Current title card of Top Boy
|Written by||Ronan Bennett|
|Directed by||Yann Demange (2011)
Jonathan van Tulleken (2013)
Sharon Duncan Brewster
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||2|
|No. of episodes||8 (List of episodes)|
|Editor(s)||Chris Wyatt (2011)
Matthew Tabern (2013)
|Cinematography||Tat Radcliffe (2011)
Christopher Ross (2013)
|Running time||48 minutes (approx.)|
|Production company(s)||Cowboy Films|
|Original channel||Channel 4|
|Picture format||16:9 (HDTV)|
|Original run||31 October 2011– present|
Top Boy is a British television drama series that was first broadcast on Channel 4. Season 1 was broadcast over consecutive nights, from 31 October to 3 November 2011. Set on the fictional Summerhouse housing estate in Hackney, the series follows the lives of a group of people involved in drug dealing and street gangs. A second series began airing on 20 August 2013 on Channel 4. The series aims to provide an insight into life in east London estates, and how drugs affect everyone living there.
Premise and plot
The series follows the plight of Ra'nell as he navigates the pitfalls of living in a crime filled area after his mother, Lisa, is committed to a mental hospital. The story also follows the rise of a local drug dealer, Dushane, and the tough decisions he must make to stay alive and in business.
Sully and Dushane begin working the streets of Summerhouse but they become rivals.
Series One (2011)
|#||Title||Directed by||Original air date|
|1||"Episode 1"||Yann Demange||31 October 2011|
|In the courtyards of the Summerhouse Estate in London a thriving but underground drugs business is being run by Dushane (Ashley Walters) and his friend Sully (Kane Robinson) after partnering with top don Bobby Raikes (Geoff Bell). Rivalry with Kamale (Scorcher) results in the loan from Raikes being stolen. Meanwhile, thirteen-year-old Ra'Nell is advised he has to 'step up and be a man' when his mother Lisa has a breakdown and is hospitalised. Ra'Nell's friend Gem joins Dushane to sell drugs. At the same time Lisa's friend Heather (Kierston Wareing), enlists his help in growing marijuana to sell. Kamale discovers Dushane's hideout and steals the drugs and money once again, with Raikes giving Dushane and Sully two weeks to retrieve the goods that was stolen from them.|
|2||"Episode 2"||Yann Demange||1 November 2011|
|Raikes gives Sully and Dushane two weeks to retrieve the stash stolen by rival Kamale and they find a mysterious present of guns to help them. To remind them of their responsibilities Raikes' henchman Greene attacks Dushane's brother Chris and gets badly beaten up in revenge. The boys decide to kidnap Kamale's cousin Shaun and hold him to ransom but they hit him just that little bit too hard and end up with a corpse on their hands. Meanwhile Ra'Nell misses seeing his mother on her day out from hospital as he is helping Heather tend her illegal cannabis crops and Gem gives it to his yat in as disused warehouse.|
|3||"Episode 3"||Yann Demange||2 November 2011|
|After Heather has shown him the flat she hopes to buy with her drugs money Ra'Nell welcomes his mother home. Sully visits his daughter but Chris bars Dushane from his house as a liability. Sully suggests to Dushane that an informant in their group is in league with The London Fields. He names Gem and sends a thug, Dris, to kill the boy's dog and send him into hiding before Ra'Nell gets the courageous Leon to call the gang off. Though Kamale does not turn up to Shaun's funeral a chance sighting leads Dushane and his gang to their rival where, after claiming another victim, they locate the missing drugs at a tyre depot, where Lee Greene just happens to be so they shoot him too but now a full-scale gang war erupts as Kamale's associates seek revenge.|
|4||"Episode 4"||Yann Demange||3 November 2011|
|Dushane is shocked that Sully still has the gun which killed three people but he refuses to go along with Raikes' plan to sell him out as a liability. Overhearing Vincent, Heather's Vietnamese buyer, refusing to give her the price she wants for her weed, Ra'Nell persuades Dushane to pay the required rate and shows him a sample of its quality. Heather goes to hospital and gives birth, admitting to Lisa how she involved Ra'Nell in her scheme. Lisa rings Leon, who tries to prevent Sully from stealing the marijuana from Ra'Nell but in the fight that follows Sully shoots and kills Leon. Dushane visits Raikes on the pretext of giving Sully up but shoots him and makes it look like suicide. He gives Ra'Nell the money for the weed, which he passes on to Heather and, as Ra'Nell, Gem and Gem's girlfriend Chantelle go into business with Vincent. Dushane, having got Raikes out of the way, is now the kingpin of the estate's drug-peddling industry, the Top Boy.|
Series Two (2013)
|#||Title||Directed by||Original air date|
|1||"Episode 1"||Jonathan van Tulleken||20 August 2013|
|A year has passed since the first season and Dushane has become the Top Boy but Sully is now his rival.|
|2||"Episode 2"||Jonathan van Tulleken||27 August 2013|
|3||"Episode 3"||Jonathan van Tulleken||3 September 2013|
|4||"Episode 4"||Jonathan van Tulleken||10 September 2013|
- Sharon Duncan Brewster as Lisa
- Nicholas Pinnock as Leon
- Giacomo Mancini as Gem
- Shone Romulus as Dris
- Sean Sagar as Tareek
- Letitia Wright as Chantelle
- George Wood
- Elarica Gallacher as Sophie
- Juliet Oldfield as Camilla
- Xavien Russell as Micheal
- Tayo 'Scorcher' Jarrett as Kamale
Upon completion of the series, Top Boy received overwhelmingly positive feedback from critics. The drama premiered with a solid 1.1 million viewers and managed to maintain its audience share over the course of its four night run. 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." 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. In January 2014, Audience Network began broadcasting the first season on DirecTV in the United States.
- Rosser, Michael. "Top Boy ends on 990k". Broadcastnow.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- Sutcliffe, Tom. "Last Night's Viewing: Symphony, BBC4; Top Boy, Channel 4". Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-11-04.
- "Top Boy, Channel 4, review". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2011-10-31.