Top Boy

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Top Boy
Top Boy title card.PNG
GenreCrime drama
Created byRonan Bennett
Starring
Opening theme"Finished I Ain't" — Ghostpoet (Series 1)
Ending theme"Cold Win" — Ghostpoet (Series 2)
Composer(s)Brian Eno
Michael Asante
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series3
No. of episodes18 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)Yann Demange
Aubrey Graham (2019)[citation needed]
Adel Nur (2019)[1]
Maverick Carter (2019)[1]
Jamal Henderson (2019)[1]
Producer(s)Ronan Bennett
Charles Steel
Alasdair Flind
Laura Hastings-Smith
Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo (2019)
CinematographyTat Radcliffe
Christopher Ross
Editor(s)Chris Wyatt
Matthew Tabern
Running time48 minutes (approx.)
Production company(s)Cowboy 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
External links
Website

Top Boy is a British television crime drama series, written and created by Ronan Bennett and directed by Yann Demange and Jonathan van Tulleken. Since 2019, the series streams exclusively on Netflix.

The series is set on the fictional Summerhouse estate in Hackney, East London.

The first series was broadcast 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 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] In January 2014, Audience Network began broadcasting the first season on DirecTV in the United States.

In November 2017, it was announced that following interest from Canadian rapper Drake, Netflix would revive the series, ordering a new season of ten episodes, with both Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson reprising their roles.[1] Series creator Ronan Bennett returned to script most episodes, along with the original creative team, with Drake, Adel Nur, Maverick Carter, and Jamal Henderson all joining the series as executive producers.[6] The revival season premiered on Netflix on 13 September 2019 as Season 1, whilst the original series was renamed to Top Boy: Summerhouse.[1]

Plot[edit]

Season 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.

Season 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.

Season 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.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

  • 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 (Season 1)
  • Chiefer Appiah as Ninja (Seasons 1-2)
  • Richie Campbell as Chris (Seasons 1-3)
  • Paul Anderson as Mike (Season 2)
  • Ashley Thomas as Jermaine (Seasons 2-3)
  • Ricky Smarts as Jason (Seasons 2-3)
  • Lorraine Burroughs as Rhianna Parkes (Season 2)
  • Nabil Elouahabi as Mr. Mustapha (Season 2)
  • Michaela Coel as Kayla (Season 2)
  • Monique Day as Neveah (Season 2)
  • Noah Maxwell Clarke as Shaheed (Season 2)
  • Kasey McKellar as R-Marni (Season 2)
  • Andreas Andreou as Collins (Season 2)
  • Simbi Ajikawo as Shelley (Season 3)
  • David Omoregie as Modie (Season 3)
  • Jasmine Jobson as Jaq (Season 3)
  • Lisa Dwan as Lizzie (Season 3)
  • Keiyon Cook as Ats (Season 3)
  • Hope Ikpoku Jnr. as Aaron (Season 3)
  • Araloyin Oshunremi as Stefan (Season 3)
  • Kadeem Ramsay as Kit (Season 3)
  • Seraphina Beh as Farah (Season 3)
  • Jolade Obasola as Amma (Season 3)
  • kola bokinni as Leyton (Season 3)
  • Alessandro Babalola as Haze (Season 3)
  • Joshua Blissett as Kieron (Season 3)
  • Isla Jackson Ritchie as Sarah (Season 3)
  • Josef Altin as Lee (Season 3)
  • Elizabeth Tan as Maude (Season 3)
  • Saffron Hocking as Lauryn (Season 3)
  • Unique Spencer as Abby (Season 3)

Series overview[edit]

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. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.K. viewers
(millions)[7]
1"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.
2"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. Meanwhile, Ra'Nell goes into business with his mother's friend, Heather.
3"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. 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. Sully visits his daughter.
4"Episode 4"Yann DemangeRonan Bennett3 November 2011 (2011-11-03)1.56
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 three people, with Raikes proposing they sell Sully out as a liability. Heather confesses her guilt, which leads Lisa to call upon Leon for help.

Series 2 (2013)[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.K. viewers
(millions)[7]
1"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.
2"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.
3"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 co-operate, putting Dushane and Sully in danger.
4"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. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1"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.
2"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.
3"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.
4"Bonfire Night"Nia DeCostaDaniel 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.
5"Smoke Gets in Your Hands"Nia DeCostaRonan 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.
6"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.
7"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.
8"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.
9"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.
10"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.

Reception[edit]

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.[8]

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."[9]

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.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Chu, Henry (8 November 2017). "Drake Revives British Drug Dealer Drama 'Top Boy' for Netflix". Variety. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  2. ^ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Top-Boy-DVD-Ashley-Walters/dp/B005EWJM2G/
  3. ^ "Top Boy - Series 2 - Starts 20th August". 7 August 2013.
  4. ^ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Top-Boy-DVD-Ashley-Walters/dp/B00CP1ZSXG/
  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. ^ a b "Weekly top 10 programmes | BARB".
  8. ^ Rosser, Michael. "Top Boy ends on 990k". Broadcastnow.co.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  9. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom (4 November 2011). "Last Night's Viewing: Symphony, BBC4; Top Boy, Channel 4". London: Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  10. ^ Cumming, Ed (31 October 2011). "Top Boy, Channel 4, review". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 31 October 2011.

External links[edit]