Portsmouth theatre pays tribute to 'brilliant' patron and Only Fools and Horses Boycie actor John Challis following his death

A CITY theatre has paid tribute to ‘brilliant’ Only Fools and Horses actor and one of its patrons John Challis.

By Fiona Callingham
Monday, 20th September 2021, 1:28 pm
Updated Monday, 20th September 2021, 1:59 pm
Actor John Challis
Actor John Challis

This weekend his family revealed the beloved TV and stage star had died of cancer aged 79.

Best known for his role as second-hand car dealer Boycie in the BBC sitcom, John was also a patron of the Kings Theatre in Southsea.

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Only Fools and Horses actor John Challis visited Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary to open two new shelters and meet a donkey named after his character Boycie

In a statement the theatre said: ‘We are devastated to learn of the passing of John Challis. John was not only a brilliant actor who performed on stage at the Kings, but also a wonderful friend and supporter of the theatre as one of our patrons.

‘John’s support of the Kings was unrivalled and it was a privilege to keep in regular contact with him throughout a difficult period for the arts. We will always treasure our time working with him.

‘Our love and thoughts go out to his wife Carol, his family and friends.’

John had cancelled a 30-date speaking tour earlier this month after only one appearance due to ill health.

A statement from his family to the PA news agency yesterday said: ‘It is with heavy hearts that we bring you such sad news.

‘Our dear friend and yours, John Challis, has died peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer.

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

‘Please respect the privacy of John’s family and friends at this difficult time, and be assured that in the future there will be an occasion to celebrate John’s life – when everyone will be welcome to come along.’

In 2019, John opened two new donkey shelters at the Hayling Island Donkey Sanctuary – and earlier this year donated donated two signed Royal Mail first day covers and a special A4 stamp sheet to be auctioned to raise money for the charity.

His family have requested that instead of flowers, donations are made to his favoured animal charities – Cuan Wildlife Rescue, Tusk and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

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