'Teletubbies' actor Simon Shelton Barnes dead at 52

Simon Shelton Barnes, a British actor best known for his role as purple Teletubby Tinky Winky, has died at the age of 52.

Barnes’ niece, "Inbetweeners" actress Emily Atack, shared the news of her uncle’s passing 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”

The actor was also honored on the official “Teletubbies” Twitter page.

“Very sad to hear that actor Simon Shelton, who played Tinky Winky in the late ['90s], has sadly passed away. Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Big hugs.”

According to the BBC, Barnes died on Jan. 17.

Barnes, a trained ballet dancer and choreographer, joined the cast of the "Teletubbies" in 1998. He took over the role as the Tinky Winky after the original actor was fired. Barnes' Teletubby became famous for carrying the show's magic bag until the series ended in 2001.

Actor John Simmit, who starred with Barnes as the green Teletubby, Dipsy, paid his respects to Barnes on Twitter.

“What a week! RIP Simon Shelton aka Tinky Winky: remembering the many good times,” he wrote. “Rest easy."

In a 2008 interview with the BBC, Barnes said he was surprised by the success of “Teletubbies.”

“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,” Barnes said.

According to the BBC, the original “Teletubbies” was syndicated around the world in more than 120 countries in 45 languages.

Barnes is survived by his three children and his wife Emma Robbins.

You can find Morgan M. Evans on Twitter @themizfactor.