Top Boy

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Top Boy
Top Boy title card.PNG
GenreCrime drama
Written byRonan Bennett
Directed byYann Demange
Jonathan van Tulleken
Opening theme"Finished I Ain't" — Ghostpoet (Series 1)
Ending theme"Cold Win" — Ghostpoet (Series 2)
Composer(s)Brian Eno
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series2
No. of episodes8 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)Yann Demange
Aubrey Graham (2019)[1]
Adel Nur (2019)[1]
Maverick Carter (2019)[1]
Jamal Henderson (2019)[1]
Producer(s)Ronan Bennett
Charles Steel
Alasdair Flind
Laura Hastings-Smith
Production location(s)London
CinematographyTat Radcliffe
Christopher Ross
Editor(s)Chris Wyatt
Matthew Tabern
Running time48 minutes (approx.)
Production company(s)Cowboy Films
Easter Partisan
SpringHill Entertainment (2019)[1]
Original networkChannel 4
Picture format16:9 (HDTV)
Audio formatStereo
Original release31 October 2011 (2011-10-31) – 10 September 2013 (2013-09-10)
External links

Top Boy is a British television crime drama series, written and created by Ronan Bennett and directed by Yann Demange and Jonathan van Tulleken, first broadcast on 31 October 2011 on Channel 4. 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. Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson serve as lead actors for the project.

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 had revived the series, ordering a third series of ten episodes with both Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson reprising their roles.[1] In addition, creator Ronan Bennett will return to script all ten episodes, the original creative team will return, and Drake, Adel Nur, Maverick Carter, and Jamal Henderson will all join the series as executive producers.[6] The third series will premiere on Netflix globally in 2019.[1]


Series 1 (2011)[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 admitted 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 2 (2013)[edit]

After the police uncover a body, Dushane must deal with the repercussions while also attempting to stay ahead of Sully, his one-time friend turned rival. 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.




  • Chiefer Appiah as Ninja
  • Benedict Wong as Vincent
  • Jordan Bernard as Hoodlum
  • David Hayman as Joe
  • Letitia Wright as Chantelle (Series 1)
  • Kierston Wareing as Heather (Series 1)
  • George Wood as Andre (Series 1)
  • Nicholas Pinnock as Leon (Series 1)
  • Geoff Bell as Bobby Raikes (Series 1)
  • Olivia Musangi as Precious (Series 1)
  • Juliet Oldfield as Camilla (Series 1)
  • Cyrus Desir as Lee Greene (Series 1)
  • Pooky Quesnel as Dr. Jenny Northam (Series 1)
  • Tayo Jarrett as Kamale (Series 1)
  • Ricky Smarts as Jason (Series 2)
  • Reanne Opia as Nafisa (Series 2)
  • Kasey Mckellar as R-Marni (Series 2)
  • Darren Morfitt as DC Mark Leko (Series 2)
  • Lorraine Burroughs as Rhianna Parkes (Series 2)
  • Noah Maxwell Clarke as Shaheed (Series 2)
  • Clare Burt as DC Vicky Trovell (Series 2)
  • Monique Day as Neveah (Series 2)
  • Amanya Romulus as Erin (Series 2)
  • Jo Martin as Zoe (Series 2)
  • Nabil Elouahabi as Mr. Mustapha (Series 2)
  • Andrew Lawden as Dardan (Series 2)
  • Paul Anderson as Mike (Series 2)
  • Ashley Thomas as Jermaine (Series 2)


Series 1 (2011)[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.K. viewers
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
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.


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.[9]

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."[10]

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.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Chu, Henry (2017-11-08). "Drake Revives British Drug Dealer Drama 'Top Boy' for Netflix". Variety. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Top Boy - Series 2 - Starts 20th August". 7 August 2013.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (2017-11-08). "Drake Revives British Drama 'Top Boy' as Netflix Original Series (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-11-08.
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Rosser, Michael. "Top Boy ends on 990k". Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  10. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom (4 November 2011). "Last Night's Viewing: Symphony, BBC4; Top Boy, Channel 4". London: Retrieved 2011-11-04.
  11. ^ Cumming, Ed (31 October 2011). "Top Boy, Channel 4, review". London: Retrieved 2011-10-31.

External links[edit]