Tinky Winky actor dies at 52

Dipsy pays tribute to Tinky Winky

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The actor who played Dipsy in children's TV series Teletubbies today paid tribute to his colleague behind the face of Tinky Winky, who has died aged 52.

John Simmit, who appeared as the green Teletubby in the popular children's series, tweeted 'What a week! RIP Simon Shelton aka Tinky Winky: remembering the many good times. Rest easy' in response to his co-star Simon Shelton Barnes's death.

Barnes, a father-of-three from Ampthill in Bedfordshire, had trained as a ballet dancer and choreographer before taking on the role as the purple Teletubby who carried a 'magic bag' in the BBC show from 1998 to 2001.

His friend Simmit tweeted: 'Lots of messaging between cast and crew as we became a tight bunch over six years on location. We'll give him an appropriate send off in a couple of weeks.' Simmit's message was retweeted by Po actress Pui Fan Lee.

Barnes, whose character was known for carrying the red bag, was the brother-in-law of Poldark actor Robert Daws and uncle of Inbetweeners star Emily Atack. 

He died last Wednesday. Atack, who played Charlotte Hinchcliffe in the E4 comedy, said: 'My wonderful uncle Simon Barnes has been taken from us all so suddenly.'

She wrote in an Instagram post that he was the 'kindest and most talented man you could ever wish to meet', adding: 'Loved by all who knew him, and will be forever.' 

Simmit, Pui and Barnes appeared in the show - whose characters had the catchphrase 'Eh Oh!' - alongside Nikky Smedley, who played Laa Laa.

Barnes was initially reluctant to take on the role that led to him being sent fan mail from adults as well as children and feeling like a member of The Beatles. 

He once said: 'I started my career as a ballet dancer and had just started working as a choreographer. I thought it was a bit of a risky move but it certainly paid off.

'We used to receive a lot of fan mail from kids and parents. I suppose we were a bit like the Beatles or the Take That of children's television.'

Also paying tribute to him was singer Paul McCartney's brother Mike McGear, who is a second cousin of Barnes's former wife, actress Emma Robbins.

Mr McGear wrote on Facebook: 'So sad to hear about Si. He was a lovely lad… and will be dancing along Uncle Bills bar, knocking Mum and Dad, Milly and Ginny, Mike and Betts drinks off, as we talk! Love to you and kids from me and mine.'

And Barnes's son Henry said: '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.'

His daughter Lydia Barnes added: 'I love you so much Dad... always have, always will. The most beautiful man in the world. Forever in my heart.'