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Tributes paid after Freddie Starr reported dead

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”.

Starr’s legacy

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

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Britain’s Got Talent judge Holden 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.”

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She added: “I hope his legacy is not smalled down and he’s remembered with a smile.”

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

Lord Sugar described Starr as a “very funny man”.

Fellow Liverpool comedian and TV personality Les Dennis tweeted that Starr was “so exciting to watch live.”

“A true clown who could also sing like Elvis,” he added. “A total one off. RIP.”

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.

Court case

He later lost a defamation claim against an accuser in 2015 who said he groped her when she was 15.

Karin Ward, 56, alleged that the assault took place in 1974 behind the scenes of Jimmy Savile’s Clunk Click TV show.

Starr denied the claims and sought damages for alleged slander and libel.

Judge Mr Justice Nicol said the case failed because Ms Ward’s testimony was found to be true, and because too much time had lapsed.

‘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.

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.

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

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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