Sir David Jason has spoken out about his friend and co-star John Challis, saying he’s ‘in shock’ after his death at the age of 79.
Appearing on This Morning, Sir David said: ‘It wasn’t a complete surprise because poor old John hadn’t been well for the last month or two.
‘But he went downhill so fast, very rapidly, that one minute we were thinking he was on the road to recovery and sadly it just took him.
‘We’re still suffering a bit of shock, I’m afraid.’
The 81-year-old also mentioned his admiration of his late friend, explaining: ‘It comes as a bit of a surprise sometimes that John Challis was such a kind and such an ordinary, lovable chap. – totally different to the character Boycie that he played.
Sir David Jason played Del Boy, while Challis starred as Boycie (Picture: BBC)
‘It just showed the skill he had as an actor.’
The news of Challis’ death was announced in a statement reading: ‘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.
Sir David opened up about his admiration for his late friend (Picture: ITV)
‘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 starred in Only Fools And Horses alongside Sir David and Nicholas Lyndhurst for 22 years before going on to star in the spin-off The Green Green Grass.
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.
Besides his role in Only Fools And Horses, Challis also portrayed Monty Staines from the seventh series onwards in the ITV sitcom Benidorm from 2015 to 2018.
His family has requested that instead of flowers, donations are made to his favoured animal charities – Cuan Wildlife Rescue, Tusk and The British Hedgehog Preservation Society.
This Morning airs weekdays at 10am on ITV.