John Challis chats Boycie

He may forever be intertwined with his legendary character Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, but John Challis is not one to bear a grudge.

In fact he positively revels in it, and next weekend brings his character back to life in the Boycie and Marlene stage show at Epsom Playhouse alongside Sue Holderness.

And Challis insists he is more than happy to keep revisiting the comic creation.

He reveals: “When you start out in acting you have your heroes and your favourite characters, and you wonder what it would be like to create a role like that.

“Luckily for me that is how it has turned out.

“Boycie the character is a household name and it is fantastic to have that on your CV.

“It is truly wonderful because people seem to get so much fun out of it and I have so much fun playing the part.”

The show takes the characters that became so iconic they even gained their own spin-off - Green, Green Grass, and thrusts them on stage in a mix of sketch and chat that is aimed squarely at the fans.

Challis adds: “It all started as we kept being asked to do after dinner speeches.

“This then turned into work on cruise ships and it was obvious people still had a lot of affection for the characters.

“So we decided to pool our resources and combine for one Boycie and Marlene show - half of the show is in character with new material and the other half is us as ourselves answering questions from the audience.

“We also bring along a lot of props from the shows and people seem to love it.”

The 67-year-old began life as a classically-trained stage actor, including early work for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

After years treading the boards, Challis broke into television, firstly with a lengthy spell on Z Cars and then a turn in Doctor Who - a time he remembers well.

He adds: “I played Scorby in a 6-part storyline alongside Tom Baker and it was a fantastic time.

“Tom was such a larger then life character you could not help but get swept along with the whole thing.

“I remember chasing after Elisabeth Sladen in every episode - I had this enormous space gun given to me and I never got to use it!

“I think I met a horrible end - eaten by a rampant weed.

“Somebody gave me the DVD of it quite recently and although it looks pretty ropey now it is still great fun.”

Challis has no plans to quit acting anytime soon, with further options in the pipeline.

And the actor, who spent his teenage years living in Epsom, admits he will probably always be drawn to the darkside.

He claims: “I first knew I wanted to be an actor when I got taken to Peter Pan as a child.

“But it was not Peter that I identified with - it was Captain Hook.

“So I suppose I have always enjoyed the more villainous roles and hopefully there will be a few more for me yet!”

Boycie and Marlene, Epsom Playhouse, March 6, 7.45pm, £18.50, 01372 742555

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