He went downhill so fast! Sir David Jason speaks of shock at John Challis death

David Jason reflects on the death of former co-star John Challis

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This Morning’s Holly Willoughby and Phillip Scofield were joined by Only Fools and Horses legend Sir David Jason on Monday morning. Speaking on the death of his co-star and friend John Challis who died on Sunday following a battle with cancer, David explained how fast he deteriorated and described what an amazing friend he was. 

Holly introduced David to the show and began: “We just wanted to start by saying how sorry we are from over the weekend your co-star and friend John Challis died over the weekend.”

David replied: “Yeah, 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.

“One minute we were thinking he was on the road to recovery, but sadly it just took him quite swiftly, so still in shock, I’m afraid,” David described. 

“One of the things that I always measure an actor by is the difference between how they are in real life and the parts they played,” David went on as he paid tribute to his pal.

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“So, it comes as a bit of a surprise to people at times how John Challis was kind and such a lovable chap.

“So different from the character of Boycie he played, and people think that was John, but it wasn’t, that was the character he played.”

The Only Fools and Horses star John, best known for his portrayal of the ruthless character Boycie, died from cancer at the age of 79.

A statement from his family said: “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.


 “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.” 

Sir David was amongst one of the first to pay tribute to John, writing in a statement: “It is with much sadness to hear that John Challis, a dear friend, has passed away. 

“He was a wonderful actor, a gentleman in the true sense of the world, and I know he will be missed by so many.”

TV channel Gold posted on Twitter: “We are saddened that the wonderful John Challis who played Boycie so brilliantly in Only Fools and Horses and The Green Green Grass has passed away at 79.

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“We adored working with Jon and will always treasure his on-screen brilliance, our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Fans of John took to the social media site to express their condolences and sadness with Rob George writing, “After the sad loss of dear @BeingBoycie it’s lovely to see Sir David Jason on #ThisMorning, long may he be with us, cheers Boycie, rest in peace.”

Kaz Lesly also commented: “David Jason such a genuine man and John Challis portraying Boycie with Marlene a match made combination! R.I.P Mr Challis!! #ThisMorning.

John’s co-star Sue Holderness revealed last week how he was “feeling low” as she appeared on Loose Women.

She explained that John wasn’t feeling great at the time but reassured fans as she added: “Let’s all have positive thinking.

“But don’t be too upset, we had lunch in the pub three weeks ago, and two weeks ago, exactly I spend all day with him filming a little documentary about Only Fools.

“He’s low at the moment, but enough positive thinking, and he’ll get home, have some rest, and he’ll be back and having us all laugh again very soon.”

This Morning airs weekdays at 10am on ITV. 
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