The actor who played Tinky Winky, the handbag-carrying Tellytubby in the BBC children’s series, has died just four days after his 52nd birthday.
Father-of-three Simon Shelton Barnes, who trained as a ballet dancer and choreographer, was the brother-in-law of Poldark actor Robert Daws and the uncle of Inbetweeners actress Emily Atack.
He took over the role of Tinky Winky in 1997 after the original actor Dave Thompson was sacked.
He once said that being in the Tellytubbies was ‘a bit like the Beatles or Take That of television’, adding: ‘We used to receive a lot of fan mail from children and parents.’
Simon is understood to have died while visiting Merseyside over Christmas.
At the time he wrote on his Facebook page: ‘I’m on the fabulous Wirral and had a fantastic Christmas Day lunch with Jude and her extraordinary Dad, Ken. Hope you’re all Happy and Healthy xxx.’
This week his eldest son Henry posted on Facebook: ‘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.’