Freddie Starr: Tributes paid after comic dies aged 76
Tributes have been paid to comedian Freddie Starr who has died aged 76.
The Merseyside-born comic, singer, impressionist and actor was found dead in his home in the Costa Del Sol region of Spain, the Sun said.
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".
Davro tweeted: "I'm so sad we have lost one of our greatest comedy talents."
Britain's Got Talent judge Holden added: "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."
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."
The BBC has not been able to confirm the reports, however Euro Weekly News is reporting the coroner in Malaga has confirmed to them that Starr died of natural causes.
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 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.
Comic and actor Russ Abbot described Starr as both a "natural funnyman" and "loose comedy cannon".
"You never knew what he would do next. He helped launch my career of course, and for that I will always be grateful."
TV presenter Anne Diamond recalled he was "always difficult and awkward to interview but always worth it".
Jimmy Cricket called Starr one of the UK's "best ever visual comedians and mimics", while Former Allo Allo actress Vicki Michelle added he was a "great comedian".