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British actor Simon Shelton Barnes, who played Tinky Winky in Teletubbies, died at the age of 52.

The actor, who played the purple Teletubby known for carrying a handbag, died on Jan 17, the BBC cited Barnes’ son as saying in a report on Tuesday (Jan 23).

The father-of-three was also a trained ballet dancer and choreographer, the Independent reported, adding that he had been reluctant initially to play the Teletubbies character.

Barnes played the purple Teletubby and took the role in 1997.

In an interview with the BBC in 2008, the actor said he had no idea that the show would get as big as it did.

“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 told the BBC.

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