The Teletubbies was a children’s morning television show, that was beloved by youngsters worldwide, and even gained a huge following from adults. The lovable creatures were notable for their bright colours, and playful language. But who were the people who brought the quirky creatures Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po to life?
Tinky Winky is the first Teletubby. He is the largest of the clan, and is covered in bright purple, with a signature triangular antenna on his head. He is notable for the handbag he always carries, sending a positive message, but which caused a stir.
Dipsy (played by John Simmit) is the second Teletubby. He is green and is named “Dipsy” because his antenna resembles a dipstick. He likes to wear his black and white furry top hat. He represents cultural equality, as his face is darker than the others, the producers stated that he was black.
Laa-Laa (played by Nikky Smedley) is the third Teletubby. She is sunflower yellow, and can be identified by her curly antenna. She loves to sing and dance. Her favorite object is a bouncy, orange ball, which is almost as big as she is. Dancer Nikky, 49, got the role of Laa-Laa after replying to a newspaper ad. While the Teletubbies always looked like they were having a grand old time, life in the suit was difficult, Nikky revealed. The actors worked 11-hour days and the suits were heavy and hot.
Po (played by Pui Fan Lee) is the fourth Teletubby in the bunch. She is the smallest and youngest of the Teletubbies, and is rosy red, with an antenna shaped like a stick used for blowing soap bubbles. Her favourite object is her scooter. Now that they show has ended, and the cast has revealed themselves, we wonder who the faces are behind the adorable suits, and what they are doing now. Let us find out…..
Laa Laa Now
Since the show’s conclusion, Nikky’s contributed to the UK children’s TV show Boohbah and choreographed another of the BBC’s hit children shows, In the Night Garden.
Dancer Nikky Smedley, 49, got the role of Laa Laa after replying to a newspaper advert.She also famously spoke out in 2012 to deny claims that the show was laced with gay innuendo. Smedley said: ‘I think it’s embarrassing for the people who said it. What kind of person can take the obvious innocence and turn it into something else? We were hardly sexual beings.’
John spoke of life after the show: ‘I was a stand-up before I became Dipsy so I carried on doing that when the series came to an end five years ago,’ he said at the show’s ten year anniversary celebrations. ‘The stand-up circuit is pretty close-knit so people got to know that I was Dipsy – but I never mentioned it on stage.’
Actress Pui Fan Lee, 40, played the cute, red Po. When the show ended 12 years ago, the British-Chinese actress moved on to hosting CBeebies, the BBC’s channel for children aged six and under. Today, she presents Show Me, Show Me, which is aimed at pre-school children. ‘When we were in the show it was weird because we never dreamed anyone would be the slightest bit interested in us. But at the height of our popularity there were photographers jumping out of bushes.’
Tinky Winky Now
Simon Shelton Barnes trained as a ballet dancer and choreographer.’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,’ he once told The Sun Newspaper in the UK. ‘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.’
A Sad Loss
Sadly, Simon recently died of unknown causes, but was found on the street. His fellow cast members have reached out to pay their respects to their friend and television show buddy.’There have been 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.’ His daughter also had a very poignant message to share to the world….
Daughter Finally Speaks Out
His daughter told MailOnline: ‘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. She went on to admit:’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.’ But what did she think of his work as a kids character? Was that to blame?
Tinky Winky Gone
She said the Teletubbies was his ‘pièce de résistance’ and they ‘laughed a lot about it because it was silly and he used to tell me that costume weighed 60lbs’. Ms Tynan continued: ‘It was a big to-do to wear it because it was just a big thing, but it made him – it made his life and put him on the map. Barnes said: ‘I love you so much dad. Always have, always will. The most beautiful man in the world. Forever in my heart.’
Reason For Death
The Teletubbies actor, who was found ‘frozen to death’ in the street in Liverpool near his home, died of hypothermia. The local coroners office has ordered further streets to determine the circumstances of the father-of-three’s death.