Top Boy

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Top Boy
GenreCrime drama
Created byRonan Bennett
Starring
Opening theme"Finished I Ain't" by Ghostpoet (Series 1)
Ending theme"Cold Win" by Ghostpoet (Series 2)
ComposersBrian Eno
Michael Asante
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series5
No. of episodes32 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersAubrey Graham[1]
Adel Nur[1]
Maverick Carter[1]
Jamal Henderson[1]
Ronan Bennett
Charles Steel
Alasdair Flind
Yann Demange
Ashley Walters
Kane Robinson
ProducersLaura Hastings-Smith
Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo[1]
Alasdair Flind
CinematographyTat Radcliffe
Christopher Ross
EditorsChris Wyatt
Matthew Tabern
Running time48 minutes (approx.)
Production companiesCowboy Films
Easter Partisan
DreamCrew (2019)
SpringHill Entertainment (2019)[1]
Original release
NetworkChannel 4
Release31 October 2011 (2011-10-31) –
10 September 2013 (2013-09-10)
NetworkNetflix
Release13 September 2019 (2019-09-13) –
7 September 2023 (2023-09-07)

Top Boy is a British crime drama television series created and written by Ronan Bennett. The series is set on the fictional Summerhouse estate in the London Borough of Hackney. It focuses on two drug dealers, Dushane (Ashley Walters) and Sully (Kane Robinson), along with others involved with drug dealing and gang violence in London.

There are 32 episodes across five series. The first two series, with 4 episodes each, were broadcast on Channel 4, with the first series airing over four consecutive nights from 31 October to 3 November 2011 and the second series airing from 20 August to 10 September 2013.[2] Although storylines for a third series were proposed, the series was dropped by Channel 4 in 2014.[3]

Following interest from Canadian rapper Drake, it was announced in 2017 that Netflix would revive the series, with both Ashley Walters and Kane Robinson, as well as the original crew, reprising their roles, and Drake and his team serving as executive producers.[1] The third and fourth series premiered on Netflix in September 2019 and March 2022, respectively, and were presented as the first and second series of an original Netflix series. The previous two series originally broadcast in the UK were added to Netflix under the name Top Boy: Summerhouse.[1] A fifth and final series (third series produced by Netflix) was renewed on 31 March 2022 and aired on 7 September 2023.[4][5]

The series has received critical acclaim for its writing, acting, cinematography, themes, realism, and soundtrack, with favourable comparisons to other crime shows such as The Wire, Snowfall, and Power. It has received several awards and nominations from the British Academy Television Awards, including nominations for the British Academy Television Award for Best Mini-Series and Best Actor for Kane Robinson. In addition, it has won Drama Series, Best Original Music, Best Director: Fiction, Best Scripted Casting and Best Supporting Actress for Jasmine Jobson.

Plot[edit]

Series 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 pregnant friend Heather enlists Ra'Nell's help to grow a cannabis crop so she can earn enough money to move out of the estate to a safer place.

Meanwhile, his best friend, Gem, realizes he is in over his head when he begins to work for Summerhouse drug dealers Dushane and Sully. Gem is easily coerced and is at the mercy of their trusted enforcer, Dris, who is ruthless and violent.

Dushane and Sully run the estate together with relative ease, but are at risk after Kamale, a rival drug dealer from London Fields, steals a large amount of their supply. They need to find the thief and recover their stash before their supplier, Bobby Raikes, takes action. The urgency of the chase puts Dushane and Sully's partnership in jeopardy.

Series 2 (2013)[edit]

The second series was set one year after the events of the first series. 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. The snitch is revealed to be Michael, Dushane's favourite dealer. The police forced him to give information about Dushane.

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. He comes into contact with Jason, a neglected boy who is trying to survive in a world filled with drugs and murder.

Series 3 (2019)[edit]

The first series of the revival show takes place five years after the original series. Dushane has fled to Jamaica, where he is getting by working in his uncle's car-rental shop with his cousin. After killing a soldier in the organisation of an imprisoned drug lord Sugar in a robbery (unsanctioned by Sugar) gone wrong, he makes a business deal with Sugar that would ensure no retaliation on his life in return for running an empire in London on Sugar’s behalf. He returns to London and enlists the help of Dris and Jaq, who were running Summerhouse by this point while Dushane was away. However a new crew from London Fields, headed by the ruthless Jamie, won't stand for Dushane stepping on their turf.

