Tinky Winky actor Simon Barnes has died aged 52. The Teletubbies star's niece, Inbetweeners actress Emily Atack, announced the sad news on Instagram, sharing a black and white portrait of Simon on Saturday which she captioned: "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. X."
Simon's children have also paid tribute, with his daughter posting a heartbroken message to Facebook on 21 January. She wrote: "I love you so much Dad... always have, always will. The most beautiful man in the world." The actor's son Henry said: "I lost my lovely dad on Wednesday, he was the kindest and most gentle man I knew and I love him more than anything!!!!
Dipsy and Tinky Winky on Lorraine
"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."
The dad-of-three, who was a ballet dancer, had previously spoken about his role as Tinky Winky, saying that the Teletubbies "were a bit like the Beatles". "I started my career as a ballet dancer and had just started working as a choreographer," he said. "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."