Teletubbies' Tinky-Winky actor Simon Shelton dies aged 52

Actor Simon Shelton, 52, who was best known for voicing the character Tinky-Winky in the Teletubbies children's show, died on Jan 17, 2018.
Actor Simon Shelton, 52, who was best known for voicing the character Tinky-Winky in the Teletubbies children's show, died on Jan 17, 2018.PHOTOS: INSTAGRAM/EMILYATACKOFFICIAL, YOUTUBE SCREENGRAB

Actor Simon Shelton, who was known for voicing the character Tinky-Winky in the Teletubbies children's show, died last Wednesday (Jan 17).

Shelton was 52 years old.

His death was confirmed by niece Emily Atack, who posted a photo of her uncle 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. X," she wrote.

Shelton was also known as Simon Barnes.

The British actor played the purple Teletubby character in the BBC children's show from 1998 to 2001, after the original actor Dave Thompson was fired from the show in 1997.

Tinky-Winky was one of the four creatures in the children's show that have televisions on their abdomens. At its peak, the show reached one billion children in more than 120 countries in 45 languages, reported entertainment magazine Variety.

The show had its fair share of controversies, when critics spoke out against the Tinky-Winky character for "modelling the gay lifestyle" by carrying around a red bag.

This led to Thompson being fired, after he admitted to playing the character as gay.

After Shelton took over the role, he had this to say about his own interpretation of the character: "People always ask me if Tinky-Winky is gay. But the character is supposed to be a three-year-old so the question is really quite silly."

According to Variety, the character has since been seen as a gay icon.

Aside from Teletubbies, Mr Shelton was also known for his role as the Dark Knight in children's game show Incredible Games.

Mr Shelton is survived by his wife and three children.