John Challis, star of the much-loved BBC comedy Only Fools and Horses, has spoken about his unfulfilled wish to play the Doctor.
Interviewed by the Mirror, Challis discloses that he wrote some speculative letters to the BBC:
“I have written two or three letters over the years when I’ve known that they are going to change the Doctor, saying: ‘What about this old face? I’ll have a go, I’d do this, I’ll do that, what do you think?'”
It’s an honest insight into what actors do to get work – let’s face it, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. And it worked for Tom Baker, of course, when he wrote just about the most legendary missive in the history of Doctor Who (more so even than Jo Grant’s magnificent ‘gone to get you a maggot’ in The Green Death) when he was struggling for work and ended up landing the part of the Doctor.
But it wasn’t to be for Challis, whose only TV appearance in Doctor Who came in The Seeds of Doom playing villainous heavy Scorby.
Major success came his way, though, when he was cast as cigar-chomping wheeler dealer Boycie in Only Fools and Horses, John Sullivan’s sitcom which after a slow start became one of the BBC’s biggest ever hits, running (with breaks) from 1981-2009. The show has recently been revived as a West End musical with a new cast.
“The character of Boycie lives on and people seem to want to see the character, it belongs to the nation. You might as well make people happy and I was very happy to be part of the show. It still makes me laugh.”
Now frequently appearing in his own one-man show, Challis remains a popular guest on the convention circuit both with Doctor Who and Only Fools and Horses fans.
Read the full interview, which includes Challis’s verdict on Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor at Mirror online.