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It was nine years ago, and he was wearing spiky heels, PVC trousers and eye-shadow. And, well, he is a high-profile donor to the Labour party. He has been on Newsnight and Question Time flying the flag.

His 5ft 7in frame looked stockier then - in fact, with his big square face, he looked like a giant toddler. Indeed, the day of Lord Levy's arrest, earlier this month, coincided with the publication of an advertisement in which prominent people declared their pride in contributing to Labour party funds - and Izzard was the most prominent. Where were all those luvvies, rock stars and captains of industry who had jumped on the New Labour bandwagon in 1997? Last autumn, in a double act with Neil Kinnock, he spoke about his vision for a federalist Europe at a fringe meeting of the Labour party conference.

So who is this man strolling through London's Soho dressed expensively in women's clothes?

And what is it that makes him want to dress as a woman?

But this week, the two women who have helped him to succeed – brunette musician Sarah Mc Guinness and blonde director Sarah Townsend – were revealed not only to be the same person but also Eddie’s ex-girlfriend.

And at the DVD launch of Believe – the Emmy-nominated film about his life directed by “Townsend” and soundtracked by “Mc Guinness” – Eddie paid tribute to Sarah, 43, for helping him to come to terms with the painful reasons behind his determination to succeed, including his mother’s death from cancer when he was just six.

As he talks, he stares directly at me with pale-blue eyes that have seen the world and wearied a little of it. Why has he not become as disillusioned as the rest? So he wasn't illusioned in 1997 when he went to that famous Downing Street party? Everyone gets disillusioned with Labour governments. It's traditional.'But what does he make of all those glaring omissions from the list of New Labour supporters? And trying to get all Paxman-like on Izzard is like trying to round up bush babies with a cattle prod. In his latest film, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, he stars opposite Uma Thurman.Speaking in a South African nail salon, the comic gave an impassioned speech about why he sees his gender identity as important. We’ve been obsessed for 5,000 years of civilisation and people are still being murdered – in Uganda they were trying to sentence people to death. No other animal is obsessed by our gender – they don’t give a monkeys about our gender. “The confidence that it has given me, coming out 31 years ago in 1985, is immense – but it was a very hard journey. The comedian continued: “I identify somewhat boyish and somewhat girlish. “I don’t know why, it’s just the genetic cards I’ve been given.He said of the nails: “I use it as a badge of identity – I am a transgender guy who came out 31 years ago. “No matter what sex or sexuality, how you self-identity, or who you fancy, matters not one whit – what do you do in life? A lot of people have said very nasty things to me, have fought me in the streets… His comedic style takes the form of rambling, whimsical monologue, and self-referential pantomime.He had a starring role in the television series The Riches as Wayne Malloy and has appeared in films such as Ocean's Twelve, Ocean's Thirteen, Mystery Men, Shadow of the Vampire, The Cat's Meow, Across the Universe, and Valkyrie.I half expected him to be Sir Edward Izzard by now. I ask to what extent he has embraced the Hollywood life; does he have his own therapist yet? 'Regular appointments every nine years.'His father worked overseas as an accountant for BP, which was how Eddie came to be born in Yemen, 44 years ago.

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