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Is Teletubby Tinky-Winky queer? Sam Smith certainly seems to think so

Reiss Smith November 7, 2019
Tinky Winky in a tutu

According to Sam Smith, Tinky Winky is queer. (BBC)

Move over Colleen Rooney, there’s a new detective in town. Sam Smith has confirmed once and for all what millennial gays grew up suspecting: that Teletubby Tinky-Winky is queer.

The non-binary singer posted cold, hard proof of Tinky-Winky’s queerness to their Instagram, sharing an illustration of the purple Teletubby in heels, a tutu and a full beat.

“TINKIE WINKIE… I KNEW YOU WERE QUEER,” they wrote, in what has already been hailed (by us) the best use of an ellipsis since “It’s… Rebekah Vardy’s account”.


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Fans were quick to praise Smith’s cunning, leaving comments including “Omg living”, “Omg crying”, and “We all were right.”

“I thought Tinky-Winky was girl or at least a drag queen always grabbing that purse knowing there’s not a damn thing in it,” wrote one fan, with another offering: “Twinkie wink.”

Is Tinky-Winky queer?

Since the Teletubbies sissied onto screens in March 1997, Tinky-Winky’s identity has been debated by fans and critics alike.

Consider the evidence offered by the evangelical preacher Jerry Falwell: “He is purple: the gay-pride colour, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle: the gay-pride symbol.”

Falwell neglected to mention Tinky-Winky’s signature red handbag, presumably because he was busy fuming over his belief that “role modelling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children”.

Until Smith’s intervention, the closest we had come to a definitive answer on Tinky-Winky’s identity came from the actor who played him, Simon Barnes.

“People always ask me if Tinky-Winky is gay,” Barnes said. “But the character is supposed to be a three-year-old so the question is really quite silly.”

Barnes, who passed away in 2018, took over the roles of Tinky-Winky in 1997 after his processor, Dave Thompson, was fired because his “interpretation of the role was not acceptable”.

The BBC has never acknowledged what about the interpretation was unacceptable, or even that the role was recast.

“We are not allowed to say,” a spokesperson said at the time. “As far as we are concerned they are real.”

More: Queer, Sam Smith, teletubbies, tinky winky

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