AS TRIBUTES have been paid to actor John Challis following his death, the

Gazette looks back to when the Only Fools and Horses star visited Basingstoke.

Best known for playing Boycie in the BBC sitcom, the 79-year-old’s family said he died “peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer”.

Tributes have poured in from fellow actors including his co-star Sir David Jason who described Challis as a “wonderful actor” and “a gentleman in the true sense of the word”.

In February 2013, fans queued up at Basingstoke’s Waterstones to meet the actor, who played Boycie throughout Only Fools and Horses time on air from 1981 to 2003, appearing in 33 episodes.

The actor was in Basingstoke to sign copies of his book, Boycie and Beyond, which followed on from his first autobiography Being Boycie.

It documented the height of his success in Only Fools and Horses with anecdotes about working alongside actors David Jason (Del Boy) and Nicholas Lyndhurst (Rodney).

Accompanied by his fourth wife, Carol, he happily chatted to fans waiting patiently inside the Festival Place store for him to sign their copy of the book.

The TV legend told the Gazette at the time: “The character of Boycie follows me around. It’s interesting for people to see the real person. I have been through ups and downs like anyone else.”

In a statement realised following his death, Challis’ family said: “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.

“Be assured that in the future there will be an occasion to celebrate John’s life – when everyone will be welcome to come along.”