Only Fools And Horses star John Challis dies aged 79

Only Fools And Horses star John Challis has died of cancer at the age of 79, his family has said.

He was best known for his portrayal of the unscrupulous used car dealer Boycie on the beloved sitcom, alongside Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst.

He canceled a 30-date speaking tour earlier this month after just one appearance due to health concerns.

A statement from his family to the PA News Agency said: “It is with a heavy heart that we bring you such sad news.” Our dear friend and yours, John Challis, passed away peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer.

“He will always be loved for being ‘Boycied’ and leaves a great legacy of work that will continue to bring fun and smiles for many years to come.

John Challis with Sue Holderness, who played his wife Marlene in Only Fools And Horses (PA)

“Please respect the privacy of John’s family and friends at this difficult time, and rest assured that in the future there will be an opportunity to celebrate John’s life – when everyone is welcome.”

Boycie, a laughing cigar-smoking businessman, was married to the fiery Marlene – played by Sue Holderness – and regularly ran into Sir David’s Del Boy.

Holderness said in a statement: “Marlene without Boycie – it’s unthinkable. John Challis has been my partner on screen and on stage for 36 years and my beloved friend. RIP darling John. I will miss you every day.

Challis was born in Bristol but moved to South East London when he was one year old.

He attended Ottershaw Public School near Woking, Surrey, and worked as a trainee real estate agent before becoming a professional actor.

The leading roles included the gangster drama Big Breadwinner Hog in 1969 and a recurring role in Z-Cars as Sergeant Culshaw between 1971 and 1975.

Challis played Terrance Aubrey Boyce in Only Fools And Horses from 1981 to 2003, as well as in The Green Green Grass, a spinoff show focused on Boycie.

Sir David Jason Book
Challis starred in Only Fools And Horses alongside Sir David Jason (Century / PA)

He recently became an honorary citizen of Serbia, where the BBC sitcom remains extremely popular.

Challis directed the documentary Boycie In Belgrade, exploring why the show was so beloved in the Balkan country.

He was also known to have played Monty Staines in the ITV sitcom Benidorm.

Challis has performed on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theater, and has appeared in pantomime productions regularly.

Her family have asked that instead of flowers, donations be made to her favorite animal charities – Cuan Wildlife Rescue, Tusk and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Their statement added: “As Boycie would have said… you know that makes sense!”

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