Chat show host Paul O’Grady has claimed that many of the guests who appeared on his programme were high on drugs – and the stress of interviewing them was behind his decision to quit his show.

The 56-year-old – who is starring in the new Coronation Street musical due to open in Manchester this Spring, told the Daily Mail that interference from publicists also led to him giving up the sofa after his ITV chat show ended.

“Every question had to go through the lawyers,” Paul said. “I was just another plug for someone’s book or film.

“And I can tell you I saw some dross and read some rubbish but I was too polite to say ‘this is shameful, how you’ve got the nerve to publish this is beyond me’. So I’d say ‘oh I really enjoyed your book,’ but would be thinking ‘I can’t do this anymore'”.

“ITV asked me to come back this year,” he revealed, “but it was time for me to go.”

Paul added that there had been a few hairy moments during his teatime show on Channel 4 when he worried about what his guests might say next.

“When I was doing my daytime show I’d feel like self-mutilating under the desk thinking ‘they’re going to swear. It’s 5pm. There’s kids watching’.”

He also spoke of the strain of having to nurse his long-term partner Brendan Murphy – who died of brain cancer seven years ago – during his final weeks, while his Channel 4 show was midway through its run.

“They’d be talking about the long hours they worked or their shoes and I wasn’t interested,” he said candidly. “It would flash across my mind, ‘you’re sitting here talking about shoes and there’s a man dying in my bed.”