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Simon Shelton, the actor who played Tinky Winky on the children’s series Teletubbies in the ’90s, has sadly died at the age of 52.

The actor’s niece, Emily Atack, confirmed the news 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 in her tribute.

Simon was cast as the purple, purse-carrying Teletubby after the role’s original actor Dave Thompson was fired in 1997 when he admitted to playing the character as gay.

“People always ask me if Tinky Winky is gay,” Shelton later said about the character. “But the character is supposed to be a 3-year-old, so the question is really quite silly.”

You can see a photo of Simon out of the costume on Instagram.

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