Sir David Jason has opened up about the sad death of his friend and Only Fools and Horses co-star John Challis.
John Challis played the character of Boycie alongside David Jason’s Del Boy in the legendary BBC sitcom, from it’s inception in 1981 through to the final show in 2003.
Appearing on This Morning, 81-year-old David Jason opened up about the loss of his friend and fellow actor. He said: “It wasn’t a complete surprise because poor old John hadn’t been well for the last month or two.”
David continued: “He went downhill so fast, very rapidly, that one minute we were thinking he was on the road to recovery and sadly it just took him.
John’s family confirmed the sad news of his passing in a statement on Sunday 19th September, saying he died peacefully in his sleep.
The statement, which was shared on social media, read: ‘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.
‘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.
‘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 – when everyone will be welcome to come along.’
David also mentioned the admiration he had for his friend John. He added: “It comes as a bit of a surprise sometimes that John Challis was such a kind and such an ordinary, lovable chap, totally different to the character Boycie that he played.
Gerry and the Pacemakers star Gerry Marsden sadly died at the age of 78 in January.
His friend Pete Price said the singer, known for hits like ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and ‘Ferry Across The Mersey’, died after a short illness.
Former Bond girl and Charlie’s Angels actress Tanya Roberts sadly died at the age of 65 in January, after an unspecified illness caused both liver and kidney failure.
Chef and restaurateur Albert Roux sadly passed away in January at the age of 85.
Following the sad news, a number of famous chefs paid tribute to Albert, with Gordan Ramsey writing, ‘So so sad the hear about the passing of this legend, the man who installed Gastronomy in Britain’. (sic)
Doris Hobday (Tipton Twins)
One of Britain’s oldest twins, Doris Hobday, sadly passed away on the 5th January after a battle with COVID-19. Her family released a heartbreaking statement which revealed the sad news.
Former TOWIE star and owner of SugarHut nightclub Mick Norcross was found dead at his home on Thursday 21st January, at the age of 57.
Essex Police confirmed the devastating news of Mick’s passing.
They said, “We were called to an address in Brentwood Road, Bulphan shortly before 3.15pm on Thursday 21 January.
“Sadly, a man inside was pronounced dead. His death is not being treated as suspicious and a file will be prepared for the coroner.”
Saved by the Bell actor Dustin Diamond sadly passed away at the age of 44 on the 1st February, just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
Captain Sir Tom Moore
After raising nearly £33 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, Captain Sir Tom Moore sadly passed away at the amazing age of 100 on the 2nd February.
Captain Sir Tom Moore passed away in hospital from Covid-19 and Pneumonia surrounded by his loving family.
The Sound of Music star Christopher Plummer sadly passed away at the age of 91 at the beginning February, peacefully at his home in Connecticut, with his wife of 53-years, Elaine Taylor.
Motown legend and co-founder of The Supremes Mary Wilson sadly passed away at her home in February, at the age of 76.
British actor Ronald Pickup sadly died at the age of 80 in February, with his agent telling PA, “Ronald Pickup passed away peacefully yesterday after a long illness surrounded by his wife and family. He will be deeply missed.”
Coronation Street legend Johnny Briggs, who played the role of Mike Baldwin on the soap for 30 years, sadly passed away at the age of 85 in February, after suffering with a short illness.
Former Newcastle United and West Ham United football manager Glenn Roeder sadly passed away at the age of 65 in February, following a long illness.
American actress Erica Watson, best known for her roles in Empire and Chicago, tragically passed away in Jamaica at the end of February, after complications with Covid-19. She was just 48-years-old.
Australian music industry icon Michael Gudinski sadly died in his sleep at the age of 68 in March. Musicians such as Ed Sheeran and Kylie Minogue paid touching tributes to the promoter.
Ian St John
Former Liverpool FC striker Ian St John passed away at the age of 82 at the start of March.
Paying tribute to their former player on social media, Liverpool FC wrote, ‘We are deeply saddened by the passing of a true Anfield legend, Ian St John. The thoughts of everyone at Liverpool Football Club are with Ian’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time. Rest in peace, Ian St John 1938-2021.’ (sic)
The Vicar Of Dibley actor Trevor Peacock sadly died at the age of 89 from a dementia-related illness in March.
Murray Walker OBE
Motor racing commentator Murray Walker, also known as the voice of Formula One, sadly passed away at the age of 97 in March.
The British Racing Drivers’ Club said in a statement, “It’s with great sadness we share the news of the passing of BRDC Associate Member Murray Walker OBE.
“A friend, a true motorsport legend, the nation’s favourite commentator and a contagious smile. We thank Murray for all he has done for our community. RIP our friend.”
