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23/01/2018 11:54 GMT | Updated 23/01/2018 15:08 GMT

'Teletubbies' Tinky Winky Actor Simon Shelton Barnes Dies, Aged 52

His niece, actress Emily Atack, has paid tribute.

Simon Shelton Barnes, the actor who played Tinky Winky in classic children’s show ‘Teletubbies’, has died at the age of 52.

The father-of-three from Bedfordshire died on 17 January, according to the BBC

Rex/Shutterstock
Simon played Tinky Winky in 'Teletubbies'

Simon was also the brother-in-law of ‘Poldark’ actor Robert Daws and the uncle of ‘The Inbetweeners’ actress Emily Atack. 

Emily posted a tribute to her uncle on Instagram, which read: “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.”

As reported by The Independent, Simon’s son Henry also posted a tribute on Facebook, writing: “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.”

During the original series, which ran from 1997 to 2001, Simon wore the Tinky Winky suit, though he was not the first person to play the purple character. 

Comedian Dave Thompson was let go from the role early into the show, amid claims bosses didn’t like how he was playing the character as gay.

BBC
'Teletubbies' originally aired from 1997 to 2001, but was revived in 2015

Simon previously admitted he was initially reluctant to take on the part, saying: “I started my career as a ballet dancer and had just started working as a choreographer. I thought it was a bit of a risky move but it certainly paid off.

“We used to receive a lot of fan mail from kids and parents. I suppose we were a bit like the Beatles or the Take That of children’s television.”

Simon’s funeral will take place on the 7 February at the Bedford Crematorium, and his family has asked attendees to “wear bright colours” in tribute.  

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