The Tinky Winky actor who died last week reportedly ‘froze to death in the street’ after ‘collapsing near Liverpool waterfront’.
52-year-old Simon Shelton Barnes, who lived in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, trained as a ballet dancer and choreographer before taking on the role of Tinky Winky in the BBC children’s programme Tellytubbies.
According to reports, the actor was found at around 7.30am on Wednesday, January 17.
The cause of death is ‘believed to be hypothermia’, reports The Mirror, with a Merseyside Police spokesman saying:
We have confirmed some details about the death of Simon Shelton Barnes.
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.
Very sad to hear #Teletubbies actor Simon Shelton who played Tinky Winky has passed away!
Tubby hugs 😢 pic.twitter.com/1dZM4EfBHI
— CBeebies Grown-Ups (@CBeebiesHQ) January 23, 2018
A ‘close friend and flatmate’ of Simon, Judith Tynan, told the media:
I’m very floored at losing him, he was just the best company. He was just the best person to live with and we got on terribly well.
I’m gobsmacked at losing him. He was charming and handsome and delicate and so lovely to be around.
He wasn’t difficult, he was pleasurable and a delicate man.
Simon was the uncle of The Inbetweeners actress Emily Atack, who paid tribute to: ‘the most talented man you could ever wish to meet’.
Simon’s son Henry also posted a tribute on Facebook which read:
I lost my lovely dad on Wednesday, he was the kindest and most gentle man I knew and I love him more than anything!!!!
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.
Daughter Lydia added:
I love you so much dad. Always have, always will. The most beautiful man in the world. Forever in my heart.
Among the tributes was one from Paul McCartney’s brother, Mike McGear, who said:
So sad to hear about Si. He was a luvly lad..and will be dancing along Uncle Bills bar, knocking Mum&Dad, Milly&Ginny, Mike &Betts drinks off, as we talk! [sic]
Luv to U & kids from me & mine. [sic]
I just want to pay my respects today for the man who was behind the costume of Tinky Winky. I actually can't believe he passed this soon at the age of 52…
Teletubbies is part of what made my childhood so special, and I just want to thank him for that.
RIP, Simon Shelton. pic.twitter.com/S3AGdlappG
— Matt (@KnapfordEngine) January 23, 2018
Tinky Winky’s character caused some controversy back in the day due to the fact the purple creature, perceived to be a male, wore a red handbag.
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.
Simon’s funeral will take place on February 7 at Bedford Crematorium, his family members have asked mourners to ‘wear bright colours’.