Tributes paid after Starr reported dead

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Tributes have been paid to comedian Freddie Starr who has reportedly died, aged 76.

The Merseyside-born comic, impressionist, singer and actor was found dead inside his home in the Costa Del Sol region of Spain, the Sun said.

The BBC has not been able to confirm the reports.

Comedian Bobby Davro described him as “the funniest man I have ever seen”, while presenter Amanda Holden said he should be “remembered with a smile”.

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The Britain’s Got Talent judge tweeted: “Sad to hear of Freddie Starr passing today. His style may have fallen out of comedy fashion and favour-but it’s important to recognise his once huge popularity and fame.”

Comedian Jim Davidson also tweeted: “Just heard the news. Freddie Starr was the greatest.”

Starr rose to prominence in the early 1970s after appearing on the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks. He starred in several other TV programmes in the 90s and famously featured in the Sun’s “Freddie Starr ate my hamster” headline in 1986.

In 2012, he was arrested by police investigating allegations of historical sexual abuse but he was never charged.

He later lost a defamation claim against an accuser in 2015.

‘I’m a Celebrity’

Starr began his career as lead singer of the Merseybeat group the Midniters during the 1960s. His TV appearances included The Freddie Starr Show and An Audience with Freddie Starr in the 1990s.

Although he became known for his unpredictable and eccentric comedy routines, he said in his autobiography that the infamous hamster-eating episode did not actually take place.

Image caption Freddie Starr was a popular entertainer in the 1970s and 1980s

The story in The Sun had claimed Starr put a hamster in a sandwich and ate it at a friend’s home after a performance.

He later took part in ITV’s I’m a Celebrity but left the show after being taken to hospital following a suspected allergic reaction.

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He suffered from ill health and in 2010 had bypass surgery after a heart attack.

Image caption Starr appeared alongside Muhammad Ali on Parkinson in 1980

“The outrageous & edgy parodies were infamous. I hope his legacy is not smalled down.”

Davro said on Twitter: “I’m so sad we have lost one of our greatest comedy talents.”

Former Allo Allo actress Vicki Michelle added he was a “great comedian”, while TV presenter Anne Diamond recalled he was “always difficult and awkward to interview but always worth it”.

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