The Sun is facing criticism for the headline it ran on Friday following Freddie Starr’s reported death at the age of 76.
The story on the comedian, who is believed to have died at his home in Spain, is the lead piece on the front page of the tabloid, underneath the headline “Freddie Starr Joins His Hamster.”
The line is a reference to the Sun’s infamous 1986 headline, “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster”, but readers and Twitter users have called it out for being “disrespectful” and “insensitive”.
A handful of people defended the headline though, with one writing: “Don’t know about his family, but Freddie would have seen the funny side.”
Others have pointed out that the Sun’s front page has got the reference wrong, as their initial story (which he always denied) claimed Freddie had eaten someone else’s hamster.
Speaking on numerous occasions after the hamster article was published, Freddie claimed the story had been invented by his then-manager Max Clifford.
“I have never eaten or even nibbled a live hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, mouse, shrew, vole or any small mammal,” he said.
When the initial story ran, it seems Freddie did see the funny side as he took part in a photoshoot for The Sun with a hamster bought from a pet store.
The photograph on Friday’s front page, with the small animal sat on the comedian’s shoulder, is from this shoot.
Fans and famous faces have paid tribute to Freddie following his reported death.
Amanda Holden wrote: “His style may have fallen out of comedy fashion & favour-but it’s important to recognise his once huge popularity& fame.”
“He was the funniest man I have ever seen,” Bobby Davro added. “I’m so sad we have lost one of our greatest comedy talents.”