04:32PM, Friday 10 May 2019
Freddie Starr pictured attending 92-year-old Winnie Stark's birthday in 1978.
Comedian and entertainer Freddie Starr has reportedly died aged 76.
While he was best known for his television work in the 1970s on programmes like The Freddie Starr show, as well as the notorious ‘Freddie Starr ate my hamster’ headline in the Sun in 1986, he also spent many years in the Royal Borough.
He lived in a mansion in West End, Waltham St Lawrence, where he kept horses, and ran a restaurant, Characters, in Littlewick Green before he converted it into a hotel called Crystals.
Characters, in Bath Road, opened in July 1988 and was frequented by high profile diners including Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink.
An Advertiser report on the restaurant from 1989 stated that it ‘specialises in French cuisine… no hamsters.'
As well as running his restaurant business, Starr was active in the community. In June 1987 he attended a school fair at Claires Court school, arriving by helicopter and cutting the ribbon on the ceremony.
In December 1991, Starr was the first person to report a fire, which turned out to be arson, at the Farm Shop in Bath Road, Twyford, after he spotted smoke while driving past.
Firefighters were unable to save the building, and thousands of pounds worth of produce was destroyed.
An eyewitness told the Advertiser at the time: “He was a customer and stayed a considerable amount of time to help.”
In 1992 Starr became a hotelier when he converted Characters into a hotel, renaming it to Crystals.
Well known for his ‘zany’ sense of humour, he joked ‘We’ve got two hamsters at home, used to be six’ during a sit-down interview with a ‘Tiser reporter.
The hamster headline claims were proven untrue, and Starr was a vegetarian, but he still often enjoyed cracking jokes about it.
As well as boasting a swimming pool, Starr’s Waltham St Lawrence home also contained a stable, and the comic was enthusiastic about his horse racing,
In April 1994, his horse Miinnehoma won the Grand National. He watched the race at home with his family.
Speaking at the time, he said: “It’s just the best feeling ever.
“As it came towards the end we were on all fours and were about three feet away from the television. When he went over the last fence we were shouting and screaming.”
“After something like this you just feel numb."