Teletubbies scandals as the series turns 25 – Death of Tinky Winky, lesbian sex scene and dismissal

The hit children’s TV show Teletubbies first aired on March 31, 1997 and delighted over a billion children worldwide, and the four colorful aliens even won two BAFTAs.

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Watch the bizarre Teletubbies intro

The Teletubbies may be one of the most successful children’s television shows, but shocking scandals have crossed the history of the four colorful aliens – Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po.

The quartet first appeared on our screens on March 31, 1997, and wowed young viewers with their gibberish talk, belly-tucked TV screens, and unique antenna sticking out of their heads, making them identifiable.

Since Teletubbies’ inception 25 years ago, it has entertained over a billion children worldwide and delighted generations of children who have been fascinated by the four colorful characters who live in Tubbyland with their Noo-vacuum cleaner. Noo, eat Tubby Custard and Tubby Toast, and are watched over by a cute Sun Baby.

The show has been entertaining generations of children since 1997

The show has been translated into 45 different languages ​​and has won numerous awards, including two BAFTAs, and 42 Teletubbies toys are sold every minute. .

But behind the scenes, dark secrets lingered that marred the show’s innocence, with stories of cast members being fired from the show, as well as a tragic death.

Here we take a look at what happened to the actors who played the original Teletubbies…

The Tragedy of Tinky Winky

Tinky Winky was the most controversial of the Teletubbies



The biggest – and apparently oldest Teletubby – was the purple-colored Tinky Winky, who unfortunately caused the most controversy during his tenure on the children’s TV show.

Some disgruntled viewers claimed the character was gay, as he carried a red purse, with an American evangelist warning parents that the adorable purple alien was “the color of gay pride”, while his triangular antenna was the “gay pride symbol”.

Original Tinky Winky actor Dave Thompson left the show after the first few episodes following “creative differences”, and it was later reported that the show’s production company had “implied” that the character was gay.

Simon Shelton played Tinky Winky


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The actor, seen filming here in 1997, sadly passed away in 2018



Dave said he was “proud” of his time in the role and went on to have a successful acting career.

He was replaced by Simon Shelton, who was a trained ballet dancer and choreographer.

Simon said he received fan mail from children and parents, and said speculation about Tinky Winky’s sexual orientation was “really pretty silly”.

Sadly, he passed away from hypothermia in January 2018 at the age of just 52.


Dipsy was the second oldest Teletubby

The bright green Teletuubby was a favorite with younger viewers and was played by comedian John Simmit, who said his performance was influenced by a reggae track.

“Dipsy would say ‘Papa Come Papa Come To Po,’ which was actually my version of a classic reggae rhythm track called The Whip,” he explained.

“And I would slip Jamaican dance moves, a Bogle there and a Tatty here. People spotted my little nod to my culture and I’m proud of it,” he shared.

John Simmit was the man behind Dipsy



John also said wearing the heavy suits for hours was an unpleasant experience and had to wear special underwear to soak up all the sweat.

“When we were out of suits, you had to turn your face the other way and talk to us from a distance because we could and were so sweaty you could wring us out. Huge props to our dressers for supporting us! he joked.

Laa-Laa was one of the most beloved Teletubbies


The yellow alien with the curly antenna is the adorable Laa-Laa, the second youngest of the Teletubbies.

The character was portrayed by trained dancer Nikky Smedley, who landed the role after responding to a newspaper ad asking for actors to star in a new children’s TV show.

She was one of the original cast members to remain in the role for the show’s first four-year run.

Nikky previously explained that the hot and heavy suits were a nightmare, as they had to be inside for up to 11 hours a day.

She left the show and started working for Ragdoll Productions, and participated in the choreography of other successful children’s shows, including In The Night Garden.

The show has been delighting viewers young and old for 25 years


The baby of the Teletubbies family was the red alien Po, who was best known for her circular shaped antenna, and her love of bubbles and her most prized possession – her scooter.

Actress Pui Fan Lee landed the role of Po shortly after leaving drama school, and she was the star of the iconic photo taken during a break in filming, showing her lying on the fake grass while still dressed as her character.

Pui was a successful actress as well as an alter ego where she dressed up as Teletubby and made headlines when she starred in lesbian sex scenes for Channel 4’s Metrosexuality show.

Pui Fan Lee played Po in the Teletubbies

Po is the cutest – and youngest – member of the alien crew

“Yes, I was Po, but I’m an actress and the role sounded interesting. I didn’t take on the lesbian role to be deliberately controversial,” she explained.

Pui returned to children’s television and was one of the presenters of the popular CBeebies series Sow Me, Show Me, alongside Chris Jarvis.

She also had a small role in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason in 2004, as well as 28 Weeks Later, where she played a zombie called Helen.

Pui also played Dr. Fremantle in EastEnders in 2019, and his scenes involved the autism diagnosis of Mick and Linda Carter’s son, Ollie.

sun baby

Sun Baby was played by Jess Smith



The original Sun Baby was played by Jess Smith, who was hired by producers after being weighed in at the hospital.

The adorable tot would appear at the start of each episode to wake up the Teletubbies, and would also appear at the end to mark the sunset.

She was the sun face of the Teletubbies until 2001



Jess played Sun Baby from 1997 to 2001, and she was replaced by a new baby called Berry when the series relaunched in 2015.

She revealed that to make her laugh and scream, her father was in front of her playing with toys, while she was filmed.

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