While Dushane was in Jamaica, London has become more gentrified and the cost of living has risen. After his return, he learns that his sick mother is being cared for by Shelley, a young carer and single mother. Her eight-year-old daughter begins to form a strong relationship with Dushane.

Sully is in prison with Modie, a murderous drug dealer who ran the rival London Fields gang in Dushane and Sully's absence. An altercation between the two men when queuing up in the prison cafeteria escalates to the point that Sully throws boiling sugar water on Modie's face days before he is due to be released. Modie sees him as an enemy and later in the series, he seeks revenge against Sully.

By then Modie has escaped with the help of Sully's cousin Jermaine, whom Sully had kidnapped in the previous series. When Sully is released, he reconnects with Jason and Gem to begin selling in Ramsgate. Jason is killed in a house fire and Sully reluctantly reunites with Dushane to do business again. Meanwhile, Dris, having suffered a stroke that has left him partially disabled, struggles with his responsibilities after Dushane's return.

Jamie attempts to assert his dominance in the borough; he is driven to provide for his younger brothers, Aaron and Stefan. Their parents both developed cancer and died within days of each other, when Jamie was 18-years-old and the brothers even younger.

He starts business with an upper-class Irish drug supplier, Lizzie, and her husband, Jeffery. Jamie's thirst for power and subsequent battles with Dushane's crew at Summerhouse comprise the main plot throughout this series. Dushane eventually orchestrates Jamie being prosecuted and convicted, and sent to prison. He led police to find a bag filled with weapons and drugs in the flat where Jamie lived with his brothers.

Series 4 (2022)[edit]

The second series of the revival show takes place six months after the events of the last. Dushane wants to expand his empire beyond the streets by making huge investments in London and finding new connections in Spain and Morocco. This causes tensions between the community and his sick mother, who is now aware and ashamed of her son's business.

Jamie, after agreeing to work for Dushane in exchange for Dushane forwarding CCTV footage that would exonerate him, has been released from prison: with his gang now beginning to work with the Summerhouse gang. He attempts to reconnect with his younger brother, Stefan, following his friend Ats's death due to knife crime. But Dushane sends him to sort out a botched drug deal in Spain and Morocco.

Jaq, Dushane's new second-in-command following the death of Dris, tries to rescue her pregnant older sister Lauryn. She is in an abusive relationship with Curtis, a weapons dealer based in Liverpool.

Sully suffers from PTSD in the aftermath of murdering Dris and struggling with the death of his younger friend Jason, who was almost a son to him. He is suspicious about Jamie and Dushane doing business together. Meanwhile, Shelley and other local residents try to fight against Dushane's planned redevelopment of Summerhouse. Shelley comes to terms with her dark past; she was being blackmailed for aiding in the burial of her ex-boyfriend's murder victim.

Series 5 (2023)[edit]

The third series of the revival show takes place immediately after the previous series. After killing Jamie, Sully threatens to kill Dushane next if he doesn't step down as the leader of the Summerhouse gang. Dushane reluctantly does so, and Sully becomes the leader, alongside his friend Junior. Dushane takes the time to focus on helping Shelley expand her business. As the new leader, Sully is forced to form an uneasy alliance with Irish gang leader Jonny McGee and his uncle Tadgh, who killed the Moroccan drug suppliers.

Tormented by Jamie's death, Stefan has been moved to a care home and has been taken under the wing of Jamie's friend and fellow ZT member Si, who encourages Stefan to avenge his brother's death. Stefan refuses, in favour of beginning a relationship with Dris' daughter, Erin, who is now living with her mother and Dris' widow Mandy.

Dushane learns that Lizzie and her accountant friend, Lithe, has stolen £15 million from his account, putting him in a state of desperation and anger, to the point where he kills Lizzie's husband, Jeffrey, and snaps at Shelley, who subsequently breaks up with him due to his obsession with money and power. Dushane's failure to clean up after Jeffrey's murder puts him on the police's radar.

