Great Britain

John Challis tributes led by Emmerdale’s Vicki Michelle and Piers Morgan after Only Fools and Horses star dies aged 79

'ALLO 'ALLO! actress Vicki Michelle and Piers Morgan have led the tributes to John Challis after the actor died aged 79.

The Only Fools and Horses star's family announced his death in a statement this afternoon.

The much-loved star died peacefully in his sleep following a long battle with cancer.

Vicki wrote on Twitter: "Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Wonderful John Challis such a fabulous man . Loved by the Nation. Condolences to his family and loved ones."

Piers Morgan shared: "RIP John Challis, 79. Boycie was one of British TV’s funniest comic characters. Thanks for all the laughs, John."

Emmerdale's Danny Miller said: "So devastated about the news of @BeingBoycie - what a genuinely, lovely man. RIP John."

The Apprentice's Lord Sugar also paid tribute, writing: "Another sad passing. John Challis, who played Boycie in Only Fools And Horses, has lost his battle with cancer. Great actor and funny man, RIP."

Singer Sheila Ferguson said of her good friend: "I’ve been waiting for this for a few days now. It is with great sadness that I tell you that my dear friend, John Challis (Boycie from OFAH) has just passed. I’ve been in touch with his wife, Carol, who is obviously heartbroken, as am I. Much love, Sxx."

John was best known for playing second-hand car dealer Boycie alongside Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst in the iconic British sitcom Only Fools and Horses.

Boycie, a cigar-smoking businessman with a mocking laugh, was married to the feisty Marlene - played by Sue Holderness - and regularly butted heads with Sir David's Del Boy.

Paying tribute to her "beloved friend" today, Sue said: "Marlene without Boycie - it's unthinkable. John Challis was my partner on screen and stage for 36 years and my beloved friend.

"R.I.P. darling John. I will miss you every day."

Actress Crissy Rock, who appeared in Benidorm with John, said she was "heartbroken" to hear the news.

She wrote on Twitter: "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."

The news comes after John cancelled a 30-date speaking tour earlier this month after only one appearance due to ill health.

In a statement, his family said: "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.

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."

He even recently became an honorary citizen of Serbia, where the BBC sitcom remains hugely popular.

Challis made the documentary Boycie In Belgrade, exploring why the show was so beloved in the Balkan country.

He was also known for playing Monty Staines in the ITV sitcom Benidorm.

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