Benefits Street star Fungi dies from a heart attack aged 50

Benefits Street star Funghi has died today at the age of 50 after a heart attack caused by a suspected drugs overdose.

Funghi, whose real name was James Clarke, became famous on the Channel 4 show about James Turner Street in Birmingham where nine out of ten residents including him and White Dee were on benefits. 

He quit drink and drugs after a stranger who saw him on television paid £11,500 to put him through rehab.

But was unable to beat addiction and found himself on the streets, spending his benefits on downing 10 cans of super-strength cider and lager each day while also taking crack cocaine.

Recently he had moved into a respite home in Birmingham but was found dead in the early hours of this morning and his family today admitted they hadn't seen him for six months.

His ex-partner Donna took to Facebook after his death today and posted: 'Death leaves a heartache no can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal'.

Benefits Street star Funghi has died at the age of 50 after a heart attack caused by a suspected drugs overdose

Benefits Street star Funghi has died at the age of 50 after a heart attack caused by a suspected drugs overdose

Funghi, whose real name was James Clarke, was supported by mother figure White Dee on the show (pictured together) but they later fell out after claimed fame had changed her

Funghi, whose real name was James Clarke, was supported by mother figure White Dee on the show (pictured together) but they later fell out after claimed fame had changed her

She added later: 'The family are very upset, we've only just heard', adding: 'His daughter is in bits.'

Police have said they were called to a property with paramedics at 2.45am today and found Mr Clarke unresponsive and he could not be saved. 

Funghi had spent years battling addiction to drink and crack cocaine

Funghi had spent years battling addiction to drink and crack cocaine

Last year he had a bitter spat with White Dee, who supported him in the show, branding her a 'tramp' after claiming that fame had changed her.

While stars like White Dee made a fortune on TV appearances, Fungi struggled to make ends meet and lost his job as a Big Issue Seller and ended up sleeping rough in Birmingham.

He found love with fellow rough sleeper Kerrie Tarbuck, 40, and the pair lived together in sheltered accommodation in Kings Heath.

The father-of-four was last seen in public in January when he dubbed Universal Credit 'the worst thing in the world' after his monthly payments were cut by more than half.

He said the phased introduction of the all-in-one benefit was causing 'hell' for him and others experiencing hard times.

He had been claiming £500 a month to spend on food and sundries but this was slashed to £229 for reasons which he said have not been explained to him.

Mr Clarke said his drinking habit means he cannot work and said people giving him a 'couple of quid' from time to time now helps him survive.

But he admitted his and his partner spent more than £160-a-month on extra-strength cider.

Benefits Street, which aired in 2014, followed the lives of benefits claimants living on James Turner Street in Winson Green, Birmingham.   

Dividing opinion among viewers and critics, Benefits Street was dubbed 'poverty porn' after it first aired on Channel 4.

Mr Clarke failed to profit from his fame, however, with one of his lowest ebbs coming in October

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