|Created by||Ronan Bennett|
|Opening theme||"Finished I Ain't" — Ghostpoet (Series 1)|
|Ending theme||"Cold Win" — Ghostpoet (Series 2)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||3|
|No. of episodes||18 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Yann Demange|
Aubrey Graham (2019)
Adel Nur (2019)
Maverick Carter (2019)
Jamal Henderson (2019)
Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo (2019)
|Running time||48 minutes (approx.)|
|Production company(s)||Cowboy Films|
SpringHill Entertainment (2019)
|Original network||Channel 4 (2011–2013)|
|Picture format||16:9 (HDTV) (2011–2013)|
4K Ultra HD (2019–present)
|Original release||31 October 2011 –|
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. It previously aired on Channel 4 for the first two seasons from 2011 to 2013. 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. A second series began airing on 20 August 2013. A DVD release of the second series followed on 16 September 2013. Although storylines for a third series were proposed, the series was dropped by Channel 4 in 2014. 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. 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. The third season premiered on Netflix on 13 September 2019.
Season 1 (2011)
The series follows the plight of Ra'Nell as he navigates the pitfalls of living in a crime-filled 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 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)
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)
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, 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 Summerhouse 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 Summerhouse, driven to provide for his younger brothers while Dushane attempts to regain control.
- Ashley Walters as Dushane
- Kane Robinson as Sully
- Shone Romulus as Dris
- Malcolm Kamulete as Ra'Nell (Seasons 1-2)
- Sharon Duncan Brewster as Lisa (Seasons 1-2)
- Giacomo Mancini as Gem (Seasons 1-2, Guest season 3)
- Kierston Wareing as Heather (Season 1)
- Nicolas Pinnock as Leon (Season 1)
- Xavien Russell as Michael (Seasons 1-2)
- Ricky Smarts as Jason (Seasons 2-3)
- Michael Ward as Jamie (Season 3)
- Letitia Wright as Chantelle (Season 1)
- Geoff Bell as Bobby Raikes (Season 1)
- David Hayman as Joe (Season 1-2)
- Benedict Wong as Vincent (Seasons 1-2)
- Cyrus Desir as Lee Greene (Season 1)
- Tayo Jarrett as Kamale (Season 1)
- Paul Anderson as Mike (Season 2)
- Ashley Thomas as Jermaine (Seasons 2-3)
- Nabil Elouahbi as Mr. Mustapha (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)
- Kadeem Ramsay as Kit (Season 3)
- Hope Ikpoku Jnr. as Aaron (Season 3)
- David Omoregie as Modie (Season 3)
- Lisa Dwan as Lizzie (Season 3)
- Keiyon Cook as Ats (Season 3)
- Saffron Hocking as Lauryn (Season 3)
|First aired||Last aired||Network|
|1||4||31 October 2011||3 November 2011||Channel 4|
|2||4||20 August 2013||10 September 2013|
|3||10||13 September 2019||Netflix|
Series 1 (2011)
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.K. viewers|
|1||"Episode 1"||Yann Demange||Ronan Bennett||31 October 2011||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 Demange||Ronan Bennett||1 November 2011||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 Demange||Ronan Bennett||2 November 2011||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 Demange||Ronan Bennett||3 November 2011||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)
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.K. viewers|
|1||"Episode 1"||Jonathan van Tulleken||Ronan Bennett||20 August 2013||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 Tulleken||Ronan Bennett||27 August 2013||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 Tulleken||Ronan Bennett||3 September 2013||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 Tulleken||Ronan Bennett||10 September 2013||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)
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||"Bruk Up"||Reinaldo Marcus Green||Ronan Bennett||13 September 2019|
|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 Green||Ronan Bennett||13 September 2019|
|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 Green||Ronan Bennett||13 September 2019|
|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 DeCosta||Daniel West||13 September 2019|
|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 DeCosta||Ronan Bennett||13 September 2019|
|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 Hood||Ronan Bennett||13 September 2019|
|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 Hood||Daniel West||13 September 2019|
|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 Karia||Ronan Bennett||13 September 2019|
|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 Karia||Ronan Bennett||13 September 2019|
|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 Karia||Ronan Bennett||13 September 2019|
|When an enemy's takedown puts Jamie back in a position of power, Dushane and Sully use their slick tactics to outsmart him.|
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.
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.
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- Goldberg, Lesley (8 November 2017). "Drake Revives British Drama 'Top Boy' as Netflix Original Series (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
- "Weekly top 10 programmes | BARB".
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- Sutcliffe, Tom (4 November 2011). "Last Night's Viewing: Symphony, BBC4; Top Boy, Channel 4". London: Independent.co.uk. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
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