An iconic character from one of Britain's best-loved sitcoms has showed up to unveil a new £7 million life-saving helicopter.

Only Fools and Horses star John Challis - better known as Boycie - was excited to see the Midlands Air Ambulance's new flying machine, which will soon be saving lives across the region.

The actor renowned for his amusing pronunciation of his on-screen wife's name - "Marlene" - was joined by decorated sportsmen Neil Back and Sir Lee Pearson.

The trio are ambassadors for the air ambo and unveiled the new chopper at the charity's RAF Cosford airbase in Shropshire.

Sir Lee Pearson, Neil Back and John Challis with the Midlands Air Ambulance crew

Brendan Connor, chairman of Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, said: "Excellent pre-hospital patient care is at the heart of everything we do.

"To support our mission, build resilience, and strengthen the long-term sustainability of the charity, we made the strategic decision to invest a proportion of donations into a larger, upgraded H145 model.

"The new airframe will enable us to reduce our operating costs and complements our plans to further improve pre-hospital care in the region."

The state-of-the-art Airbus helicopter is one of three strategically-located air ambulance helicopters serving the Midlands. One is based at Tatenhill Airfield.

The new helicopter will undertake an average of three missions every day.

Compared to previous models, it is quicker and travels further without the need for refuelling.

Its larger interior means more medics and equipment can be carried onboard.

More information about the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity and how to support the organisation is available by calling the team on 0800 840 2040 or visiting

Neil Back was a flanker in England's Rugby World Cup-winning side in 2003, while Lee Pearson is a gold medal-winning Paralympics horse rider.

Do you know the different emergency helicopters?

When an emergency is in an area which is hard to reach, police and ambulance crews will send out the helicopter to reach them faster but it can often be difficult to know which one is which.

We thought we would put together a guide of the helicopters which may be use to attend emergencies in Burton, South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire so you know who is out helping those in need.

Derbyshire Police launch Operation Relentless at the Police H.Q. Buttlerley. Pic shows, Police Helicopter about to take off.
A police helicopter about to take off

Blue and yellow - this is the police helicopter and can often be spotted out helping to find missing people or hunting for criminals on the run.

Derbyshire, Leicester and Rutland air ambulance feature
Derbyshire, Leicester and Rutland air ambulance, based at East Midlands Airport

Yellow - this is the Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance and will be sent out to help those who find themselves in trouble in hard to reach areas in South Derbyshire and North West Leicestershire. It is based in Derby.

Barton Marina, Barton Under Needwood, Staffordshire - Firefighters tackle a fire that has taken hold of four boats moored at the marina.
Pictures show the fire, Emergency services, Midlands Air Ambulance and the boats on fire
The Midlands Air Ambulance

Red and yellow - this is the Midlands Air Ambulance and has helicopters based at Tatenhill Airfield. This will be sent out to emergencies in Burton and East Staffordshire.