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John Challis Interview

By Graham Kibble-White The Scotsman, 23 March 2005

John Challis, 62, was born in Bristol. During a long career he has appeared in such classic British TV shows as Doctor Who, Coronation Street and The Sweeney.

However, he’s best known for his role as shady businessman Boycie in Only Fools and Horses and is currently working on a spin-off series starring the character, which is due to air on BBC One later in the year.

He can be seen as part of UKTV Gold’s The Only Fools and Horses Long Weekend: The Guide to Being a Trotter from April 1-3 at 9pm.

Challis lives with his wife, Carol, in historic Wigmore Abbey, Herefordshire.

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR FIRST ACT AS RULER?

“I’d banish building on green field sites, and regenerate in the cities. It’s something quite close to my heart.”

WHO WOULD BE YOUR MOST TRUSTED ADVISER?

“The Prince of Wales, because I think he’s a good man. I like his ideas on architecture and the environment, and he’d be very useful as a foreign secretary because he’s travelled a bit and met a few people on the way. Plus, he’s got a bit of money.”

WHO WOULD YOU BANISH?

“I’d get rid of all levellers. They’re the people who want to chop off the tallest cornstalk in the field, and if a poppy appears, they strike it down. Everything’s got to be level and equal. It’s just appalling.”

WOULD YOU BE A DICTATOR OR A BENEVOLENT LEADER?

“I’d be benevolent, but I think everyone starts out trying to be nice. The trouble is there’s so much argument and dissension people grow into dictators, don’t they?”

WHO WOULD YOU SINGLE OUT FOR A KNIGHTHOOD AND WHY?

“John Sullivan who wrote Only Fools And Horses. The reason is because it would really embarrass him. He’s got an OBE and he’s quite embarrassed about that.”

WHO WOULD YOU SEND TO THE TOWER/PUT IN THE STOCKS?

“The whole of the Labour front bench. I think they’re ghastly. The socialist ethos seems to have disappeared – we’re now living under some kind of presidency. Horrible.”

WHICH LAW WOULD YOU ABOLISH?

“The hunting ban because I feel it’s against personal liberty.”

WHICH LAW WOULD YOU INTRODUCE?

“I’d ban poly-tunnels where they’re growing fruits all year round. I believe strawberries should be rare and special. Do you remember the excitement of going to the local grocers and seeing they’d finally arrived again?”

WHICH BUILDING WOULD YOU DEMOLISH AND WHY?

“All 1960s high-rise apartment blocks because they’re ugly and an offence to the landscape. I’d move the people out first though.”

WHICH RULER/MONARCH DO YOU MOST ADMIRE OR HAVE MOST IN COMMON WITH?

“Charles II, because after the Civil War he came back and made England fun to live in again. We’d had theatres, dancing and God knows what else abolished by the Puritans, and things had to change. The country was a depressing place to live in prior to him. Plus, he looks like me.”

IF YOU COULD CHANGE THE NATIONAL ANTHEM FOR ANOTHER PIECE OF MUSIC, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

“Land of Hope and Glory. I’m sure a lot of people say that, but I think it’s such a stirring piece of music.”