Teletubbies actor who played Tinky Winky dies aged 52

Joann Johnston
January 23, 2018

The man who played Teletubbies' Tinky Winky has died at 52.

Simon Shelton Barnes, who lived in the market town of Ampthill, Bedfordshire, passed away just four days after his 52nd birthday.

'My wonderful uncle Simon Barnes has been taken from us all so suddenly, ' she wrote on Instagram.

'The kindest and most talented man you could ever wish to meet.

The father-of-three was also a trained ballet dancer and choreographer, the Independent reported, adding that he had been reluctant initially to play the Teletubbies character.

Shelton played the loveable creature until the show ended in 2001.

Shelton, who was also known as Simon Barnes, began playing the beloved character in 1997 after Dave Thompson was replaced over what he claims was his interpretation of the role, according to The Guardian.

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Actor John Simmit, who stared with Barnes as the green Teletubby, Dipsy, paid his respects to Barnes on Twitter.

"It was actually pretty lovely, because we filmed outside in the middle of handsome countryside for pretty much all summer".

Tinky Winky's sexuality was a hot topic when the show first aired, with American televangelist Jerry Falwell alleging the character was a "homosexual role model" in 1999.

While Barnes' son Henry wrote: "I lost my lovely dad on Wednesday, he was the kindest and most gentle man I knew and I love him more than anything".

Another tribute came from the photographer Mike McGear, who is the brother of Paul McCartney and second cousin to Barnes' ex-wife, Emma. I thought it was a bit of a risky move but it certainly paid off.

The Teletubbies were a huge hit after airing on March 31, 1997 on BBC2.

Simon's funeral is set to take place at Bedford Crematorium on 7 February and relatives have asked mourners to "wear bright colours".

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