Meanwhile, upon giving birth to a baby boy, Lauryn suffers from post-natal depression, and drowns in the bath from a drug overdose. Heartbroken, Jaq becomes disillusioned with selling drugs. She decides to steal Sully's drugs to provide a better life for her girlfriends, Becks, and her newborn nephew.

The series finale concludes with Sully shooting Dushane to death for stealing his previously stolen drugs. The next day, Sully walks down the park where he encounters Stefan, who holds Sully at gunpoint. Sully is fine with dying, but Stefan changes his mind and decides it is not worthwhile. Sully then goes to the carpark and starts the engine. After fastening his seatbelt, he is killed by an unknown assailant.

Cast[edit]

Cast table[edit]

• An empty, grey cell indicates that the character was not in the series, or their presence in the series has not yet been confirmed.

Actor Character Appearances
Series 1 Series 2 Series 3 Series 4 Series 5
Ashley Walters Dushane Hill Main
Kane Robinson Gerard "Sully" Sullivan Main
Malcolm Kamulete Ra'Nell Smith Main Does not appear
Giacomo Mancini Gemel "Gem" Mustapha Main Recurring Does not appear
Shone Romulus Dris Wright Main Does not appear
Sharon Duncan-Brewster Lisa Smith Main Does not appear
Kierston Wareing Heather Main Does not appear
Nicholas Pinnock Leon Main Does not appear
Xavien Russell Michael Recurring Main Does not appear
Micheal Ward Jamie Tovell Does not appear Main Does not appear
Jasmine Jobson Jacqueline "Jaq" Lawrence Does not appear Main
Simbi Ajikawo Shelley Does not appear Main
Hope Ikpoku Jr. Aaron Tovell Does not appear Main Does not appear
Araloyin Oshunremi Stefan Tovell Does not appear Main
Keiyon Cook Attica "Ats" Ayittey Does not appear Main Does not appear
Jolade Obasola Amma Ayittey Does not appear Main Does not appear
Kadeem Ramsay Kit Does not appear Main Does not appear
Lisa Dwan Lizzie Kilfauns Does not appear Main Does not appear
Saffron Hocking Lauryn Lawrence Does not appear Recurring Main
NoLay Mandy Does not appear Guest Does not appear Recurring Main
Adwoa Aboah Becks Does not appear Recurring Main
Joshua Blissett Kieron Palmer Does not appear Recurring Main
Savanah Graham Erin Wright Does not appear Recurring Does not appear Main

Main[edit]

  • Ashley Walters as Dushane Hill (series 1-5)
  • Kane Robinson as Gerard "Sully" Sullivan (series 1-5)
  • Shone Romulus as Dris Wright (series 1–3)
  • Malcolm Kamulete as Ra'Nell Smith (series 1–2)
  • Giacomo Mancini as Gemel "Gem" Mustapha (series 1–2; recurring series 3)
  • Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Lisa Smith (series 1–2)
  • Kierston Wareing as Heather (series 1)
  • Nicholas Pinnock as Leon (series 1)
  • Xavien Russell as Michael (series 1–2)
  • Micheal Ward as Jamie Tovell (series 3–4)
  • Jasmine Jobson as Jacqueline "Jaq" Lawrence (series 3–5)
  • Simbi Ajikawo as Shelley (series 3-5)
  • Hope Ikpoku Jnr. as Aaron Tovell, Jamie's middle brother (series 3–4)
  • Araloyin Oshunremi as Stefan Tovell, Jamie's youngest brother (series 3–5)
  • Keiyon Cook as Attica "Ats" Ayittey (series 3)
  • Jolade Obasola as Amma Ayittey (series 3–4)
  • Kadeem Ramsay as Kit, Jamie's best friend (series 3–4)
  • Lisa Dwan as Lizzie Kilfauns (series 3-4)
  • Saffron Hocking as Lauryn Lawrence, Jaq's sister (series 4–5; recurring series 3)
  • NoLay as Mandy, Dris' girlfriend (series 5; recurring series 4; guest series 2)
  • Adwoa Aboah as Becks, Jaq's girlfriend (series 5; recurring series 4)
  • Joshua Blissett as Kieron Palmer (series 5; recurring 3-4)
  • Savanah Graham as Erin Wright, Dris & Mandy's daughter and Stefan's girlfriend (series 5; recurring series 3)

