Freddie Starr’s funeral – comedian laid to rest in front of fans and family

Freddie Starr is being laid to rest in a star-studded funeral surrounded by his friends, family and famous fans.

The 76-year-old comedian died at his Costa Del Sol apartment last month after suffering a heart attack. He had been ill for a number of years, neighbours said.

Freddie, who was also the lead singer of Merseybeat pop group the Midniters, is being laid to rest in a church service at Liverpool's Prescot Parish Church at 1pm.

Celebrities including the medium Derek Acorah are attending.

Freddie's daughters Ebony and Tara were there, after Tara detailed her abusive childhood to the Sunday Mirror.

She declined to take part in the tributes.

In the eulogy, Ebony said of her father: "You've always been there for me, and always will be even though you've left me unexpectedly"

She added the he would "always be in my heart".

Fans have been lining the streets outside the church to pay their respects, and speakers placed outside the building are broadcasting the ceremony.

A round of applause broke out when the sleek black hearse containing Freddie's coffin pulled up outside the church.

Fans were invited to touch and take pictures with the coffin before it was carried into the church by pallbearers, topped with a huge display of white lilies.

Canon John Taylor, who is conducting the service, opened with the words, "An outstanding talent and a comic genius" to describe Freddie.

A private burial will follow, open only to Freddie's relatives, where he will be buried in a wooden coffin engraved with the Elvis song 'Return To Sender' and the words 'Liverpool Legend'.

His body will be placed next to the grave of his mother.

Mourners have been asked to wear red ties or roses to his funeral – a nod to his famous Teddy Boy jacket that he wore in in his TV and stage shows.

Among the guests expected to show up are two of his four ex-wives, Donna and Sophie, and some of his six children.

However, 22-year-old daughter Tara Coleman-Starr is not expected to attend following her comments about his abuse .

Freddie rose to fame in the early 1970s after appearing on TV show Opportunity Knocks and the Royal Variety Performance. 

He went on to star in a number of his own TV shows, including The Freddie Starr Show and An Audience with Freddie Starr. 

Freddie also presented game show Beat The Crusher and appeared on I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2011.

He appeared on the reality show just one year after recovering from quadruple bypass surgery following a heart attack.

He was famously axed from the show after collapsing, amid reports producers feared he could die on the show.

The comic was also the subject of one of the best known British tabloid headlines of all time.

A story ran in The Sun on March 13, 1986, entitled 'Freddie Starr ate my hamster'.

According to the story, Freddie returned to the home of a friend he was staying with after a performance at a Manchester night club and demanded that a sandwich was made for him.

It's claimed that when his request was refused, Freddie grabbed the woman's pet hamster, put it between two slices of bread and ate it.

He denied it all, writing in his autobiography Unwrapped: "I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any other small mammal".

In the 70s and 80s he was amongst the highest paid stars on television alongside other working-class comics such as Frank Carson, Benny Hill, Bernard Manning and Jim Davidson.

But his career tailed off in the 90s and after comeback attempts on shows like I'm A Celebrity, Freddie was plagued by allegations of sex abuse and groping during his career as part of Operation Yewtree, which he said made him consider suicide.

He was never charged with wrongdoing in the 2012 investigation. Three years later, in 2015, he lost a defamation claim against a woman who accused him of groping her when she was 15. Starr denied the allegations and sought damages, but lost the case.

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