'Teletubbies' Star Simon Shelton Barnes Cause of Death Released

Actor Simon Shelton Barnes, the man who played Teletubbies' Tinky Winky, died from hypothermia and a high level of alcohol in his blood, tests revealed.

“On January 17 at 07.15 hours, Simon was found deceased at the Port of Liverpool Building in a well between the building and street,” coroner Anita Bhardwaj said, according to The Sun. “Toxicological analysis found a high concentration of alcohol. The temperature on the day was three degrees [37 degrees Fahrenheit] and it is more likely than not the combination of the alcohol consumed and the temperature [that] caused his death.”

In January, police confirmed that they had discovered Barne’s body, though they declined to elaborate on the circumstances in which he was found. However, his roommate and close friend, Judith Tynan, told the Daily Mail he died of hypothermia after collapsing on a street in Liverpool.

The father of three was visiting the city from his home in Ampthill, Bedfordshire, when he collapsed in the Mann Island area. With temperatures around 38 degrees Fahrenheit, Tynan said he froze near the waterfront.

“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,” Tynan said at the time. “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.”

Barnes took over the role of Tinky Winky, the 11-foot purple character who always carried a magic red handbag, in 1998 from Dave Thompson, who claimed he was fired after 70 episodes because his “interpretation of the role was not acceptable.”

The actor told BBC in 2008 he had no idea the children's show about four antenna-topped, TV-bellied characters would be a success when he was cast as Tinky Winky.

“I didn't know it would be as big as it was, but I did know as soon as I started working on it that it had something special," he said.
The original Teletubbies series, which ran on the BBC from 1997 to 2001, was watched by around one billion children in more than 120 countries in 45 languages.


“We used to receive a lot of fan mail from kids AND parents,” Shelton told the Daily Mail of his life in the purple costume. “I suppose we were a bit like the Beatles or the Take That of children’s television.”

Barnes, a rained ballet dancer and choreographer, also voiced other children's characters for television, including The Dark Knight in Incredible Games.