Only Fools and Horses actor John Challis stages show in Lewes

John Challis
John Challis

Only Fools and Horses fans always looked forward to the battles between Boycie and Del Boy as the two competed in a game of one upmanship.

They will also have imitated the way Boycie squeezes out his wife’s name Marlene and his machine gun style laugh.

If this sounds like you, head for Lewes Little Theatre on Friday November 14 where the actor John Challis will be talking about Only Fools and Horses, what he did leading up to the show and revealing some surprising facts.

Expect stories about meeting the Beatles and appearing in Dr Who alongside Tom Baker .

There will also be a question and answer session at the end of his entertaining account of his career.

The Sussex Express had the chance to quiz John ahead of his show in Lewes, where we found out some interesting facts too.

For instance did you know as people began to recognise John, they often mistook him for Trigger, played by Roger Lloyd Pack?

According to John, Roger Lloyd Pack was often mistaken for Boycie.

John said groups of lads would see him in the street, wait until they had passed him, then do impressions of him saying Marlene and giggle like a ‘bunch of schoolgirls’.

He attributed the success of Only Fools to the broad spread of well drawn and funny characters in the show.

“They all had such wonderful moments,” he said.

“That’s what made the show such a success. They all had such popularity in their own right.”

He also added it was something which people felt was uplifting and optimistic, no matter what life threw at Del Boy and Rodney, they kept going in the belief that one day they would be millionaires.

It is a programme which regularly makes it into lists of best sitcoms ever, running from 1981 to 2003.

John said: “I had no idea we would still be talking about it 35 years later.

“I started off doing one scene in the first series. And nobody said there’s a future in this or in the character.

“It wasn’t until the fourth series we realised how much it meant to people.

“We realised in about 1985 that we were on to something very popular.

“By the end of the 1980s it was massive. We were recognised in the street much more.”

John will be signing copies of his autobiography Being Boycie, and novel Reggie: A Stag At Bay.

Tickets for Only Fools and Boycie £15 by calling 01273 474826. Show runs for 90 minutes with a 20 minute interval and starts at 7.30pm.

Did you know the machine gun style laugh we associate with Boycie’s character, was based on a woman John Challis saw in a pub who had a similar laugh?

John said: “I always do impressions of people and was always being told off for it.

“There was a woman in a pub who had this machine gun laugh and I always remembered it.”

John imitated the laugh when his character was required to laugh in an Only Fools and Horses episode and everybody laughed and loved it, telling him to keep the machine gun cackle in.

Today it has become a favourite Boycie impression.