JOHN Challis, the actor best known for playing Boycie in Only Fools & Horses, is heading to Chard this September.

He will be speaking at TV gardener Toby Buckland’s Harvest Festival in n Forde Abbey’s magnificent Great Hall.

Bristol-born Challis takes to the stage to share the trials and tribulations of restoring an ancient abbey, the topic of his latest book Wigmore Abbey.

It tells the story of how Challis and wife Carol swapped city life for the countryside to restore an old abbot’s lodge and overgrown garden in Herefordshire.

Challis said: “I’ve never been to Forde Abbey but friends have told me it’s beautiful and I’m especially looking forward to seeing the gardens which I hear are stunning in September.”

Challis has Somerset connections as his mother was born in Bath and he spent summer holidays as a child, in North Cadbury. He is an avid follower of Somerset county cricket, being a huge fan of batsman Marcus Trescothick:

He said: “Marcus came back stage at a panto I was in a few years back at Weston-super-Mare and I was completely starstruck. My team allegiance always goes with my favourite cricketer and Marcus is one my heroes.”

John Challis is at Forde Abbey on September 15 and 16. For tickets go online at