Top Boy

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Top Boy
Top Boy title card.PNG
Current title card of Top Boy
Genre Crime Drama
Written by Ronan Bennett
Directed by Yann Demange (2011)
Jonathan van Tulleken (2013)
Starring Ashley Walters
Kane Robinson
Sharon Duncan Brewster
Geoff Bell
Composer(s) Brian Eno
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 8 (list of episodes)
Producer(s) Charles Steel
Alasdair Flind
Ronan Bennett
Location(s) London
Cinematography Tat Radcliffe (2011)
Christopher Ross (2013)
Editor(s) Chris Wyatt (2011)
Matthew Tabern (2013)
Running time 48 minutes (approx.)
Production company(s) Cowboy Films
Distributor Channel 4
Original network Channel 4
Picture format 16:9 (HDTV)
Original release October 31, 2011 (2011-10-31)
External links

Top Boy is a British television crime 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, East London, 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.[1] The series aims to provide an insight into life in London estates, and how drugs affect everyone living there.

A third series is now being rumoured to be taking place. In April 2016 it was announced that series 3 is coming soon. Channel 4 have still not confirmed any new series.[2]

Premise and plot[edit]

Series One[edit]

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 local drug dealers Dushane and Sully, and the tough decisions they must make to stay alive and in business.

Series Two[edit]

After the police uncover a body, Dushane must deal with the repercussions while also attempting to stay ahead of his one-time friend turned rival, Sully. Meanwhile, Ra'Nell's mother attempts to rebuild her life, and Gem tries to enlist Ra'Nell's help in combating a new threat. Series Two also introduces Jason, an abused youth who attempts to survive in a world corrupted by violence and drugs.



  • Xavien Russell as Michael



Series One (2011)[edit]

# Title Directed by Original air date
1 "Episode 1" Yann Demange 31 October 2011 (2011-10-31)
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 Demange 1 November 2011 (2011-11-01)
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 Demange 2 November 2011 (2011-11-02)
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 Demange 3 November 2011 (2011-11-03)
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 Two (2013)[edit]

# Title Directed by Original air date
1 "Episode 1" Jonathan van Tulleken 20 August 2013 (2013-08-20)
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 Tulleken 27 August 2013 (2013-08-27)
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 Tulleken 3 September 2013 (2013-09-03)
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 Tulleken 10 September 2013 (2013-09-10)
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.


Upon completion of the series, Top Boy received some 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.[3] 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."[4] 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.[5] In January 2014, Audience Network began broadcasting the first season on DirecTV in the United States.

Additional information[edit]

  • The advert used the instrumental of Ghostpoet's song "Finished I Ain't"
  • The end credits for Series Two used the instrumental of Ghostpoet's song "Cold Win".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Top Boy - Series 2 - Starts 20th August". 7 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Adejobi, Alicia (20 April 2016). "Top Boy series 3: Drake and Skepta working with Ashley Walters on new episodes". 
  3. ^ Rosser, Michael. "Top Boy ends on 990k". Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  4. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom (4 November 2011). "Last Night's Viewing: Symphony, BBC4; Top Boy, Channel 4". London: Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  5. ^ Cumming, Ed (31 October 2011). "Top Boy, Channel 4, review". London: Retrieved 2011-10-31. 

External links[edit]