Top Boy

Top Boy is a British television crime drama series. Created and written by Ronan Bennett, the series is set on the fictional Summerhouse estate in the London Borough of Hackney.

Top Boy
Top Boy title card.PNG
GenreCrime drama
Created byRonan Bennett
Starring
Opening theme"Finished I Ain't" by Ghostpoet (Series 1)
Ending theme"Cold Win" by Ghostpoet (Series 2)
ComposersBrian Eno
Michael Asante
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series3
No. of episodes18 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersAubrey Graham (2019)[1]
Adel Nur (2019)[1]
Maverick Carter (2019)[1]
Jamal Henderson (2019)[1]
ProducersRonan Bennett
Charles Steel
Alasdair Flind
Laura Hastings-Smith
Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo (2019)
CinematographyTat Radcliffe
Christopher Ross
EditorsChris Wyatt
Matthew Tabern
Running time48 minutes (approx.)
Production companiesCowboy Films
Easter Partisan
DreamCrew (2019)
SpringHill Entertainment (2019)[1]
Release
Original networkChannel 4 (2011–2013)
Netflix (2019–present)
Picture formatHDTV 1080i (2011–2013)
4K Ultra HD (2019–present)
Audio formatStereo
Original release31 October 2011 (2011-10-31) –
present

The first series was broadcast on Channel 4 over four consecutive nights from 31 October to 3 November 2011. A DVD of the first series was issued on 22 July 2013.[2] A second series began airing on Channel 4 from 20 August 2013.[3] A DVD release of the second series followed on 16 September 2013.[4] Although storylines for a third series were proposed, the series was dropped by Channel 4 in 2014.[5]

Following interest from Canadian rapper Drake, it was announced in November 2017 that Netflix would revive the series and order a new season of ten episodes, with both Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson reprising their roles.[1] Series creator Bennett returned to script most episodes, along with the original creative team; Drake, Adel Nur, Maverick Carter, and Jamal Henderson all joined the series as executive producers.[6] The new season premiered on Netflix on 13 September 2019 and was presented as the first season, whilst the original series was added to Netflix under the name Top Boy: Summerhouse.[1]

PlotEdit

Series 1 (2011)Edit

The series follows the plight of Ra'Nell as he navigates the pitfalls of living on the crime-filled summerhouse estate after his mother, Lisa, is admitted to a mental hospital. Ra'Nell, who has gained a reputation around the estate for his volatile behaviour after stabbing his abusive father, is quiet and closed-off. While his mother is in hospital, he is cared for by her close friend, Leon, who was once a respected enforcer of the estate, but has since put his past behind him. Meanwhile, Lisa's friend Heather enlists Ra'Nell's help to grow a cannabis crop so she can earn enough money to move out of the estate and raise her unborn child somewhere safer.

Meanwhile, his best friend, Gem, finds himself in over his head when he begins to work as a drug dealer for Summerhouse kingpins Dushane and Sully. Gem is easily coerced and finds himself at the mercy of their trusted enforcer, Dris, who is ruthless and violent.

Dushane and Sully run the estate together with relative ease, but when Kamale, a rival drug dealer from London Fields, steals a large amount of their supply, they are forced to hunt down the thief before their supplier, Bobby Raikes, takes action. The urgency of the chase puts Dushane and Sully's partnership in jeopardy.

Series 2 (2013)Edit

After the police uncover a body, Dushane, Sully, and Dris are arrested. Dushane quickly realises that there is a snitch in their crew, and must deal with the repercussions. Meanwhile, Sully is attempting to start up his own crew to rival Dushane's with his friend Mike, a borderline-psychopathic ex-convict. When a deal with Dushane's Albanian business partners goes bad, he attempts to enlist Sully's help once more to take them out.

A young dealer, Michael, begins to fear for his life when the police force him to give information that could imprison Dushane.

