John Challis: Only Fools and Horses star details near-death experience with crocodiles
Only Fools and Horses: John Challis discusses show reunions
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While John Challis is known to many as car dealer Boycie, in real life, the actor couldn’t be further from his character. John, 78, has opened up about his passion for conservationist work that saw him have a near-death experience.
The kayak turned over and threw me and my guide into the river.
Bristol-born John who recently revealed that Only Fools and Horses is a smash hit in Serbia was left terrified during a routine excursion in 1992.
After a friend of The Green Green Grass star won a competition to go on a safari holiday thanks to the conservation organisation, Tusk, he found himself getting closer to a herd of wild elephants and hippos in Zimbabwe.
Following a night camping, John and his group made the decision to venture down the Zambezi River in a kayak.
However, their routine excursion left John in a state of distress and left him feeling seriously ill for several days.
He wrote: “We had quite a dangerous moment on the Zambezi River when we were kayaking above the Victoria Falls.
“We went down the river and passed a herd of elephants having a drink.”
Writing in The Telegraph, John continued: “Hippos and crocodiles resting on little beaches looked at us as if to say: ‘Oh, tourists. Yum yum.’
“Then, without warning, I got sucked down into a ‘boil’, which is where the currents mix and swirl around.”
Recalling his horrific ordeal, John went on to say: “The kayak turned over and threw me and my guide into the river.
“I swallowed a mouthful of the Zambezi and came up under the kayak, not to be defeated, under the water I went again, coming up the other side, gratefully gulping down lungfuls of air while keeping an eye out for the crocodiles.”
Explaining the eventful moment further, he penned: “Eventually I reached the shore, but it took me half a day to recover.
“I didn’t feel well after accidentally drinking all that river waterer but it was so exciting, I look back and think: I cannot believe we did that.”
Despite his near-death experience, John has since been bank to Zimbabwe, admitting that it is “terribly sad” to see people walking around with guns in an attempt to protect wild animals.
During his first trip, John recalled a terrifying experience that saw a lion enter their camp while they were sleeping.
He said that after waking up during a night camping, he noticed the horses on his trip were not acting normally.
“There was a rancid smell of cat – a lion had been sniffing around,” he said.
Discussing his latest BBC sitcom, Boyce in Belgrade, John told Express.co.uk: “My own one-man show, Only Fools and Boycie, which I’ve been doing for about five years now, all over the place, sees me feeling stories about Only Fools and the rest of my career.
“Luckily a producer from Serbia saw it and I met him afterwards and he said, ‘Why don’t you come out to Belgrade?”
“I said, ‘Well I’ve already been there,’ ‘No, no, you must come out again, they love the show and we’ll make a documentary, about why it’s so popular.’”
“And so that’s what happened and it became Boycie in Belgrade,” he continued.
“I’ve never done anything like it before but I was sort of presenting and of course, it’s not the easiest thing in the world in a foreign country.
“But I found the people really friendly and of course they were delighted anyone connected with the show and crowds followed us about all over the place.”
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