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Only Fools and Horses star John Challis reveals "shock" over Roger Lloyd Pack's death ahead of Dartford show

PUBLISHED: 09:57 24 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:57 24 February 2014

John Challis, Sir David Jason and Sue Holderness arrive at St Paul's Church in Covent Garden for the funeral of co-star Roger Lloyd Pack on Thursday. Picture: Adam Gerrard

John Challis, Sir David Jason and Sue Holderness arrive at St Paul's Church in Covent Garden for the funeral of co-star Roger Lloyd Pack on Thursday. Picture: Adam Gerrard

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Having worked together on Britain's best loved sitcom for more than 30 years, Only Fools and Horses star John Challis says the death of friend Roger Lloyd Pack was "a terrible shock" - and also left him £10 out of pocket.

Actress Sue Holderness who played Marlene and actor John Challis who played Boycie in 'Only Fools and Horses' arriving at the National Television Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London.Actress Sue Holderness who played Marlene and actor John Challis who played Boycie in 'Only Fools and Horses' arriving at the National Television Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Better know as the insufferable Boycie in the BBC classic, Challis comes to Dartford’s Orchard Theatre next month with his one-man show: An Evening With Boycie.

He and Lloyd Pack, who played dim-witted Trigger in the much-loved series, would regularly joke about their love of rival north London football clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham, resulting in a wager.

“The reaction Roger’s death was incredible, and so moving,” said John.

“I saw a recording of Spurs’ next home match, where the fans sang for Trigger.

“He was a big fan and we all used to rib each other about the football. In fact, he still owes me a tenner because he bet me that Spurs would finish above Arsenal last season.”

Having tried to speak with his co-star just days before he died, Challis reveals no one but his close family had any idea how seriously ill the actor was.

“It was a terrible shock,” he said.

“I knew he was ill, but we had no idea of the extremity of it. I rang him two days before and he wasn’t really up to it.

“We decided to speak again the next day, but I never spoke to him again. It completely knocked me sideways.”

The pair first met in the early 1980s, when Challis was called back from pursuing a career on the American stage for a part in John Sullivan’s latest creation – set in Peckham, south London.

Challis, 71, had met the writer while appearing in an episode of Citizen Smith, starring Robert Lyndsey, in which he gave a memorable performance as a policeman.

“I used to play an awful lot of policeman,” he remembered.

“I knew this guy in my local pub who spoke in a crass, pedantic way and was extremely opinionated.

“I used that for the policeman and John said he liked it, and wanted to use the character again someday.

“I didn’t think anything of it, but a while later my agent called to say I’d been offered the role in Only Fools and Horses.”

John grabbed the chance to play anything other than a copper, this time an obnoxious used car dealer and the rest is television history.

He believes the show’s longevity and success can be attributed to the writing of Sullivan, as well as the casting of producer Ray Butt.

“John wrote from the heart, and wrote about everyone’s life which is why I think the show hit a chord with so many people,” said Challis.

“Everyone identified these characters as real people. Everyone knows a Trigger, or a Del Boy, or a Rodney, or a Boycie.”

Challis now focuses a lot of his time to writing and is currently touring the country to sign copies of his autobiographies Being Boycie, Boycie & Beyond and his first novel, Reggie: A Stag at Bay.

He is also performing shows up and down the country, recalling stories from the sets of Only Fools and Horses and The Green Green Grass spin-off.

Tickets to see Challis in Dartford on March 30 cost £15. To book, call the box office on 01322 22 0000 or visit orchardtheatre.co.uk.

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