THE BBC has been forced to apologise after Bono called Chris Martin "a wanker" live on the radio.

The U2 frontman, who came out with the foul-mouthed outburst on Jo Whiley"s Radio One show, then referred to the Coldplay singer as a "dysfunctional character and a cretin".

The corporation were forced to issue a humiliating on-air apology this morning just days after it was slammed for giving the band excessive publicity in the run up to their new album release.

On the show yesterday morning (27.02.08), Whiley asked Bono if he thought that Martin was as talented as Paul McCartney.

Bono replied: "I think he"s that good a melodist, but he"s a wanker."

Whiley then interrupted and tried to get Bono to apologise for his comment.

But Bono said: "I"m a reformed character, I don"t do that any more."

He then attempted to backtrack, but ended up insulting Martin again.

He said: "He"s obviously a completely dysfunctional character and a cretin but he happens to be a great melodist and up there with Ray Davis, Noel Gallagher and Paul McCartney."

Clearly embarrassed, Whiley then apologised and said: "I"m sorry if anyone is listening at the moment who were offended by the words that Bono said. I will apologise on his behalf."

After apologising for it being "early", Bono then attempted to praise Coldplay and said: "I think they are a great band and actually, it turns out he’s a great soul as well.

"Sorry about that. I was just joking entirely."