, which is being broadcast on BBC One.
"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 currently hosts BBC One's Six and Ten news bulletins as well as the Antiques Roadshow. She has also previously presented Crimewatch and Panorama.
In her Telegraph interview, Bruce said: "I have not felt this nervous in a long time, but I know that if I am nervous, that isn't helpful.