Lisa is faced with eviction from her business when the landlord triples her rent, while Ra'Nell tries to better himself by attending football youth trials. Gem is in deep trouble with the vicious Vincent, who uses Gem as his pawn to complete drug deals. Meanwhile, Sully comes into contact with Jason, a neglected boy who is trying to survive in a world filled with drugs and murder. Gem and his father move to Ramsgate and Michael dies.

Series 3 (2019)Edit

Dushane has fled to Jamaica, where he is getting by working in his cousin's car-rental shop. When he makes a business deal with an imprisoned drug lord named Sugar, he returns to Summerhouse to sell Sugar's product and become Top Boy once again. However, a new crew from London Fields, headed by the ruthless Jamie, won't stand for Dushane stepping on their turf.

Sully is in prison and is caught in a power-struggle with Modie, a murderous drug-dealer who ran the rival London Fields gang in Dushane and Sully's absence. When Sully is released, he reconnects with Jason and Gem to begin selling in Ramsgate. Meanwhile, Dris, having suffered a stroke that has left him partially disabled, struggles with his responsibilities upon Dushane's return.

Jamie attempts to assert his dominance in the borough, driven to provide for his younger brothers while Dushane attempts to regain control.

CastEdit

Cast tableEdit

Actor Character Appearances
Series 1 Series 2 Series 3
Ashley Walters Dushane Hill Main
Kane Robinson Gerald "Sully" Sullivan[a] Main
Shone Romulus Dris Walsh[b] Main
Malcolm Kamulete Ra'Nell Smith Main Does not appear
Sharon Duncan-Brewster Lisa Smith Main Does not appear
Giacomo Mancini Gem Mustapha Main Recurring
Kierston Wareing Heather Main Does not appear
Nicholas Pinnock Leon Main Does not appear
Xavien Russell Michael Recurring Main Does not appear
Michael Ward Jamie Tovell Does not appear Main
Jasmine Jobson Jaq Does not appear Main
Simbiatu Ajikawo Shelley Does not appear Main
Hope Ikpoku Jr. Aaron Tovell Does not appear Main
Araloyin Oshunremi Stefan Tovell Does not appear Main
Keiyon Cook Atticus "Ats" Ayittey Does not appear Main
Jolade Obasola Amma Ayittey Does not appear Main
Kadeem Ramsay Kit Does not appear Main
Lisa Dwan Lizzie Does not appear Main
  1. ^ Referred to as Gerard Sully Sullivan in Season 2 as opposed to Gerald in Season 3
  2. ^ Referred to as Dris Wright in Season 2

MainEdit

  • Ashley Walters as Dushane Hill (Seasons 1–present)
  • Kane Robinson as Gerard "Sully" Sullivan (Seasons 1–present)
  • Shone Romulus as Dris Wright (Seasons 1-3)
  • Malcolm Kamulete as Ra'Nell Smith (Seasons 1–2)
  • Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Lisa Smith (Seasons 1–2)
  • Giacomo Mancini as Gem Mustapha (Seasons 1–2; guest season 3)
  • Kierston Wareing as Heather (Season 1)
  • Nicholas Pinnock as Leon (Season 1)
  • Xavien Russell as Michael (Seasons 2; recurring season 1)
  • Micheal Ward as Jamie Tovell (Season 3-present)
  • Jasmine Jobson as Jaq (Season 3-present)
  • Simbi Ajikawo as Shelley (Season 3-present)
  • Hope Ikpoku Jnr. as Aaron Tovell (Season 3-present)
  • Araloyin Oshunremi as Stefan Tovell (Season 3-present)
  • Keiyon Cook as Atticus "Ats" Ayittey (Season 3-present)
  • Jolade Obasola as Amma Ayittey (Season 3-present)
  • Kadeem Ramsay as Kit (Season 3-present)
  • Lisa Dwan as Lizzie (Season 3-present)

