Actor died ‘peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with cancer’
Challis was best known for playing “Boycie” in the beloved UK sitcom.
His family said that he died “peacefully in his sleep after a long battle with cancer”.
“It is with heavy hearts that we bring you such sad news,” his family said in a statement. “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.”
The statement continued: “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.”
Challis played Boycie, the friend of Del (David Jason) and Rodney (Nicholas Lyndhurst), throughout Only Fools and Horses’ 22-year run. His character’s real name was Herman Terrance Aubrey Boyce.
The actor reprised the role for his own spinoff, titled The Green Green Grass, alongside Sue Holderness, who played his on-screen wife, Marlene.
Most recently, he appeared in ITV series Benidorm, playing Monty Staines.
Challis was born in Bristol, but his family moved to south east London when he was just one. He worked as an estate agent before becoming a professional actor.
The actor also has several stage roles, performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company in the 1960s.
In 2014, he toured a one-man show titled Only Fools and Boycie, which charted his life before, during and after his time as the popular character.
Challis was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and was forced to cancel several tours.