1990s TV favourite Tinky-Winky has been found dead in a bed-sit in Hastings, Sussex. His body was discovered surrounded by empty tequila bottles and a variety of illegal and prescription drugs. The television had still not been switched off and in the video machine was a tape of the popular TV programme that was cancelled five years ago precipitating Tinky Winky’s catastrophic descent into depression and alcoholism.
As one of the four Tellytubbies who recorded over three hundred and fifty programmes during their domination of children’s TV in the late 1990s, Tinky Winky was one of the biggest TV stars in the country. Their 1997 song ‘Tellytubbies Say Eh-oh’ reached number one, selling over a million copies, while their catchphrases ‘Eh-oh Po!’ and ‘Run Away!’ spoke for a whole new generation.
However behind the scenes the pressures of their superstardom was taking it’s toll. After he was was introduced to cocaine by Mrs Goggins from Postman Pat, Tinky Winky’s behaviour became increasingly erratic. Following an assault upon La-La outside a lap-dancing club in London, the BBC finally decided it could no longer sustain the myth of the Tellytubbies as the innocent toddler’s friends, and the show was suddenly pulled in 2001.
Successive attempts at comebacks had fizzled out, but while the other three Tellytubbies had had limited success in their subsequent careers as after dinner speakers, Tinky Winky took the news particularly badly. In 2004 he was arrested for drink-driving, telling his arresting officer he was on his way ‘to run over the fucking controller of BBC-1.’ He was last seen alive last Tuesday by a pizza delivery man.
Plans for yet another Tellytubbies comeback tour have been put on hold following the news. Promoters have approached Tilly from Tots TV about the possibility of her stepping into the breach, although it is unclear whether any remaining Tellytubby fans would be able to accept a Tot in a role that Tinky Winky had made very much his own.
Speaking from his home in Bray, Berkshire, fellow ex-Tellytubby Dipsy was overcome with emotion at the news. ‘I am shocked and saddened. I’ve not spoken to the other guys, but I know they will feel the same way. Tinky Winky was a one-off, a huge talent, a show-business giant, a genius. I only hope people will try to remember him at his peak, waving at the camera saying ‘Eh-oh!’, and not think about him sitting in his flat watching hard-core pornography while out of his head on crack cocaine.’