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Teletubbies' Tinky Winky actor Simon Barnes dies

The father of three, who once described being in the Teletubbies as being “a bit like the Beatles or Take That of television”, died four days after celebrating his birthday.

Barnes was a trained ballet dancer and choreographer, but found fame as the tallest Teletubby who always carried a red “magic” handbag.

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He became embroiled in a furore over the sexuality of Tinky Winky, who was accused of being a gay role model who could be morally damaging to children by evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell in 1999. “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.

“People always ask me if Tinky Winky is gay,” Barnes said. “But the character is supposed to be a three-year-old so the question is really quite silly.”

Barnes’ niece and Inbetweeners actor, Emily Atack, paid tribute to him on Instagram: “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.”

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