Only Fools cast members praise ‘beloved friend’ and ‘gentleman’ John Challis

Sir David Jason and Sue Holderness were among those paying tribute to their co-star.
Sir David Jason and Sue Holderness were among those paying tribute to their co-star.

Sir David Jason is among the Only Fools And Horses cast members who have paid tribute to John Challis following his death.

Tributes poured in on Sunday after it was announced Challis had died from cancer at the age of 79.

Sir David, who played Del Boy in the beloved sitcom alongside Challis as second-hand car dealer Boycie, spoke of his “sadness” following the news.

Cirque Du Soleil’s Totem Premiere – London
Sir David described Challis as a ‘gentleman'(Ian West/PA)

He said in a statement: “It is with much sadness to hear that John Challis, a dear friend, has passed away.

“He was a wonderful actor, a gentleman in the true sense of the word and I know he will be missed by so many.”

He said Boycie was “a character so well loved by the many fans of that show so I am pleased that he witnessed the outpouring of admiration recently shown for the 40th anniversary of the first episode in 1981.

“I send my love and condolences to his wife, Carol.”

Also paying tribute was Sue Holderness, who played his on-screen partner Marlene.

She said in a statement: “Marlene without Boycie, it’s unthinkable.

“John Challis was my partner on screen and stage for 36 years and my beloved friend. R.I.P. darling John.

“I will miss you every day.”

The Three Degrees singer Sheila Ferguson, who posted a picture of her and Challis on Twitter, said she was “heartbroken”.

She said: “I’ve been waiting for this for a few days now.

“It is with great sadness that I tell you that my dear friend, John Challis (Boycie from OFAH) has just passed.

“I’ve been in touch with his wife, Carol, who is obviously heartbroken, as am I. Much love, S.”

‘Allo ‘Allo! actress Vicki Michelle said on Twitter: “Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Wonderful John Challis such a fabulous man. Loved by the Nation. Condolences to his family and loved ones.”

Actress Crissy Rock, who appeared in Benidorm with Challis, tweeted: “I am heartbroken to hear the news that the legendary actor @BeingBoycie has sadly passed away.

“John you were a true gentleman and always so loving and supportive towards me. I am thinking of your family and close friends at this hard time. Rest well. Crissy xx.”

In tribute to their long-term fan, Somerset County Cricket Club shared a video filmed with Challis earlier this year in which he comically announced the extension of a player’s contract.

The club tweeted: “Somerset County Cricket Club are extremely saddened to hear about the passing of long term supporter John Challis.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”

Former Doctor Who actor Colin Baker, who appeared alongside Challis in the 1975 safety information film Drive Carefully, Darling, tweeted: “Oh my goodness. My friend John Challis has died.

“What a lovely man he was funny warm and a great lover of his garden and nature. We are all the poorer for his loss.”

EastEnders actress Tracy-Ann Oberman described Challis as an “icon”.

She tweeted: “Omg just seen news about John Challis. I’m absolutely gutted . He had become such a wonderful friend and ally from meeting here Twitter . Love you John you icon and all thoughts to your beloved family. May your memory be a blessing. So sad.”

Charlotte Moore, chief content officer of the BBC – which aired Only Fools And Horses, said: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of John Challis.

“A wonderful actor who will forever be remembered for playing Boycie in Only Fools And Horses, a character so well loved by millions. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.”

Tim Parry, director of communications at Alzheimer’s Research UK, praised Challis for his support for the dementia research charity.

He said: “John Challis was a much-loved figure of British comedy who not only brought joy to so many on screen, but also worked tirelessly off screen to support charitable causes, including Alzheimer’s Research UK.

“John juggled his acting career with caring for his father, Alec, who died with Alzheimer’s disease in 1990, and became a supporter of Alzheimer’s Research UK in 2014.

“In 2015, he supported our Hats off to Research campaign by donating a hat for auction and bravely shared his experiences of caring for someone with dementia in the media to raise awareness of the campaign.”