Come along Marlene – Boycie’s at arts centre

Boycie star John Challis with his books
Boycie star John Challis with his books

Terrance Aubrey Boyce is a second-hand car dealer , he is married to Marlene, they have a son, Tyler, and a dog called Duke.

He likes a cognac in the Nags Head in Peckham, smokes cigars and counts Del Boy, Rodney, Trigger and Denzil among his acquaintances.

Only Fools and Horses could be my Mastermind subject – but what do I know about John Challis, the actor who plays Boycie in the sitcom? After chatting to him on the phone quite a lot. But would not want to spoil the treats in store for those going to see him at Pocklington Arts Centre.

I will say, though, John has none of the nasally whine that characterises Boycie’s speech. He’s well-spoken, delightfully self-deprecating and flattered when I reveal how much I love Only Fools. He’s used to people wanting to talk Boycie. “When you start out in this business you want to be a household name and when it happens with all it entails you can’t say ‘I don’t want this anymore’. Only Fools Changed everybody’s life.”

He sees the sessions like the one at the arts centre as a chance to thank the fans and for them to say ‘hello’. “Only Fools means so much to people and I have learned to live with this alter-ego and got used to dealing with the reaction of people.”

He doesn’t take acting too seriously seeing it has a chance to show off, mess about and get paid.

He charts his life in two volumes of candid autobiography Being Boycie and Boycie and Beyond. He has also written a novel, Reggie, A Stag At Bay – based loosely on The Green, Green Grass, the Only Fools spin-off which saw the Boyces move to the country.

It was filmed at John’s home Wigmore Abbey in Herefordshire, the Grade 1 listed building he and his fourth wife Carol spent 10 years restoring.

The session at the arts centre will include anecdotes about the Beatles, Oliver Reed, Hilda Ogden and, of course, Only Fools. But John was also in Z Cars, Coronation Street, Juliet Bravo and Open All Hours. On stage he has done everything from Shakespeare and Stoppard to pantomime.

He will play Jaques in As You Like It at the Ludlow Festival this summer.

Only Fools And Boycie – An Intimate Evening With John Challis is at Pocklington Arts Centre on Thursday 6 March at 7.30pm.