Top Gear and ‘Queen of the Nürburgring’ Sabine Schmitz sadly passed away at the age of 51 in March, following a four-year battle with cancer.
Leeds United legend Peter Lorimer sadly died at the aged 74 following a long term illness. His death was announced in a statement on the club’s official website, which read, “It is with great sadness, Leeds United has learned of the passing of club legend Peter Lorimer this morning at the age of 74 following a long-term illness.”
Former England striker Frank Worthington sadly died at the age of 72 in March, following a long illness.
Oscar-nominated actor George Segal passed away at the age of 87 in March following bypass surgery complications.
His wife Sonia confirmed the sad news saying, “The family is devastated to announce that this morning George Segal passed away due to complications from bypass surgery.”
Friday Night Dinner star Paul Ritter sadly passed away at the age of 54 in April after suffering from a brain tumour, confirmed by his agent in a statement.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
On Friday 9th April it was announced by Buckingham Palace that Prince Phillip had sadly died, aged 99.
The Palace said in a statement, “It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle.
“Further announcements will made in due course.
“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss.”
Reality TV star Nikki Grahame, who rose to fame as a contestant on Big Brother, sadly passed away at the age of 38 on Friday 9th April. A statement from her representative said, “It is with immeasurable sadness that Nikki Grahame passed away in the early hours of Friday 9th April 2021. Please respect the privacy of Nikki’s friends and family at this tragic and difficult time.”
Actress Helen McCrory, best known for playing Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders, sadly died at the age of 52 in April.
Her husband Damian Lewis said in a statement, ‘I’m heartbroken to announce that after an heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family.
‘She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.’
37-year-old Jockey Lorna Brooke sadly died in hospital in April following a tragic fall at Taunton earlier in the month.
A statement said, “It is with deep sadness that we have to share the tragic news that Lorna Brooke passed away yesterday. Her family thank everyone for their kindness in the last few weeks, particularly the staff at Southmead Hospital who were so professional.
“They will be having a private funeral and will hold a celebration of Lorna’s life once Covid restrictions allow.”
Songwriter and producer Jim Steinman, best known for his work with Meat Loaf, died aged 73 on Monday 19th April. Jim Steinman wrote Meat Loaf’s debut album, the rock classic ‘Bat Out of Hell’, in 1977 and it went on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time shifting more than 50 million units worldwide.
Bay City Rollers singer Les McKeown suddenly died at the age of 65 on Tuesday 20th April. His family said in a statement, “It is with profound sadness that we announce the death of our beloved husband and father Leslie Richard McKeown. Leslie died suddenly at home on Tuesday 20 April 2021.
“We are currently making arrangements for his funeral and ask for privacy after the shock of our profound loss. Thank you. Keiko and Jubei McKeown.”
Former Ex On The Beach star Ashley Cain and his partner Safiyya Vorajee confirmed the heartbreaking news in April that their eight-month-old daughter Azaylia had sadly passed away after losing her battle with Leukemia.
Ashley wrote on Instagram, ‘Rest In Paradise Princess 👼🏼🌈 I will always hold you in my heart until I can hold you again in heaven ❤️😢 #AzayliaDiamondCain’ #(sic)
Midnight Run and Beethoven actor Charles Grodin sadly passed away at the age of 86 after a battle with bone marrow cancer.
Radio presenter Lisa Shaw sadly passed away at the age of 44 in May, following a short illness
Max Mosley, the former chief of Formula One, sadly passed away aged 81 in May after suffering from cancer
Samuel E Wright
Samuel E Wright, known for Sebastian in Disney’s The Little Mermaid movie, sadly died at the age of 74 in May. The cause of his death was not confirmed.
Actor Kevin Clark, best known for playing the role of school boy drummer Freddy “Spazzy McGee” Jones in 2004 film School of Rock, tragically passed away after being hit by a car in Chicago whilst out on his bicycle in May.
His former co-stars paid emotional tributes, including Jack Black, Miranda Cosgrove and Rivkah Reyes.
Gogglebox star Pete McGarry sadly passed away following a short illness at the age of 71 in June.
Gogglebox bosses released the following statement: ‘We are deeply saddened to announce that Gogglebox star Pete McGarry passed away at the age of 71 this weekend with his family by his side after a short illness. Our thoughts are with Linda, their children and grandchildren.’
Robert Downey Sr.
American actor Robert Downey Sr. sadly passed away at the age of 85 in July, following a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr confirmed the sad passing of his father, writing: ‘Last night, dad passed peacefully in his sleep after years of enduring the ravages of Parkinson’s.
‘He was a true maverick filmmaker, and remained remarkably optimistic throughout. According to my stepmom’s calculations, they were happily married for just over 2000 years.