RecurringEdit

  • Letitia Wright as Chantelle (Season 1)
  • Geoff Bell as Bobby Raikes (Season 1)
  • David Hayman as Joe (Seasons 1–2)
  • Benedict Wong as Vincent (Seasons 1–2)
  • Cyrus Desir as Lee Greene (Season 1)
  • Tayo Jarrett as Kamale Lewis (Season 1)
  • Chiefer Appiah as Ninja (Seasons 1–2)
  • Richie Campbell as Chris Hill, Dushane's estranged brother (Seasons 1, 3–present)
  • Marsha Millar as Pat (Seasons 1, 3–present)
  • Clare-Hope Ashitey as Taylor (Seasons 1, 3–present)
  • Paul Anderson as Mike (Season 2)
  • Ashley Thomas as Jermaine Newton, Sully's estranged cousin (Season 2–present)
  • Ricky Smarts as Jason, Sully's son figure (Seasons 2–3)
  • Lorraine Burroughs as Rhianna Parkes, Dushane's lawyer (Season 2)
  • Nabil Elouahabi as Mr. Mustapha (Season 2)
  • Michaela Coel as Kayla Thomas (Season 2)
  • Monique Day as Nevaeh (Season 2)
  • Weruche Opia as Nafisa (Season 2)
  • Noah Maxwell Clarke as Shaheed (Season 2)
  • Kasey McKellar as R-Marni (Season 2)
  • Andreas Andreou as Collins (Season 2)
  • David Omoregie as Modie (Season 3)
  • Seraphina Beh as Farah (Season 3–present)
  • Kola Bokinni as Leyton (Season 3)
  • Alessandro Babalola as Haze (Season 3)
  • Saffron Hocking as Lauren (Season 3–present)
  • Joshua Blissett as Kieron (Season 3–present)
  • Isla Jackson Ritchie as Sarah (Season 3–present)
  • Josef Altin as Lee (Season 3–present)
  • Elizabeth Tan as Maude (Season 3–present)
  • Unique Spencer as Abby (Season 3–present)
  • Kiko Armstong as Donovan (Season 3)
  • Dudley O'Shaughnessy as Si (Season 3–present)
  • Reniko Francis as Tyrone (Season 3–present)
  • Nyshai Caynes as Romy (Season 3–present)
  • Dan Connolly as Tim Braithwaite (Season 4–present)
  • Howard Charles as Curtis (Season 4–present)

MusicEdit

On 13 September 2019, the original soundtrack for the series, titled Top Boy (A Selection of Music Inspired by the Series), was released by OVO Sound and Warner.[7][8] The soundtrack includes appearances from OVO's Drake, Baka Not Nice, and Popcaan and British artists AJ Tracey, Avelino, Dave, Fredo, Ghetts, Headie One, Little Simz, M Huncho, Nafe Smallz and SL.[9][10]

EpisodesEdit

SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast airedNetwork
1431 October 2011 (2011-10-31)3 November 2011 (2011-11-03)Channel 4
2420 August 2013 (2013-08-20)10 September 2013 (2013-09-10)
31013 September 2019 (2019-09-13)Netflix

Series 1 (2011)Edit

No. No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.K. viewers
(millions)[11]
11"Episode 1"Yann DemangeRonan Bennett31 October 2011 (2011-10-31)1.68
In the courtyards of the Summerhouse Estate, a thriving but unreal underground drugs business is being run by Dushane and his friend Sully. Ra'Nell is forced to 'step-up' after his mother is committed to a hospital after suffering a mental breakdown.
22"Episode 2"Yann DemangeRonan Bennett1 November 2011 (2011-11-01)1.69
Raikes gives Sully and Dushane two weeks to retrieve the stash stolen by Kamale, a task that proves to be harder than originally thought. Dushane and Sully kidnap Kamale's cousin in order to force Kamale out of hiding, but things don't according to plan, and the boys end up with a body on their hands. Meanwhile, Ra'Nell goes into business with his mother's friend, Heather.
33"Episode 3"Yann DemangeRonan Bennett2 November 2011 (2011-11-02)1.54
After Heather has shown him the flat she hopes to buy with her drug money, Ra'Nell welcomes his mother home. After an altercation where Gem is accused of betraying Dushane and Sully, Marnie is murdered. Sighting Kamale, Dushane and Sully torture him before shooting him and recovering the stolen drugs and money. Raikes' accomplice Lee is revealed to be the snake, and is murdered.
44"Episode 4"Yann DemangeRonan Bennett3 November 2011 (2011-11-03)1.56
Heather confesses her guilt, which leads Lisa to call upon Leon for help. Ra'Nell attempts to do business with Dushane, but Sully's interception causes another casualty. Dushane is shocked that Sully still has the gun that killed two people, with Raikes proposing they sell Sully out as a liability.

