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Boycie bounces from Stafford to Spain during Shakespeare rehearsals

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: June 08, 2014

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JOHN Challis has always loved the variety an actor's life brings which is just as well because in the last week he has been from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Last week he took a break from rehearsals for the forthcoming Stafford Festival Shakespeare production of As You Like It to fly to Spain to record two episodes of Benidorm.

"It's like two opposite ends of the theatrical scale. Flitting between the two is slightly disorientating," said the actor who is still loved by millions as Boycie from his Only Fools and Horses days.

It's a role that has afforded him a lot of opportunity and one that will never leave him.

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When we spoke he had just come back from grabbing a coffee in the town during which he had a queue of people waiting for his autograph.

Back in Bard land, the role of Jacques was proving to be a little more complex. "I'm still struggling with it a bit because he's melancholy, not like the fools who rely on their fooling about and their humour.

"He's got quite a negative outlook. I'm not quite sure if he approves of Touchstone or not or whether he's jealous of him but he wishes he was a motley fool because he thinks that fools have more licence and can get away with more.

"He's quite cynical so it's difficult to know how much is an act and how much he truly believes but he's an extraordinary character and very separate, almost like he's on a different planet.

"It's not an easy part, you have got to work out where he's coming from."

Where he's coming from could be quite a different place than some Shakespeare aficionados might expect.

"I think he's quite lonely. He quite likes Orlando because he says he has pretty things to say. He could easily be one of those ambiguous people. I think he likes young men. Whether that makes him gay or not I don't know. Some of the lines edge in that direction but I get the impression he wouldn't get physically obsessed by anybody."

With a CV so crammed it's hard to imagine there is a nook he hasn't investigated. There is one thing still on his wishlist.

"I'm a big fan of Crime Scene Investigation. I'm in love with Marg Heldenberger (Catherine Willows in CSI). We contacted each other on Twitter. There are a lot of English actors in it. It would be fantastic to do it as long as Marg Heldenberger was in it.

"I'm a lucky man. Only Fools and Horses has opened all these doors and it's a constant source of interest to people."

As You Like It will spend eight days in Ludlow from June 14 before coming home to Stafford Castle, June 29 -July 12.See www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk.

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