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John Spurley Challis
16 August 1942
|Died||19 September 2021(aged 79)|
John Spurley Challis (16 August 1942 – 19 September 2021) was an English actor. He had an extensive theatre and television career but is best known for portraying Terrance Aubrey "Boycie" Boyce in the long-running BBC Television sitcom Only Fools and Horses (1981–2003) and its sequel/spin-off The Green Green Grass (2005–2009), as well as Monty Staines from the seventh series onwards in the ITV sitcom Benidorm (2015–2018). Challis was an established stage actor, making appearances for companies including the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.
John Spurley Challis was born on 16 August 1942 in Clifton, Bristol, England. An only child, his family moved to Southeast London when he was one year old. He grew up in Epsom, after the family moved to Surrey. Challis attended the state boarding Ottershaw School near Woking, Surrey. His father was Alec, a civil servant with the Admiralty who became secretary to the energy minister; he was a strict disciplinarian. His mother was Joan (née Harden), a former ambulance driver who performed in amateur dramatics and taught drama in schools.
When offered work in television, Challis, who was 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall, often found himself typecast as doctors, soldiers and police officers. His first television role was in the BBC soap opera The Newcomers in 1967. Another early television role, also in 1967 was as a thief who stole Ena Sharples' handbag in Coronation Street; he would later have a recurring role in the series as Detective Sergeant Norman Phillips from 1975 to 1977. 1969 he played in the gangster drama Big Breadwinner Hog, and between 1971 and 1975 Challis made regular appearances in Z-Cars as Sergeant Culshaw.
A role in the John Sullivan sitcom Citizen Smith led to Challis being cast as Terrance Aubrey "Boycie" Boyce in Only Fools and Horses (1981—2003), which became his best-known role. Sullivan also created a spin-off for Challis, The Green Green Grass (2005—2009). The outdoor scenes of The Green Green Grass were filmed at his then home, surrounding fields and local villages.
His other television appearances include Dixon of Dock Green, Thriller, The Sweeney, Doctor Who (The Seeds of Doom), Dracula, Beau Geste, Juliet Bravo, Bloomers, Ever Decreasing Circles, Doctor Snuggles, Chance in a Million, The Bill, One Foot in the Grave, Open All Hours, The New Statesman, Don't Wait Up, Soldier Soldier, Brass Eye, My Family, In Sickness and in Health, Benidorm and Heartbeat.
He also played Dibden Purlew in Getting Nowhere Fast from 2001 to 2004.
He became an honorary citizen of Serbia, where Only Fools and Horses remains hugely popular. In 2020, Challis made the documentary Boycie in Belgrade, exploring why the show was so beloved in the Balkan country.
Challis performed many stage roles, including with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1960s and the National Theatre. His first performance in London's West End was in Portrait of a Queen in 1965 at the Vaudeville Theatre. In 1977 he played a leading role at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, in Sam Walters’ production of Václav Havel’s play The Memorandum. In 1979 he went on tour of the USA with Tom Stoppard's play Cahoot’s Macbeth.
His work at the National Theatre included productions of On the Razzle (1979) and The Rivals (1983), with Michael Hordern, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor with Frank Finlay. In a 1993 tour with the National he starred along with Barbara Windsor, Kenneth Waller, and Christopher Villiers in a production of Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton. He appeared with Sue Holderness ('Marlene' in Only Fools and Horses) in Ayckbourn's Relatively Speaking, Time and Time Again and How the Other Half Loves, and the National Theatre's own production of Boycie and Marlene.
In 1995, at the height of the success of Only Fools and Horses, as an established Shakespeare actor he returned to the stage to appear in Richard III and A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, and in 2000 he played Malvolio in Twelfth Night, at Stafford Castle and he performed at Ludlow Castle in As You Like It in 2011.
He was also featured regularly in pantomime productions in which he usually played the roguish or wicked roles, such as for example, Captain Hook in Peter Pan at the Plaza Theatre, Stockport, a role he reprised in 2018 at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. He also appeared in pantomime at Weston Playhouse in winter 2011–12 playing Ebenezer in Aladdin and as King Rat in Dick Whittington at the Plaza over Christmas 2013 and New Year 2014.  
In 2014, Challis began a theatre tour of his one-man show titled Only Fools and Boycie, which charted his life before, during and after his time as Boycie.
