By Jack Maidment, Deputy Political Editor For Mailonline
Published: 20:45 BST, 18 June 2019 | Updated: 21:53 BST, 18 June 2019
Viewers slammed the BBC's handling of the Tory leadership debate after candidates shouted over each other and made it almost impossible to hear their rivals' answers.
Presenter Emily Maitlis was criticised on social media for presiding over an 'omnishambles' which was 'hugely overshadowed by a chaotic and poor presentation by the BBC'.
The broadcaster faced searching questions even as the much-anticipated event was ongoing over the format it had chosen as questions were hurried and candidates did not have very long to explain themselves.
Boris Johnson's decision to skip the first televised leadership debate of the campaign hosted by Channel 4 on Sunday meant tonight's event had been billed as the front runner's coming out party.
But what should have been a major moment in the race for Number 10 risked turning into a damp squib as Mr Johnson and his colleagues struggled to be heard.
Even the set for the debate was condemned after it left the challengers 'manspreading' as they sat awkwardly on high stools with their legs wide apart.
Meanwhile, Rory Stewart was singled out for mockery after he removed his tied midway through the debate.
The move prompted people online to joke that it was part of a pre-planned attempt to appear as more of a 'man of the people' than his suit and tie wearing colleagues.
Emily Maitlis was accused of losing control of proceedings as the candidates talked over each other amid questions about the format chosen by the BBC
Rory Stewart, along with the other candidates, was accused of 'manspreading' by social media users because of his wide-legged stance on his stool during the debate
The debate was punctuated early on by noisy exchanges over the candidates' respective Brexit plans as each of them tried to get the upper hand.
At times Ms Maitlis was forced to