Entertainment Only Fools and Horses star John Challis dies aged 79
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John Challis has died aged 79.
The actor - who played Boycie in the sitcom 'Only Fools and Horses' - died "peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer".
His family said in a statement: "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."
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Sue Holderness - who played Marlene, his on-screen wife in 'Only Fools and Horses' - described the comedy star as a "beloved friend".
She said: "Marlene without Boycie - it's unthinkable. 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."
Sir David Jason, another of his co-stars on the BBC sitcom, has also paid a glowing tribute to the late actor.
The 81-year-old star - who played Derek 'Del Boy' Trotter - said: "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."
Challis joined the cast of 'Only Fools and Horses' in 1981 and he even starred in its spin-off series, 'The Green Green Grass'.
How John Challis created one of comedy's great characters
The late actor was known for playing Only Fools and Horses' smarmy second-hand car salesman Boycie.Boycie was the sneeringly superior, shiny-suited, sharp-practising second-hand car salesman who liked to have a laugh - a long, nasal, grating laugh - at the expense of Del Boy and Rodney, but who often ended up being the butt of the joke himself.
He also played Monty Staines in the ITV show 'Benidorm' and appeared in a number of Shakespeare productions during his career, including open-air performances of 'Richard III' and 'A Midsummer's Night Dream'.
Crissy Rock - who starred alongside Challis in 'Benidorm' - 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. (sic)"
Challis recently cancelled his one-man tour due to ill health.
The comedy actor started his spoken word tour but after one date he was "advised to cancel further engagements".
A post from the official Twitter account of the Playhouse Theatre in Whitley Bay - which was one of the venues hosting the comic star - read: "We are sorry to announce that due to ill health, John Challis' tour has been cancelled with immediate effect. John completed the first show of his present tour, intending to continue. However, he has been advised to cancel further engagements."
The tour was to run for 30 dates throughout September, October and November.
My Trip Along the Most Mysterious River on Earth .
Across the heart of Asia, at the ancient convergence of steppe and forest, the grasslands of Mongolia move towards Siberia in a grey-green sea. The land’s silence is almost unbroken. It is barely inhabited. At its farthest reach, near the Russian frontier, almost five thousand square miles are forbidden to travelers. These mountains, once the homeland of Genghis Khan, are today a near-sacred wilderness. The solitary track that reaches them ends at a barrier and a rangers’ lodge. And here we wait–a guide, two horsemen and I–to enter a region that none of us truly knows. Somewhere deep in this hinterland rises one of the most formidable rivers on earth.