Without Boycie, Del Boy would not have been the character he became. It is the rivalry, the sparring, the oneupmanship, and the strange affection between the characters played by John Challis and David Jason, that gave Only Fools and Horses many of its most humorous moments.
Boycie is so funny because he is an amalgam of the sort of characters many of us knew. It was not hard to imagine lines spoken by Boycie being spoken by various people with whom we were familiar.
Boycie strives to give the appearance of sophistication, he pretends to possess class, but he is what my late father would have described as a “wideboy.” In those times before digital record keeping, it is not hard to imagine that cars sold by Boycie were clocked (the odometer being rewound to create the impression the vehicle had been used far less than was the case). In one episode of Only Fools and Horses, it is revealed that Boycie was convicted of perjury, embezzlement, conspiring to pervert the course of justice, the fraudulent conversion of traveller’s cheques and attempting to bribe the mayor, not the stuff of a suave middle class businessman.
Despite his assumed air of superiority, Boycie seemed always to fall foul of the wiles of Del Boy.
“I remember a few years back when I had that important client coming over from Belgium and I was trying to get tickets to Wimbledon to impress him. You said “leave it to me Boycie, I gotta contact at Wimbledon.”
“I got you two tickets.”
“That’s right! They drew nil-nil with Ipswich!”
It was a genuine laugh out loud moment. It was hard to imagine a contrast greater than that between the environs of the All England Tennis Club in SW19 and the old Plough Lane ground that was home to Wimbledon Football Club.
Boycie won our hearts because he was not only someone whose character was like that of some we knew, he was someone like ourselves.
If you have grown up in a council house, if you have never had money to spare, if you have had to spoof and pretend, hoping not to be caught out too quickly, then to wear an expensive suit and trench coat as Boycie does, and to drive a Mercedes Benz, would not be a bad outcome.
Of course, Boycie, like all of us who have spoofed, gets caught out. Everyone knows he is not really middle class, anymore than is Del Boy. But Boycie captures an essence of those of us who would be more at home in a flat in Peckham than in a penthouse in Park Lane.