BOYCIE actor John Challis has told Vibe how he was once ‘kidnapped’ while living in south east London.
During the war (as Uncle Albert would say) Bristol-born John’s father was in the Admiralty stationed in London and the family rented in Sidcup, Bromley and Beckenham before eventually settling near to Epsom in Surrey when John was an infant.
John told me: “I was only about six months old but I’m fond of saying I was the only child evacuated to London during the war.”
One of his few recollections of his time in the News Shopper area is the time he was ‘taken’.
He said: “Not that I remember it too well, but I got kidnapped by an older girl.
“My mother was talking to someone over the fence and she left me in the garden.
“She came back and I had disappeared. You can imagine she was panic stricken. Eventually I was found sitting in a bombed out building with a girl who must have been five or six.
“She had taken me away and sat me on a broken old chair where we were pretending to have a cup of tea.
“My mother never got over that.”
The 71-year-old, who played snobby south London second hand car dealer Boycie in the long-running sitcom Only Fools and Horses and its spin-off The Green Green Grass, is heading to The Orchard Theatre in Dartford for An Evening with Boycie on March 30.
He said: “So many people ask me how I got there and how it happened so I tell the stories in the lead up to Only Fools and Horses and the Green Green Grass, what has happened since then and lots of stories from those days.”
The evening is interspersed with clips, there is a chance to ask John questions and afterwards to meet him and have copies of his books (he’s written two autobiographies and a novel) sign and grab a picture with him.
John, who is a regular at the show’s fan conventions, said: “I never lose sight of the fact that the audience put us where we are so it is nice to go out and meet people who have put their tellies on and watched.”
While David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst are making high profile comebacks as Del and Rodney in a sketch for Sport Relief, John is not involved.
He said: “It came out in the papers that I refused to do it. I don’t know where that came from because nobody ever asked me. It would have been difficult to refuse.”
Some have played up the idea of a full-scale comeback for the show, and John admits he would be open to it if the script was good enough.
He concedes it is unlikely given the passage of time and the passing of scriptwriter John Sullivan and major castmembers such as Roger Lloyd-Pack, who played Trigger.
He said: “I saw David at Roger’s funeral the other day and he said the same thing. It has got to be of a certain standard, I think.”
An Evening with Boycie is at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford on March 30. Tickets cost £15. Go to orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.See where else John’s appearing or order signed copies of his books at wigmorebooks.com