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John Challis reveals fans shout 'Marlene' at him every day

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The BBC show which is marking its 40th year today (September 8) saw Challis star alongside Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst as the ‘dodgy dealers’ of Peckham. The tour named Only Fools and Boycie was meant to run in venues across the UK until November. However, at the age of 79 the TV icon has run into some bad health meaning he is unfit enough to complete it.

The statement from tour promoter A Way With Media said: “Due to ill health, John’s tour is cancelled with immediate effect.

“He completed the first show of his present tour, intending to continue. However, he has been advised to cancel further engagements.”

In another statement, the venue Komedia Bath revealed some more information concerning the actor’s health condition.

The statement on their website read: “John received a cancer diagnosis two years hence and is not fit to perform.”

Despite his diagnosis Challis has still been able to work previously. Last year he made the documentary Boycie In Belgrade explaining why Only Fools was such a hit with the Serbian people.

In response to the documentary Challis was formally offered honorary Serbian citizenship to which Challis responded: “I was just flabbergasted. It’s the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me really.”

However, it seems the actor’s health has declined since last year.

Although the star has not released any further details about his diagnosis, his character Boycie was rarely seen without a cigar in his hand. Smoking is a common cause of multiple cancers including in the mouth, stomach, throat, advair allergic reaction and photo and pancreas.

In spite of this, Challis revealed in an interview with Surrey Live that apart from the moustache he is nothing like his character, including smoking cigars.

Signs it could be cancer

Finding cancer early means it is easier to treat. That’s why it is important to be aware of any new or worrying symptoms.

The NHS reiterate that although it is unlikely to be cancer, it is important to speak to a GP so they can investigate and refer you to a specialist if needed.

Changes in bowel habits

If you have noticed changes in your bowel activity for three weeks or more it might be a sign to get a second opinion. Changes to be aware of include the following:

  • Tummy discomfort
  • Blood in your stool
  • Diarrhoea or constipation for no obvious reason
  • A feeling of not having fully emptied your bowels after going to the toilet
  • Pain in your stomach or back passage (anus).


Bloating occurs when your gastrointestinal tract (GI) is filled with air or gas. The GI tract runs from your mouth to your anus and includes the entire digestive system. If you feel you are bloated for three weeks or more and for no specific reason, it is important to speak to a GP.


Unexplained or unexpected bleeding can also be a sign of cancer. Blood can come from various places so it is best to be aware. Blood in your urine, between periods, postmenopausal bleeding, bleeding from your bottom, blood when you cough and blood when you vomit are all signs of unexplained bleeding.

Chest pain, breathlessness and coughing

A persistent cough that you cannot seem to get rid of can be an early cancer warning sign. This also includes shortness of breath and chest pain. These symptoms are common for other conditions too, including pneumonia. It is still important to talk to a medical professional if you are experiencing these symptoms.

Lumps in your breast

An undiscovered lump or a lump that is rapidly increasing in size elsewhere in your body needs to be examined by a GP. If a doctor suspects you have cancer, they will refer you to a specialist.


Moles are extremely common and most people have them on their skin. Usually they are nothing to worry about unless they change size, shape or colour. The NHS recommends to get moles checked if you notice or experience the following:

  • Changes shape or looks uneven
  • Changes colour, gets darker or has more than two colours
  • Starts itching, crusting, flaking or bleeding
  • Gets larger or more raised from the skin.

Unexplained weight loss

Unintentional weight loss and or weight loss that cannot be explained by changes to your diet, exercise routine or stress is best to get checked out. This could be a sign of pancreas or stomach cancer as tumours grow on organs involved with the digestive system.

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