Simon Shelton Barnes (in purple) with his Teletubbies castmates. Picture: BBC
Simon Shelton Barnes (in purple) with his Teletubbies castmates. Picture: BBC

Tinky Winky actor found dead in street

TOUCHING tributes have been paid to the Teletubbies actor who played Tinky Winky following this tragic death.

Simon Shelton Barnes died just four days before his 52nd birthday last week, reports The Sun.

He had trained as a ballet dancer and choreographer before taking on the role of the purple Teletubby known for carrying a magic bag between 1998 and 2001.

Co-star John Simmit, who appeared alongside him as green Tellytubby Dipsy, posted a picture of the actors at the height of their fame.

He wrote: "What a week! RIP Simon Shelton aka Tinky Winky: remembering the many good times. Rest easy."

Simmit later added: "Lots of messaging between cast and crew as we became a tight bunch over six years on location. We'll give him an appropriate send off in a couple of weeks."

The father-of-three was married to actress Emma Robbins, but they had divorced.

He once said being in the Teletubbies was "a bit like the Beatles or Take That of television".

Family friend Judith Tynan, who lived with the actor, wrote on social media: "Simon, I miss your company more than words can say x."

Shortly before his death he posted on his Facebook page: "I'm on the fabulous Wirral and had a fantastic Christmas Day lunch with Jude and her extra ordinary Dad, Ken. Hope you're all Happy and Healthy xxx."

Tributes poured in for the man behind the beloved handbag-carrying character after news of his death broke.

His daughter posted a heartbroken message to Facebook on January 21.

She wrote: "I love you so much Dad ... always have, always will. The most beautiful man in the world."

Paul McCartney's brother, Mike McGear, also paid tribute to the actor. The second cousin of Barnes' former wife, Emma Robbins, wrote he was "a luvly lad".

The actor's 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!!!!

"I always used to be embarrassed as a child that he was a dancer and an actor but now I couldn't be more proud! He is in a better place now and I know he wouldn't want me to be sad, so I'm going to live my life the way he would want me to."

Tinky Winky was the largest and oldest of the group of Teletubbies.

He was purple and has a triangular antenna on his head and almost always seen carrying a red bag.

Barnes was not the first to play the popular character - the original actor Dave Thompson left the show in 1997 after being told his "interpretation of the role was not acceptable".

Barnes' niece, Emily Atack, posted a black and white picture of the actor on Instagram and wrote: "My wonderful uncle Simon Barnes has been taken away from us all so suddenly.

"The kindest and most talented man you could ever wish to meet. Loved by all who knew him and will be forever."

The Teletubbies were a huge hit after first airing in the UK on March 31, 1997. The show was so successful it even had a number one hit in the UK charts in 1997.


This story was originally published in The Sun and is reprinted with permission.

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