Series 2 (2013)Edit

No. No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.K. viewers
(millions)[11]
51"Episode 1"Jonathan van TullekenRonan Bennett20 August 2013 (2013-08-20)1.39
After the police uncover a body, "Top Boy" Dushane must deal with the repercussions, while also attempting to stay ahead of his new rival, his one-time friend, Sully. Ra'Nell's mother tries to rebuild her life, while Gem calls upon Ra'Nell for help.
62"Episode 2"Jonathan van TullekenRonan Bennett27 August 2013 (2013-08-27)1.13
While visiting the injured Joe, Dushane discovers who stole their drugs. Meanwhile, Mike and Sully botch a hit, and a police witness threatens to destroy Dushane and Sully. Gem discovers what it means to be in debt, and Jason makes enemies on the Summerhouse Estate.
73"Episode 3"Jonathan van TullekenRonan Bennett3 September 2013 (2013-09-03)1.07
Mike and Sully struggle to survive as Rafe swears vengeance on them for kidnapping his brother, Jermaine. Sully takes pity on Jason after witnessing first-hand the struggles the youth faces. Ra'Nell attempts to protect Gem from Vincent. The police threaten to destroy their witness if she does not cooperate, putting Dushane and Sully in danger.
84"Episode 4"Jonathan van TullekenRonan Bennett10 September 2013 (2013-09-10)1.00
Lisa enlists the help of Dushane to deal with Vincent, while also attempting to save her business. Dushane and Sully reunite with the intention of retrieving the stolen drugs from the Albanians. A guilty Michael fears for his life, Gem and his father must cope with a change in lifestyle, and Dushane must take drastic measures in a desperate attempt to keep him and Sully out of prison.

Series 3 (2019)Edit

No. No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
91"Bruk Up"Reinaldo Marcus GreenRonan Bennett13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
Streetwise Jamie looks to lead a gang and cut old ties for a new supplier. In Jamaica, hardened criminal Dushane is at the mercy of a powerful kingpin.
102"Building Bridges"Reinaldo Marcus GreenRonan Bennett13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
Dushane returns to London. Jamie juggles family duties with risky responsibilities. Before his prison release, convict Sully is provoked by an inmate.
113"Big Flame"Reinaldo Marcus GreenRonan Bennett13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
Strapped for cash, Dushane makes a proposition to an old friend and attempts burglary. Beefing with a rival gang, Jamie struggles to keep a low profile.
124"Bonfire Night"Nia DaCostaDaniel West13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
The feud between the Fields and the A-Roads escalates. A fiery attack puts Sully and Jason in peril. Dushane's plans take an unexpected turn.
135"Smoke Gets in Your Hands"Nia DaCostaRonan Bennett13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
As the money rolls in for Dushane and Sully's crew, a threat gets wind of their booming business – and neither party is ready to give up their turf.
146"Press Gang"Brady HoodRonan Bennett13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
As the Zero Tolerance gang asserts their power, Dushane's crew attempts to hire young recruits. When Sully becomes a target, the group prepares for war.
157"The Squeeze"Brady HoodDaniel West13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
Ats makes his first delivery. Jamie's punishment for a detractor goes awry. After a warning from Haze, Dushane looks to eliminate the competition.
168"Bad Eye"Aneil KariaRonan Bennett13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
A familiar face breaks free from jail and confronts Jamie about his self-appointed leadership. Lizzie is forced to change her business strategy.
179"Everyone's Got Family"Aneil KariaRonan Bennett13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
Bent on taking out Sugar and Jamie, Dushane and Sully orchestrate hits on their rivals – until a surprise shootout shakes their plans.
1810"You Don't Know Me"Aneil KariaRonan Bennett13 September 2019 (2019-09-13)
When an enemy's takedown puts Jamie back in a position of power, Dushane and Sully use their slick tactics to outsmart him.

