Only Fools and Horses musical: Boycie star John Callis says the show should be revived

Only Fools and Horses star John Challis who played Boycie has tipped the hit sitcom to make a successful return to TV screens with a new cast.

The actor said the “great feeling for old shows and nostalgia” could prompt a remake.

Nicholas Lyndhurst, who played Rodney in the BBC show, has shot down the prospect of more episodes with the original cast, saying too many of them have died.

But Challis believes it could be revived with young stars. “I think if they cast the characters young again it might take off,” said Challis, who watched the opening night of the musical adaptation of the sitcom in the West End.

“It might be slightly more difficult because it would have to match up to that original it would constantly be compared to. There’s a great feeling for the old shows and nostalgia.

“We all grew up with it and had such a ball doing it. It was so funny, in a pretty non-PC way which made it naughtier.”

Spivving image: John Challis, left, with Jeff Nicholson who plays Boycie in the musical (Dave Benett)
Spivving image: John Challis, left, with Jeff Nicholson who plays Boycie in the musical (Dave Benett)

A number of other classic TV sitcoms have been remade in recent years with mixed results. They include Porridge, with comedian Kevin Bishop playing the prison inmate grandson of Ronnie Barker’s Fletcher, and a one-off 2016 reboot of Are You Being Served?, which was widely panned by fans and critics.

Challis was joined by his former co-star Patrick Murray, who played young spiv Mickey Pearce, at last night’s show at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

He said a modern-day Boycie would probably ditch dodgy car dealing for white-collar crime. Speaking in character, he said he would now be doing “some nefarious activity somewhere”. “He would’ve found something — something in the IT world. He’d have his little team with him and they’d be cooking up something on the net somewhere. Something not quite legal.”

Starring in the musical are Tom Bennett as Derek “Del Boy” Trotter, Ryan Hutton as his brother Rodney, and comedian Paul Whitehouse as Grandad.

Based on the episode Dates, the musical chronicles Del Boy lying about his career as a market trader to impress Raquel, an up-and-coming actress played by Dianne Pilkington. Meanwhile Rodney tries to scrape enough cash together so he and his fiancée Cassandra can buy a flat.

Whitehouse, who co-wrote the musical with Jim Sullivan, son of the BBC sitcom’s creator John, said it was a “joy and a privilege” to be in the show.

He said: “I watched Only Fools at the beginning. I have a lot of affection for Grandad. Although he was cheeky, he was a bit vulnerable. So I thought that would be a nice character to play.”

The musical also features songs by late musician Chas Hodges, of duo Chas and Dave, and John Sullivan, who died in 2011. Joan Hodges, Chas’s wife, said the show was “wonderful”, and said her husband, who died last September, would have “loved” it.