TMZ reports that Simon Shelton Barnes, the actor who played “Tinky Winky” on the TV show “Teletubbies” has died at the age of 52.

According to the Daily Mail, a friend said that Barnes died of hypothermia after collapsing in Liverpool.


Shelton got the role after the original Tinky Winky was fired in 1997, and remained in that role through 2001.

TMZ reports that Tinky Winky was known for being the “gay teletubby,” an attribute given to him by televangelist Jerry Falwell.

Falwell wrote:

“He is purple — the gay pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle — the gay pride symbol.”

Not to mention, there was Tinky Winky’s love of handbags. According to the Daily Mail, Barnes was often asked if his character on the children’s program was gay.

Barnes said:

“People always ask me if Tinky Winky is gay. But the character is supposed to be a three-year-old so the question is really quite silly.”


Nikky Smedley, who played “Laa Laa” agreed with Barnes regarding the alleged gay themes.

According to the Daily Mail, she said:

“I think it’s embarrassing for the people who said it. What kind of person can take the obvious innocence and turn it into something else? We were hardly sexual beings.”

British actress, Emily Atack, Barnes’s niece, posted an announcement of his death on her Instagram account.

She wrote:

My wonderful uncle Simon Barnes has been taken 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.

Barnes is survived by his three children, according to The Sun.

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