Actor John Challis, who played Boycie in Only Fools And Horses, has died at the age of 79.

His family said in a statement that the sitcom legend died peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer.

A statement said: "It is with heavy hearts that we bring you such sad news.

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"Our dear friend and yours, John Challis, has died peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer.

He played Boycie in the long-running sitcom

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"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 statment added: "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."

John had an extensive television career but is best known for portraying Terrance Aubrey 'Boycie' Boyce in the long-running BBC sitcom Only Fools and Horses and its spin-off The Green Green Grass.

He also played Monty Staines in the ITV sitcom Benidorm.

In 2014 John began a theatre tour of his one-man show titled Only Fools and Boycie.

His friend Sheila Ferguson, former singer with The Three Degrees, announced via her Twitter page that he had died over the weekend.

She said: "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"

"Absolutely gutted to hear of the passing of John Challis (Boycie from OFAH)," said one fan.

"Massive part of so many people’s childhoods.. Thanks for the memories sir."