Piers Morgan made his debut as CNN’s Tonight host, interviewing Oprah Winfrey in what has been variously described as “vain”, “decent”, “fawning” and “playful”.

Former tabloid editor and Britain’s Got Talent judge, Morgan, has taken over from Larry King as host of the US chat show and expectations were high for his first episode.

Turning the tables on veteran talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, Morgan asked questions about her love life and teenage pregnancy. Winfrey described her feelings of relief when the baby died:

“I felt nothing but relief because I felt before that baby was born I was going to have to kill myself,” she said.

Piers Morgan’s CNN debut

Probing questions indeed. But was the US press impressed with Morgan’s interviewing skills?

“Morgan’s first show turned out to be a fawning and completely unnecessary interview with a successful businesswoman,” the Washington Post surmised.

Morgan was “by turns charming, vain, well informed, and fawning – but mostly just fawning,” said the Boston Globe.

Variety said: “Morgan was so deferential in his hour-long chat with Winfrey that the adjective she used to describe his interviewing skills – ‘Surprising’ – seemed very generous indeed. ‘Boring’ would be more accurate.”

Others were more forgiving. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer Morgan was “high-energy, enthusiastic, effusive, playful, fascinated”.

The Entertainment Weekly website said that “simply by having facts about his subject at hand and speaking coherently, Morgan aced King on his opening night.”

Although the site qualified this praise by saying that Morgan had “a bit of a doughy face and a small mouth”.

Oprah Winfrey herself seemed impressed by Tonight’s new host, telling Morgan “You’re good” as he asked her how many times she had been “properly in love”.