John Challis, who will be best remembered for playing Boycie in the popular BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses, has died at the age of 79.
His family said he died “peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer”.
Co-star Sir David Jason paid tribute to Challis as a “a wonderful actor” and “a gentleman in the true sense of the word”.
His character – unscrupulous second-hand car dealer Terrance Aubrey Boyce – was a firm favourite with comedy fans.
Challis starred in the show, alongside Sir David and Nicholas Lyndhurst, throughout its time on air from 1981 right through to the final show in 2003.
The character – who was both a long-time former schoolmate and devious rival of Sir David’s character Del Boy – was initially due to appear in just one scene, but the part grew in prominence as the series progressed.
In fact he was so popular with viewers that, when Only Fools and Horses ended its long run, the BBC developed a spin-off show following the continuing adventures of Boycie and long-suffering wife Marlene. It ran for four series.
Sue Holderness, who played Marlene, paid tribute to Challis as her “beloved friend”.
“Marlene without Boycie – it’s unthinkable,” she said. “John Challis was my partner on screen and stage for 36 years and my beloved friend. RIP darling John. I will miss you every day.”
And Steven Woodcock, who played Jevon in the sitcom, said Challis was a “fantastic actor and wonderful person, amazing to work with. There is no Del Boy without Boycie. RIP my Peckham pal”.