Simon Barnes who played Tinky Winky in the Teletubbies dies aged 52

The actor who portrayed Tinky Winky in children’s series Teletubbies, Simon Barnes, has died aged 52.

Barnes, a father of three, died four days after celebrating his birthday.

He described being in the Teletubbies as “a bit like the Beatles or Take That of television.”

The trained ballet dancer and choreographer portrayed Tinky Winky in the hit series.

His character always carried a red magic handbag.

The actor became embroiled in a controversy over the character’s sexual orientation and whether Tinky Winky was a gay icon.

Evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell back in 1999 accused the character of being morally damaging to children.

“He is purple – the gay-pride colour; and his antenna is shaped like a triangle – the gay-pride symbol,” he wrote in the National Liberty Journal in an article called ‘Parents Alert’.

He said that there were “subtle deceptions” in the series and wrote: “As a Christian I feel that role modelling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children.”

“People always ask me if Tinky Winky is gay,” Barnes replied to the controversy.

“But the character is supposed to be a three-year-old so the question is really quite silly.”

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