John Challis' incredible career as actor dies aged 79

John Challis' incredible career as actor dies aged 79

After Only Fools and Horses legend John Challis has died at the age of 79, fans have been paying tribute and remembering his incredible career throughout the years.

Challis, who played Boycie on the iconic show, died peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with cancer, his family said in a statement.

Stars like Sir David Jason (Del Boy) and Challis’ on-screen wife, Sue Holderness, who played Marlene, have paid tribute.

The actor’s career began in 1964 with an appearance in Where Has Poor Mickey Gone?. He went on to have a recurring role in The Newcomers as Harry Kapper, and then, in 1971, as Jim Wright in Crossroads: Kings Oak.

Challis also made an appearance in Doctor Who, as well as playing two roles in Coronation Street over the course of 10 years.

He later starred in his best-known role, Boycie in Only Fools and Horses, before taking on Monty Staines in Benidorm.

Z Cars

One of Challis’ earliest roles was in police procedural drama Z Cars, in which he played Seargant Frank Culshaw.

It was a role he held from 1971 to 1975.

Doctor Who

In 1977, Challis starred alongside the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, in Doctor Who: The Seeds of Doom.

It was the sixth and final serial of the 13th season of the sci-fi, with Challis starring as violent henchman Scorby.

The Doctor is sent on one last mission as UNIT’s scientific advisor to investigate a mysterious pod found in the Antarctic – but Scorby terorrisies the Time Lord in the hopes of bringing the pod back to crazed millionaire Harrison Chase (Tony Beckley).

Challis also referenced being close to the role of the Doctor at one point, simply saying: ‘I think I was somewhere in the running at one stage.’

Coronation Street

From 1967 to 1977, Challis took on two different roles in Coronation Street.

He first appeared as rowdy football supporter George Naylor in winter 1967.

He returned to the programme as Detective Constable, later Detective Seargant Norman Phillips, appearing in October 1974, January to February 1975 and returning in February 1977.

Only Fools and Horses

Of course, Challis went on to star as Terrance ‘Boycie’ Boyce in the BBC’s Only Fools and Horses, the role that turned him into a household name.

He starred alongside castmates including Sir David and Nicholas Lyndhurst.

The actor remained in the role from 1981 to 2003, before reprising the role for the spin-off, The Green Green Grass from 2005 to 2009.

Boycie, a cigar-smoking businessman with a mocking laugh, was married to the feisty Marlene and regularly butted heads with Sir David’s Del Boy.

The actor recently became an honorary citizen of Serbia, where the BBC sitcom remains hugely popular, and made the documentary Boycie In Belgrade, exploring why the show was so adored in the Balkan country.

Meanwhile, just last year, Challis told The Belfast Telegraph of Boycie: ‘He’s always with me.

‘He’s like my shadow, really. People literally come up to me every day when I’m out and about – even when I’m abroad – and say how much they enjoyed him and want to reminisce about him.

‘Often they don’t know my name, so they just greet me as ‘Boycie’. As a young actor, you dream of being in something that catches on with people, and when it does, it’s extraordinary. It’s wonderful being remembered so fondly for something that’s still hugely loved 35 years on.’

Benidorm

In what would become Challis’ final long-running role, he starred as Monty Staines in Benidorm from 2005 to 2018.

‘I was thrilled to be welcomed into the Benidorm family,’ he told Iceni magazine of the role in 2018.

‘It was a unique experience which I shall never forget, and my wife and I fell in love with Benidorm and Spain, which we had not expected.

‘I hope the friendships we made will last for ever.’

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