John Challis issued warning about the future of comedy weeks before tragic death

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John Challis issued a warning about the future of comedy just weekend before his tragic death.

The Only Fools and Horses legend passed away aged 79 on Sunday, his family confirmed.

His loved ones said in a statement that he died "peacefully in his sleep, after a long battle with cancer".

It read: "A statement issued by his family published on Sunday afternoon 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."

John is best known for playing Boycie in the BBC sitcom and he recently criticised Beeb bosses for being too careful about what they are commissioning.

John also hit out at cancel culture, as every gag and opinion has the potential to offend someone.

He said at the time: "You've got to be so careful – the BBC are being so careful about what they're putting out and I think the world has changed.

"I think it's just gone too far. I'm just one of those people who's never done what all these people are being accused of anyway."

He added: "What does worry me is the impact on free speech. If you've had an opinion about something, someone's going to find that somewhere.

"With the internet it's become much more difficult."

John insisted that he has a clean slate as far as controversial comments

The show was partly intended as a satire on Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's "greed is good" capitalist agenda.

He added that there was no way a mainstream show would get commissioned now that reflects today's brutal economic realities.

He added: "The whole yuppie, Thatcher thing was very aspirational. She was encouraging people to get out there and be a bit selfish, I suppose; take care of your own life, with everybody else second.

"That attitude was fashionable at the time. But it's a very different world now."

The telly veteran had spent the summer celebrating the release of his Boycie In Begrade documentary on DVD, Blu-Ray and streaming services.

It shows him travelling to the Balkans to explore why Only Fools has a cult following in the country.

John previously said of their hero worship: "Everyone's in the same boat because everyone's trying to survive and earn a living, and they found that funny."

  • Only Fools and Horses

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