Filming locationsEdit

Production visited several locations in Kent for Series 3. Filming took place in Margate at Walpole Bay and Fulsam Rock Beach and nearby streets including Athelstan Road. Production also visited Ramsgate, where they filmed at Jacob's Ladder, outside the Rose of England pub on the High Street and Ramsgate Station. In addition, Gordon Place in Gravesend and the De Beauvoir estate in the London Borough of Hackney doubled as the fictional "Summerhouse Estate" in London. With the series being set in Hackney much of the filming took place in the borough in areas including Dalston, Haggerston and London Fields.[12] Legal scenes in season 4 were filmed in the old Blackfriars Crown Court.[13]

ReceptionEdit

Top Boy received positive feedback from critics. The first series premiered with 1.1 million viewers, and managed to maintain its audience share over the course of its four-night run.[14]

Tom Sutcliffe, writing in The Independent, said: "The drama involved virtually no preaching at all, but a sense of morality was everywhere, as bad conscience flickered in the face of the toughest characters and grief hit the culpable and the blameless alike. Best of all, it always found a little time for something other than plot, whether it was banter on stairwells or the melancholy beauty of the city at night. Seriously good television."[15]

Ed Cumming of The Daily Telegraph wrote of "minor quibbles", before adding that "on the whole this was a well-made, convincing drama, with an excellent ensemble cast. Ashley Walters, once of rap group So Solid Crew and with real-life arrests for firearms crimes, knows the world he is portraying. The two boys, Ra'Nell and Gem, did a good job of balancing adolescent aggression with naïve vulnerability. When Ra'Nell left a message on his mentally ill mother's phone, you knew it was half from a sense of responsibility towards her and half because he just wanted his mum. I wonder if he’ll still need her by the end of Thursday night." He also noted similarities between Top Boy and the American television drama series The Wire.[16]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Chu, Henry (8 November 2017). "Drake Revives British Drug Dealer Drama 'Top Boy' for Netflix". Variety. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Top Boy: Season 1".
  3. ^ "Top Boy – Series 2 – Starts 20th August". 7 August 2013.
  4. ^ "Top Boy: Season 2".
  5. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (11 May 2018). "Top Boy season 3 for Netflix will shoot from July". Digital Spy.
  6. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (8 November 2017). "Drake Revives British Drama 'Top Boy' as Netflix Original Series (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  7. ^ "DRAKE & OVO SOUND PRESENT "TOP BOY" SOUNDTRACK". HipHopDX. 12 September 2019.
  8. ^ "The tracklisting for Drake's 'Top Boy' soundtrack has been revealed". NME. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  9. ^ "Drake's OVO Sound reveals Top Boy soundtrack tracklist". Revolt. 12 September 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  10. ^ "The OVO Sound 'Top Boy' Soundtrack Will Contain A New Drake Song After All". Uproxx. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Weekly top 10 programmes | BARB".
  12. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Top Boy Series 3 Article".
  13. ^ Aishah Hussain (21 January 2021). "Netflix's Top Boy uses sold off crown court to film legal scenes — as criminal case backlog hits 457,518". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  14. ^ Rosser, Michael. "Top Boy ends on 990k". Broadcastnow. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  15. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom (4 November 2011). "Last Night's Viewing: Symphony, BBC4; Top Boy, Channel 4". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  16. ^ Cumming, Ed (31 October 2011). "Top Boy, Channel 4, review". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 31 October 2011.

External linksEdit