John Challis: Loving our real home from home
My wife and I live just across from the Shropshire border, in leafy North Herefordshire. And yet since we moved to the countryside near Leintwardine, Shropshire has always felt like a home to us.
A number of scenes for the Only Fools and Horses spin-off, The Green Green Grass, were filmed in Ludlow while I’m a patron of that town’s Assembly Rooms – a thriving arts centre that provides a great programme through the year.
I am a regular at the Ludlow Food Festival – and the Shrewsbury Food Festival, come to that – and it seems we have a huge number of connections with people in the county.
It’s not just the personal that links us to Shropshire: it’s also the professional.
Each year, I take my one-man show on the road: Only Fools And Boycie. And most times, I try to bring the show to Shropshire so that I can catch up with old friends and share a few of the stories from my career.
In recent years, we’ve visited Bridgnorth a couple of times, Ludlow, Shrewsbury twice and also played just across the border, in Tenbury Wells and Wrexham. I’ve enjoyed all of the shows. I’m back on the road in spring for a 12-date tour that will focus on the Midlands and Mid-Wales. And I’m delighted that we’ll be playing in the region once more.
This time, we’re visiting Oswestry’s Attfield Theatre on March 25 as well as the Albert Hall, in Llandrindod Wells, on March 24. We won’t be neglecting our Birmingham friends, either, with a date at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall on March 10. I can’t wait.
The show has evolved in recent years and is very popular with fans of Only Fools and Horses. I get the chance to let people into the secrets from the set as well as telling people about my experiences on Dr Who, Coronation Street and Benidorm – but I’ll save that for another column.
There are also funny stories about a meeting with The Beatles, who asked me to be in their film The Magical Mystery Tour.
Only Fools And Boycie is a delightful, funny (or so I’ve been told) family show that’s suitable for all ages and I meet ’n’ greet people afterwards for autographs and selfies. I’m delighted to be bringing it back to Shropshire and Mid-Wales this spring – and I hope to see plenty of you at those shows.