Marleeeeene! There was double trouble-and-strife for Boycie when Only Fools And Horses star John Challis arrived for a book signing at The Star, writes Graham Walker.
Shop staff greeted him wearing masks of his TV wife, Marlene, played by Sue Holderness.
John, aged 70, who signed copies of his books, Being Boycie and Boycie And Beyond, revealed the role has been more a blessing than a curse, as he still gets to make people smile.
He also revealed how his dad was born in Sheffield and his aunt Enid still lives in Stannington.
“My dad was a Sheffield Wednesday fan and I used to go to the games with him as a kid,” said John, who grew up to be an Arsenal supporter - but still looks out for the Owls match scores.
“I’ve been in the acting business for 50 years, with some funny stories I’ve collected over the years, so I decided to write it down, in these two books.”
So what’s it like Being Boycie?
“It’s terrific,” he adds.
“The role gives people so much please. He makes people smile. I feel lucky to have been part of it and absolutely delighted that it keeps going on and on. It appeals to al generations.
“It’s very heart-warming when people come up to say the show has helped them through very difficult times.
“So I’ve been delighted to be part of that. Even though the character is not one of the most loveable characters in there.
“But you have to have someone like that, who is a bit superior.
“Sometimes, you wish you could be anonymous. If you’re having a meal with the family or something and you just want a quiet time and somebody lurches over to you slightly the worse for wear and asks me where Marlene is. At times like that, you wish he’d go away.
“But mostly, no. Every day of my life I’ll meet somebody who’s a big fan of the show and he gives everybody a lot of pleasure.
“People shout Marlene at me. ‘My name’s not Marlene’, I say.
“It’s very often three lads and I can see them sort of muttering as they come towards me. As they pass me they’ll go, ‘Marlene’. I turn around and they laugh like a bunch of schoolgirls, which is really nice.
“You get the impression sometimes that people would prefer you to be Boycie. It’s a charter you’ve invented. But he follows me around all over the place. He’s probably sitting next to me right now.
“Everybody wants a bit of the voice and perhaps a bit of the laugh, but it’s great. because it makes everybody smile.”
He’s now writing a novel and is about to star in a touring stage version of the radio show, Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. He also has a one-man show.