Freddie Starr, the British comedian best known for his work on television from the 1970s until the 1990s, has been found dead aged 76.
The controversial star, who last appeared on British television in the 2011 incarnation of I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here, became infamous in 1986 thanks to a story about a hamster.
On March 13, 1986, The Sun newspaper ran a headline which literally said 'Freddie Starr ate my hamster', which may or may not be one of the strangest headlines ever to feature on the front cover of a tabloid newspaper.
Picture: The Sun
According to the story, Starr had been staying at the home of Vince McCaffrey in Birchwood, Cheshire.
When he returned home late one night after a stand-up performance in Manchester, he asked McCaffrey's girlfriend, Lea La Salle, if he could have a sandwich.
After she refused to make him the snack she claimed that he grabbed her pet hamster, put it between two slices of bread and reportedly ate the small creature.
Starr had always denied the legitimacy of the story, claiming in his 2010 autobiography that:
I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any other small mammal.
Kelvin McKenzie, who was The Sun's editor at the time, claimed that he heard the story in a Fleet Street bar from a friend of La Salle's and decided to run the story as "the Berlin Wall and various other wars seemed less interesting".
Kelvin MacKenzie - the editor behind the infamous headline 'Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster' - explains how he came a… https://t.co/vDT52vsceG
— Good Morning Britain (@Good Morning Britain)
Max Clifford, who was Starr's publicist in this period, told the Leveson Inquiry in 2012 that he allowed The Sun to run the story in the hope that it would generate some publicity for Starr's upcoming UK tour.
In light of his passing, the hamster story has once again become a national talking point, with many jokes and new headlines cropping up about the alleged sandwich.
Tomorrow's front page: Freddie Starr joins his hamster. RIP our favourite pet-eating comedian… https://t.co/30IRGoOVKz