He isn’t the hard work you’d expect, just a bit weird.
There’s none of the playful misbehaviour you see in his act, the sort that has half the country in stitches and the other half reaching for the remote. Freddie Starr is just rather serious. And dark. And confusing: he is riddled with contradictions.
But mostly he’s serious.
He’s lived in Spain for 20 years, so just to get a picture of what life is like out there, I ask who he shares his home with?
His home life is a sore point. I’m soon kicking myself for not having researched deeper in to the Freddie Starr story. His family are a problem in his life. He separated from his wife nine years ago but is only just coming to terms with it. And he hasn’t spoken to his children in a long time.
“They haven’t spoken to me,” he corrects.
“I don’t know, ask them.”
Are they siding with mum, perhaps?
“Probably. I’m not even interested now. I’ve had nine years of it. I just look at myself as a sperm donor. It’s not a nice thing to say but that’s the only sanity I can get... to get through it. They can do what they like. I’ve no intention of speaking to them.”
“My daughter phoned up a few weeks back, ‘Oh dad, it’s nice to get in touch with you after so long’. That lasted a week. I was leaving messages on her mobile, ‘Please phone your dad, let’s bond, let’s get to know each other again, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do’.”
And you heard nothing back?
“No. And that was the final straw. The only time they ever came to me was for money. I felt like [Ted] Bundy out of Married With Children — when he’s sat on the settee giving dollars out.”
He is even less complimentary about his ex-wife.
“She got the inside, I got the f***ing outside. I just thought, ‘Well, have it, I’m not bothered. Have the £2m house and the £1m worth of furniture’.”
He adds quite drily: “You find out what they are made of. They turn like the Exorcist.”
Despite sounding quite bitter he claims to be through all the heartache and is fairly happy.
“But it took me nine years to get over things and get over my children. It’s been a struggle but I’ve managed to do it.”
He largely blames his work for the breakdown of the marriage.
“At one stage I was working 300 days in a year. You can’t be married in this business. You’re away from your kids, you don’t see them growing up, you miss out on all that. You’re trying to do your best for them by being away and you’re in a no-win situation.”
To lighten the load I ask him about Through The Keyhole, which he filmed recently. Is it something he enjoys doing?
“No, I hate it.”
But it’s his second time on the show, which finds Loyd Grossman nosing round homes for a panel of C-list celebs to guess “who lives in a house like this?” Usually more C-list celebs. If he hated doing it, one assumes it is part of the publicity slog he has to undergo to plug his theatre tour?
“No. People say to you, ‘Do this or do that’ and you’ve got a list that you’ve got to do.”
Surely a veteran comic can do what he likes? Do you still get forced into doing things by your agent?
“No. I never get forced in to things. I’ve been in the business too long. I work because I enjoy it.”
Starr has made enough cash that he no longer needs to work but, as cliched as it sounds, he just enjoys doing it. He turns 60 this year and has no plans to quit. Actually, he insists he’s not 60 this year.
“When I did my autobiography with Alan Whiteman he put the wrong age in the book.”
So how old are you then?
Oh, he’s being Freddie Starr... the comedian. The dry-witted, prankster. For the first and last time during our 30-minute chat.
His career kicked off in the early sixties in Liverpool and yes, he did know The Beatles, as he’d jump on stage with them at The Cavern. Was he a fan of theirs?
“A fan of theirs!? You’re joking! They were fans of mine. I used to knock around sometimes with John Lennon. Both of us were rebels. I’ve always been like him really. We were all in the same boat. They were scratching their a***s for a living the same as all of us. We’d drink in the same pubs and meet up with all the lads. It was a good upbringing.
“It’s not like today when you get Pete Waterman and them idiots on the television insulting kids, making them look small. You feel like slapping their faces for them.”
So he isn’t a fan of Pop Idol/Popstars. He gets quite venomous about I’m A Celebrity... as well.
“I’d like to put Ant & Dec on Freddie Starr’s Bushtucker Trial.”
I don’t know what that would entail but it’s getting a bit scary, so I daren’t ask. Perhaps he should go on the next series?
“I’d be having a cr*p right on the camp fire. Burning the hairs on me a**e.”
He’s ranting now about TV in general.
“There’s nothing to watch but paint dry. There are so many people doing houses up. House f***ing Doctor, you’ve got this poncey... they’re all Scottish poofs with kilts on. ‘Oh yes, luvvey you should put this up here’. Oh f*** off and get a life. Those ‘highty tighty’ people... I hate them with a vengeance. I really do.”
Moving on to the subject of new comedians doesn’t stem the flow of bile.
“They’re all sh*te. They’re not funny. Especially the “alternative comedians” he says.
“They really think they’re a cut above us. And they’re sh*te.”
He mellows as he talks about the UK tour which he brings to Nottingham on June 7 but somehow he manages to drift back into a sad, morose mood.
“I don’t take life that seriously anymore. I really never have done. But certain things you have got to take seriously, like your family, your marriage, you do your best and they don’t want to know. But that’s life — I can handle that.”
It’s probably not the time but I wonder how he feels about the love/hate reaction he gets from the public.
“I don’t care what people think. Somebody dislikes me so what? Go away and shoot yourself.”