Freddie Starr fans to say farewell at comedian’s funeral

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Comedian Freddie Starr is to be laid to rest in Merseyside later, a month after his death at the age of 76.

Fans have been invited to listen to the funeral service on speakers outside Prescot Parish Church from 13:00 BST.

Starr’s coffin has the words “Liverpool legend” engraved on one side and “Return to sender” on the other.

Starr often performed as an Elvis Presley impersonator, and Return to Sender was one of the songs he covered on his 1981 album Spirit of Elvis.

There were fears the comedian and singer could have a pauper’s funeral in Spain, where he lived at the end of his life, until a UK funeral director stepped in.

Sheffield-based undertaker Michael Fogg offered to help after seeing reports about the entertainer’s possible resting place.

“I saw on social media that he was going to have a pauper’s funeral in Spain,” Mr Fogg told BBC News. “I couldn’t believe it to be truthful with you, and thought, this is going to be wrong.”

Starr’s family saw a post Mr Fogg put on social media, and accepted his offer to make and pay for the necessary arrangements.

“I just wanted him to have a proper funeral. I enjoyed watching him on TV. He made me laugh. And anybody who can make an undertaker laugh must be a bloody good comedian.”

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Media captionA look back at Freddie Starr’s life in the spotlight

Mr Fogg has covered the £20,000 cost of repatriating Starr’s body and organising the service in Prescot. Starr grew up in nearby Huyton and will be buried next to his mother.

“The main thing is that Freddie Starr has a send-off that he deserves, and the fans of Freddie Starr can also grieve properly for somebody who’s passed away,” Mr Fogg said. “And to grieve you need a funeral. So that’s what he’s having.”

Family members are expected to attend the funeral. Starr was married four times and had six children.

Fans have been asked to wear a red tie or a red rose to honour his famous Teddy Boy jacket.

After the entertainer died, fellow comic 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 rose to prominence in the early 1970s after appearing on the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks. He became a fixture on TV in the 70s and 80s, and famously featured in The Sun newspaper’s “Freddie Starr ate my hamster” headline in 1986.

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

In 2015, he lost a defamation claim against an accuser who said he groped her when she was 15. Starr had denied the claims and sought damages for alleged slander and libel.

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.

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