Challis was married four times. His first wife, Jean Robertson, was a stage manager; His second and third wives were actresses Debbie Arnold and Sabina Franklyn. He married his fourth wife Carol Davies in Brighton in 1995 and in 1998 bought the Abbot's Lodgings at Wigmore Abbey Grange, Adforton, Herefordshire, which they proceeded to renovate. Challis had no children.
Challis was a patron of the British Hedgehog Preservation Society. He was an Arsenal supporter. Challis wrote two volumes of autobiography, Being Boycie and Boycie & Beyond. In 2016, he wrote Wigmore Abbey: The Treasure of Mortimer about the renovation of his house's gardens.
Challis died of cancer on 19 September 2021, aged 79. Tributes were paid by a number of fellow actors and entertainers including his Only Fools and Horses co-stars Sir David Jason and Sue Holderness, as well as Ice-T, Paul Chuckle, Piers Morgan and Sheila Ferguson.
|1964||Where Has Poor Mickey Gone?||Tim|||
|1971||Say Hello to Yesterday||Salesman||Uncredited|||
|1981||Burning an Illusion||Man in Car|||
|1985||Defence of the Realm||Challis|||
|1998||The Tichborne Claimant||Rous the Landlord|||
|2000||Five Seconds to Spare||Shopping Centre Manager|||
|1967||The Newcomers||Harry Kapper||5 episodes|||
|1967||Z-Cars||Detective Constable Armitage||2 episodes|||
|1967||Coronation Street||George Naylor||2 episodes|||
|1968||City '68||Hospital Doctor||Episode: "The Old Country"|||
|1968||Virgin of the Secret Service||Captain Kirby||Episode: "The Rajah and the Suffragette"|||
|1968||Mr. Rose||Detective Constable Jackson||Episode: "The Frozen Swede"|||
|1968||Softly, Softly||DC Rankin||2 episodes|||
|1969||Big Breadwinner Hog||First Operative||Episode: "Self-Discipline Is Its Own Reward"|||
|1969||ITV Playhouse||Carstairs||Episode: "The John Hilarian Salt Exhibition and Numerous Illustrated Slides"|
|1969||Who-Dun-It||Rev. Lindsay Whittaker||Episode: "An Embarrassment of Murder"|
|1969||Dixon of Dock Green||Ray||Episode: "Obsession"|||
|1969||Canterbury Tales||Farmhand||Episode: "The Shipman's Tale"|
|1969||Strange Report||Soldier||Episode: "Report 7931: Sniper – When Is Your Cousin Not?"|
|1970||The Misfit||Lofty||Episode: "On Not Being Lost"|
|1971||Brett||Riordan||Episode: "All the King's Horses..."|
|1971–1975||Z-Cars||Sgt. Culshaw||11 episodes|||
|1971||Crossroads||Jim Wright||9 episodes|||
|1972||ITV Sunday Night Theatre||Factory Guard||Episode: "The Last Journey"|
|1974||Who Killed Lamb?||Casson||TV film|||
|1974||Dracula||Stockton-on-Tees Clerk||TV film|
|1974||Whodunnit?||Private Rhodes||Episode: "Goodbye Sarge"|
|1974||Crown Court||Detective Inspector Stoddard||Episodes: "The Messenger Boy: Part 1" and "The Messenger Boy: Part 3"|||
|1974–1977||Coronation Street||DC Norman Phillips||8 episodes|||
|1975||Drive Carefully, Darling||'Ego'||Instructional film|||
|1975||Nightingale's Boys||Pete||Episode: "Decision"|||
|1975||The Sweeney||Skef Warren||Episode: "Stay Lucky Eh?"|||
|1975||The Legend of Robin Hood||Castle Guard||Episode: "Part 5"|||
|1976||Doctor Who||Scorby||All 6 episodes of The Seeds of Doom|||
|1976||Open All Hours||Bread Man||Episode: "Well Catered Funeral"|||
|1976||The Cedar Tree||Leonard Barnet||Episodes: "Mice at Play Part 1" and "Mice at Play Part 2"|||
|1976||The New Avengers||Soldier||Episode: "Dirtier by the Dozen"|
|1978||The Law Centre||DS Sharp||Episode: "Millstone"|
