An actor who played one of the characters in the children’s TV show “Teletubbies” has died. The AP reports that British actor Simon Shelton Barnes, who played Tinky Winky, was found dead in Liverpool on Jan. 17. He was 52.
The Liverpool Coroner’s Office said today it is investigating Barnes’ death, but police said it was not suspicious.
“Barnes played one of four gentle, brightly colored characters in the toddler-centric show between 1998 and 2001. ‘Teletubbies’ became such a global hit that Barnes once called it The Beatles of children’s television,” the AP reports.
Barnes’ Tinky Winky became the focus of controversy in 1999 after evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell cited the character’s purple color, triangle antenna and handbag, declaring that the character was gay.
“The BBC, which broadcast the show, said at the time that ‘as far as we are concerned Tinky Winky is simply a sweet, technological baby with a magic bag,'” the AP reports.