John Challis aka Boycie talks showbiz, ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and his new show ahead of An Evening at The Brook, Soham

John Challice aka 'Boycie'.

John Challice aka 'Boycie'. - Credit: Archant

Before bringing ‘An Evening with John Challis’ to The Brook in Soham, Ben Jolley spoke to ‘Boycie’ about his showbiz career, what people can expect from the new tour and the ever-lasting appeal of ‘Only Fools and Horses’…

John Challis as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses.

John Challis as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses. - Credit: Archant

What can people expect from the tour?

It’s me talking about my life, ‘Only Fools and Horses’ and the spin-off series, ‘The

Green Green Grass’... how I got there and all the people I met along the way, there are lots of stories. It’s an entertainment really.

For fans of the show there’ll be lots of details and they will be able to pick up lots of information. It’s very funny and pretty interesting so I’m told.

Towards the end of the show there’s a question and answer session, then I meet the audience afterwards – if they want to – and my biography will be on sale, so I can dedicate them to people for presents.

What kind of people make up your audience on tour?

Boycie and the mask-arade.

Boycie and the mask-arade. - Credit: Archant

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A lot of people bring their kids; it’s great for all the family. Bring granddad along and have a good time

Have you experienced any crazy fans?

Oh yes! One or two quite interesting people, who come along with piles of stuff for me to sign and want me to do all sorts of extraordinary things; some of which I can do and some which I can’t.

What’s the weirdest thing someone has said or given to you on tour so far?

I don’t think anything terribly weird has happened... from what I can remember.

But somebody got up in the middle of the Q&A and gave a long speech. He said: ‘I just want to say something’, I said ‘okay then, carry on’ and he went on for about ten minutes talking about how wonderful the show was and what a treat it was to see it.

John Challis aka Boycie.

John Challis aka Boycie. - Credit: Archant

He said he had always wanted to be an actor and asked if I could get him into the next series. I said it’s not really up to me, and it just got funnier and funnier and the audience fell about by the end of it.

He was very difficult to stop, but he actually got up, came down the front and faced the audience as if he was onstage.

Have you been to Cambridgeshire before – what did you think of it?

One of my first ever jobs was at the Cambridge Arts Theatre and I got sacked – for not paying attention or looking after myself properly. It was the first legitimate job I had and it didn’t work out at all. I thought that was the end of my career but little did I know it was just the start.

I visited Ely Cathedral to do a reading for a charity show; it was a just a fabulous place to be.

What have you learnt from showbusiness over the years?

Not to take it too seriously. There were a lot of people who I worked with early on in my career that just couldn’t handle it… the rejection. They got wound up about it and went and did a sensible job instead. It’s not all just glitz and glamour, there’s a dark side to showbiz as well; which I talk a lot about in the show. You must not let it affect you; you’ve got to keep strong.

How has the industry changed throughout your career?

It’s unrecognisable really. When I started there was a theatre in every town and not that many people on telly; the theatres just didn’t do well enough in the ‘60s and a lot of them closed down.

The whole social media thing is just extraordinary. I’m on Twitter because I’ve got to get out and reach people; a lot of people come to the show because they’ve heard about it online. I do worry about it, though; people who troll or who use it for criminal activity. But it’s going to happen, it’s just human nature.

Why do you think ‘Only Fools & Horses’ was so successful?

It’s funny, full of great jokes and people love the stories. They’re quite complicated a lot of them, but also it tackled human frailties and problems that people had. It had that knack to make you feel better about things and smile about it. So many people have come up to me over the years and said that the series has helped them through difficult times.

John Challis visits The Brook on Friday, October 7.