I'm A Celebrity star Emily Atack has spoken on the show about how she had a difficult time before entering the series, referencing the beginning of the year - when she parted ways with her long-term boyfriend. But sadly, the actress also suffered a family tragedy in January, when her uncle, actor Simon Shelton Barnes, passed away suddenly. Taking to social media to announce the news, she wrote: "My wonderful uncle Simon Barnes has been taken from us so suddenly. The kindest and most talented man you could ever wish to meet. Loved by all who knew him, and will be forever."
Simon on the set of Teletubbies in 1997. Image: Rex
Simon was well known for playing the role of Tinky Winky in children's series The Teletubbies between 1998 and 2001, and had moved from London to Liverpool at the time of his death. A police spokesperson said: "We were called to the Mann Island area of Liverpool on January 17 at about 7.30 in the morning to reports of a man being found deceased. There are no suspicious circumstances so anything else around this tragedy we are referring to the coroners."
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The CBeebies official Twitter account tweeted at the time: "Very sad to hear #Teletubbies actor Simon Shelton who played Tinky Winky has passed away! Tubby hugs," with a crying emoji. His co-star John Summit, who played Dipsy, added: "What a week! RIP Simon Shelton aka Tinky Winky: remembering the many good times. Rest easy."
Emily posted a further tribute to her uncle after his funeral in February, writing: "Yesterday we celebrated the incredible life of my uncle Simon. The amount you achieved in your short time will be forever remembered. Your talent, kindness and warmth forever missed, and your love forever in our hearts." Simon was also the brother-in-law of Poldark actor Robert Dawes, who played Dr Choake in the series. He said at the time: "It’s been a very tough week and we are all trying to look after the family as best we can."
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