THE  DAVID THOMPSON  PHENOMENON

Teletubby bye-byes

Dave Thompson is a writer, an actor, a comedian and, according to Time Out, 'the weirdest dude on the face of the earth'. He's written for the likes of Harry Hill and Boothby Graffoe, as well as preparing all his own stand-up material. The numerous TV shows he's appeared in include Harry Hill's TV Burp, Time Gentlemen Please, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and, in common with everyone else who has an Equity card in their wallet, Casualty and The Bill. He appeared in the film Maybe Baby as a stand-up comedian called Dave, a part that Ben Elton wrote specially for him as he was so impressed with Dave's zany live comedy. (The executive producer of Maybe Baby was a certain David M. Thompson, proving that the world of David Thompsons is a small one.) A fanatical collector and sender of postcards, Dave Thompson has even commissioned a postcard of his own flat.

But what Dave Thompson is perhaps most famous for is being dismissed from Teletubbies, the BBC television series that became a cult hit among students and is also fairly popular among its supposed target audience of pre-school children. Dave played Tinky Winky, the tall purple member of the group of four unslim characters with built-in TV screens who inhabit a disturbingly brightly lit landscape. He was sacked after having 'creative differences' with the programme's producers. His reaction was famously bitter: 'I was always the one to test out the limitations of the costume. I was the first to fall off my chair and roll over. I took all the risks.'

So what exactly was it that led to his enforced departure? The most popular rumour is that Dave was given his marching orders for making Tinky Winky discernibly homosexual. Although always denied by the BBC, the theory that the purple one is gay has become widespread - even Homer Simpson has alluded to it - but it is doubtful that this was the real reason for the producers forcing Dave to abandon the Tinky Winky suit. When the programme was first broadcast in the USA, Jerry Falwell, America's leading anti-Teletubbies campaigner, accused Tinky Winky of 'modelling the gay lifestyle', his evidence being that the character, though apparently male, carries a handbag, is purple - 'the gay-pride colour' - and his antenna is 'shaped like a triangle - the gay-pride symbol'. Whatever you make of Falwell's reasoning (isn't pink 'the gay-pride colour'?), it clearly wasn't Dave's performance that made him think Tinky Winky is the sort of teletubby who hangs out at a particular kind of bar.

Dave Thompson
His own website, including a list of credits, photos of him in and out of the Tinky Winky costume, and examples of Dave's alleged 'art'

Teletubbies
The official BBC site, so don't expect anything about Dave getting sacked or Tinky Winky's sexuality