|1979||Doctor Snuggles||Various||Voice; All 13 episodes|||
|1980||Citizen Smith||Chief Inspector Humphreys||Episode: "The Letter of the Law"|||
|1980||Play for Today||Victor Mintell||Episode: "Number on End"|||
|1981||Play for Today||Harry||Episode: "Before Water Lilies"|||
|1981||Play for Today||Voice role||Episode: "A Turn For The Worse"|||
|1981–2003||Only Fools and Horses||Aubrey "Boycie" Boyce||33 episodes|
|1981||Sink or Swim||Man at Door||Episode: "Ecology"|||
|1982||Beau Geste||Corporal Dupré||4 episodes (part 4–7)|||
|1985||Relative Strangers||CID Man||Episode: #1.6|
|1985||Late Starter||Policeman||Episode: #1.5|
|1985||Storyboard||Billy Cato||Episode: "King & Castle"|||
|1985||In Sickness and in Health||Policeman||Episode: #1.1|
|1985||Juliet Bravo||Taylor||Episode: "Hostage to Fortune"|||
|1985||Howards' Way||Morris||2 episodes|||
|1986||Chance in a Million||Policeman||Episode: "And What Shall We Do for a Ring?"|
|1986||Strike It Rich!||Big John||Episode: "Suspicions"|
|1986||Roland Rat: The Series||Policeman||Episode: #1.6|
|1986||Lenny Henry Tonite||Various||Episode: "Gronk Zillman"|||
|1987||C.A.T.S. Eyes||Stark||Episode: "A Naval Affair"|||
|1987||Ratman||Police Chief||2 episodes|
|1987||Alas Smith and Jones||Mexican Hotel Receptionist||Episode: #4.4|
|1987||Ever Decreasing Circles||Maintenance Man||Episode: "Half an Office"|
|1988||40 Minutes||General cast||Episode: "Scarfe's Follies"|||
|1988||Wish Me Luck||Victor Travussini||5 episodes|||
|1988||Don't Wait Up||Man in Jewellery Shop||Episode: #5.2|
|1988||The Bill||Ian Gore||Episode: "Runaround"|
|1988||Casualty||Harry||Episode: "Living Memories"|
|1992||Sitting Pretty||Boris||Voice; Episode: "Anniversary Waltz"|
|1992||The New Statesman||General Giray||Episode: "A Bigger Splash"|
|1992||One Foot in the Grave||Jack the Burglar (voice)||Episode: "Beware the Trickster on the Roof"|||
|1992||Sitting Pretty||The Trainer||Voice; Episode: "Happy Birthdays"|
|1993||Then Churchill Said to Me||Major Harry Bouchet||Episode: "Nanny by Searchlight"|
|1993||Get Back||Monty||Episode: "Money"|
|1996||Soldier Soldier||Police Superintendent||Episode: "Delayed Action"|
|1997||Wing and a Prayer||DS Doughty||Episode: "The Ties That Bind"|
|1998||Heartbeat||Stan Fraser||Episode: "Where There's a Will"|||
|2002||Doctors||James Fletcher||Episode: "Feet of Clay"|
|2005–2009||The Green Green Grass||Aubrey "Boycie" Boyce||All 32 episodes|||
|2006||The Impressionists||Station Master||Episode: #1.2|
|2007||My Family||Jacob Marley||Episode: "Ho Ho No"|
|2008||Last of the Summer Wine||Jeremy||Episode: "Is Jeremy Quite Safe?"|||
|2015–2018||Benidorm||Monty Staines||15 episodes|||
|2015||Doctors||Freddy Prenton||Episode: "Vapour Trail"|
|2016||Are You Being Served?||Captain Peacock||TV film|||
|2018||Sooty||Henry Witham-Smythe||Episode: "Just Desserts"|
|2020||Državni posao||Aubrey "Boycie" Boyce||Episode: "Dostavno vozilo"|||
John Challis is happy to accept he'll always be best known for playing Only Fools And Horses' cigar-chomping wide boy Boycie
Jeff Nicholson met Challis, who died from cancer on Sunday morning aged 79, during the opening night of the West End production in 2019 and the pair continued to exchange messages until shortly before his death
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to John Challis.|
Presented content of the Wikipedia article was extracted in 2021-09-25 based on https://en.wikipedia.org/?curid=2312329