George Michael has broken yet another taboo by openly smoking cannabis in front of a Labour peer.

In the course of an interview for The South Bank Show, the former Wham! front man and gay icon puffed on a joint.

Michael was speaking to Melvyn Bragg, the veteran arts presenter, who was made a life peer by Tony Blair in 1998.

Bragg has presented The South Bank Show for 28 years, but this is thought to be the first time that an interviewee has smoked an illegal drug while being interviewed.

Michael was interviewed backstage in Madrid as he prepares for his world tour, the first in 15 years.

The popular entertainer is quoted by the Daily Mirror as telling the programme: “This stuff keeps me sane and happy. I could write without it…if I were sane and happy.

“I’d say it’s a great drug – but obviously it’s not very healthy. You can’t afford to smoke it if you’ve got anything to do. Anything at all would be foolish.”

He went on to warn that the drug can make people lethargic: “You’ve got to be in the right position in life to take it.

“You’ve got to have achieved most of your ambitions because it chills you out to such a degree you could lose your ambitions.

“I think my life might be somewhere else if I’d chosen another avenue. Alcohol for instance.Christ, if I drank as much as I smoked. My God, I’d be like Keith Richards.”

The programme starts with a disclaimer, pointing out that Michael has never tested positively for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Michael told Lord Bragg that he did not take cannabis until he was 22 or 23, but says it is the only drug he thinks it is worth taking.

There has been a tabloid frenzy surrounding Michael in recent months, with revelations of al fresco sex on Hampstead Heath and a police caution after being found asleep at the wheel of his car again.

He told The South Bank Show “I hope my future is very different. I hope I learn to shut my mouth.

“If I did, I would probably have all the sex I like, wherever I like. Which I do anyway, to be honest with you.

“I should learn to shut my mouth. That would be clever.”

The hour-long show is due to be broadcast on ITV1 on 31st October.