‘Rosemary Rogers-Downey, you are a saint, and our thoughts and prayers are with you.’
Sebastian Eubank, the son of boxing legend Chris Eubank, sadly passed away just days before his 30 birthday in July, after suffering a heart attack whilst in the sea in Dubai.
Former darts world champion Andy Fordham sadly died at the age of 59 in July. Nicknamed ‘The Viking’ Fordham won the 2004 BDO World Championship, beating Mervyn King in the final.
American actor and comedian Jackie Mason sadly died at the age of 93 in July. The actor, who won a Tony Award and an Emmy for voicing Krusty the Clown’s father on The Simpsons, enjoyed a great career.
Dieter Brummer, who played the role of Shane Parrish in Home and Away, sadly passed away at the age of 45 in July.
His family confirmed the sad news, writing online: “Heartbreaking news. We have lost a free spirit. Vale Dieter Brummer. Way too young. Way too soon. My sincerest, deepest condolences to his beautiful sister Karlene and all of Dieters family & friends. Keep flying young fella.”
Dusty Hill, bassist, co-vocalist, and one third of ZZ Top, sadly passed away in his sleep at the age of 72 in July.
A statement on the band’s social media accounts read: “We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX. We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that “Blues Shuffle in C.”
“You will be missed greatly, amigo. Frank & Billy”
Iconic actress Una Stubbs sadly passed away in August at the age of 84. Una was best known for her role as Aunt Sally in Worzel Gummidge, before starring in BBC drama Sherlock.
Her sons Joe and Christian Henson and Jason Gilmore said in a statement: “Mum passed away quietly today with her family around her, in Edinburgh. We ask for privacy and understanding at this most difficult and sad of times.”
Comedian Sean Lock, best known for his role on TV game show 8 Out Of 10 Cats, sadly passed away from Cancer at the age of 58 in August.
Japanese actor and martial arts legend Sonny Chiba sadly passed away at the age of 82 in August, after suffering from COVID-19 complications.
Gogglebox star Mary Cook sadly passed away at the age of 92 in August. The TV star died in hospital surrounded by her family.
Brian David Travers
UB40 star Brian David Travers sadly died of cancer at the age of 62 in August.
The band confirmed the news on Twitter, writing: ‘Brian passed away yesterday evening with his family by his side, after a long and heroic battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with Brian’s wife Lesley, his daughter Lisa and son Jamie.
‘We are all devastated by this news and ask that you respect the family’s need for privacy at this time.’
Legendary Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts sadly died at the age of 80 in August, with the band’s publicist and DJ Bernard Doherty confirming the devastating news.
In August, Channel 4 confirmed the sad news that Gogglebox star Andy Michaels had passed away at the age of 61, with his family releasing a statement.
The Michael family, made up of dad Andy, mum Carolyne, son Louis, and daughters Alex and Katie, have appeared on the popular show since series one way back in 2013.
On 29th August 2021, Ed Asner, who was known for his role as Santa in Elf and voicing Carl in Disney’s Up, sadly passed away. The actor’s family revealed the sad news on Twitter.
Girls Aloud singer Sarah Harding lost her battle with cancer on Sunday 5th September at the age of 39. Her mum Marie said: “It’s with deep heartbreak that today I’m sharing the news that my beautiful daughter Sarah has sadly passed away. Many of you will know of Sarah’s battle with cancer and that she fought so strongly from her diagnosis until her last day. She slipped away peacefully this morning. I’d like to thank everyone for their kind support over the past year. It meant the world to Sarah and it gave her great strength and comfort to know she was loved. I know she won’t want to be remembered for her fight against this terrible disease – she was a bright shining star and I hope that’s how she can be remembered instead.
Michael K. Williams
American actor, Michael K. Williams, best known for his role in The Wire, was found dead at his New York apartment at the age of 54 in September.
His long-time representative Marianna Shafran of Shafran PR told The Hollywood Reporter: “It is with deep sorrow that the family announces the passing of Emmy nominated actor Michael Kenneth Williams. They ask for your privacy while grieving this unsurmountable loss.”
Erik Cowie, a zookeeper who appeared alongside the infamous Joe Exotic on Netflix’s hit documentary series Tiger King, sadly died in September 2021, aged 53.
Former England, Tottenham and Chelsea striker Jimmy Greaves sadly died at the age of 81 in September, with his former club Spurs announcing the sad news.
The Premier League club said in a statement: “We are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great Jimmy Greaves, not just Tottenham’s record goalscorer but the finest marksman this country has ever seen. Jimmy passed away at home in the early hours of this morning, aged 81.”
John Challis, best known for his role as Boycie in Only Fools and Horses, lost his battle with cancer in September, sadly passing away at the age of 79.