Recurring[edit]

  • Letitia Wright as Chantelle (series 1)
  • Sean Sagar as Tareek (series 1)
  • Geoff Bell as Bobby Raikes (series 1)
  • David Hayman as Joe (series 1–2)
  • Benedict Wong as Vincent (series 1–2)
  • Cyrus Desir as Lee Greene (series 1)
  • Tayo Jarrett as Kamale Lewis (series 1)
  • Chiefer Appiah as Ninja (series 1–2)
  • Richie Campbell as Chris Hill, Dushane's estranged brother (series 1, 3–4)
  • Marsha Millar as Pat Hill, Dushane's mother (series 1, 3–4)
  • Clare-Hope Ashitey as Taylor (series 1, 3)
  • Paul Anderson as Mike (series 2)
  • Dan Jay Green as Rafe Newton (series 2)
  • Ashley Thomas as Jermaine Newton, Sully's estranged cousin (series 2–3)
  • Ricky Smarts as Jason, Sully's son figure (series 2–3)
  • Danielle Flett as Carolyn, Jason's mother (series 2)
  • Lorraine Burroughs as Rhianna Parkes, Dushane's lawyer (series 2)
  • Nabil Elouahabi as Babrak Mustapha, Gem's father (series 2)
  • Michaela Coel as Kayla Thomas (series 2)
  • Monique Day as Nevaeh (series 2)
  • Weruche Opia as Nafisa (series 2)
  • Noah Maxwell Clarke as Shaheed (series 2)
  • Kasey McKellar as R-Marni (series 2)
  • Andreas Andreou as Collins (series 2)
  • David Omoregie as Morris "Modie" Gregory (series 3)
  • Seraphina Beh as Farah (series 3–4)
  • Kola Bokinni as Leyton (series 3)
  • Alessandro Babalola as Haze (series 3)
  • Isla Jackson Ritchie as Sarah Morrison (series 3–4)
  • Josef Altin as Lee (series 3–4)
  • Theo Ogundipe as Ruben Miller (series 3-4)
  • Elizabeth Tan as Maude (series 3)
  • Unique Spencer as Abby, Aaron's girlfriend (series 3)
  • Kiko Armstong as Donovan, Dushane's cousin (series 3)
  • Shaun Dingwall as Jeffrey Daughton, Lizzie's husband (series 3-5)
  • Michelle Newell as Lithe (series 3-5)
  • Dudley O'Shaughnessy as Si, leader of ZT gang after Jamie's death (series 3–5)
  • Reniko Francis as Tyrone (series 3–5)
  • Nyshai Caynes as Romeo "Romy" Thompson (series 3–5)
  • Erin Kellyman as Pebbles, Sully's niece (series 4)
  • Jumi Ibitoye as Arlo (series 4-5)
  • Conya Toccara as Tia, a young rebellious girl whom Stefan befriends (series 4)
  • Howard Charles as Curtis, Lauren's boyfriend (series 4)
  • Joséphine de La Baume as Delphine, Sully's love interest (series 4)
  • Ava Brennan as Vee, Curtis' sister (series 4)
  • Tundy "Trigga" Smith as Speaks, Curtis' friend (series 4)
  • TerriAnn Oudjar as Beverley, a lady from Shelley's past who returns to blackmail her (series 4)
  • Verona Rose as Naomi, Shelley's friend and employee at Shelley's Nails (series 4-5)
  • Hugo Silva as Emilio (series 4)
  • Mustapha Abourachid as Mounir (series 4)
  • Ash Barba as Chaash (series 4)
  • Ilani Marriott Lodge as Samsi (series 4-5)
  • Ivan Burdon as Bradders (series 4-5)
  • Íñigo de la Iglesia as Juan el Bueno (series 4)
  • Marisa Luisa González Guerrero as Sofia, Emilio's wife (series 4)
  • Antonio González Guerrero as Antonio, Sofia's brother (series 4)
  • Christopher Fulford as Wilson Lee, a crooked lawyer for Dushane (series 4-5)
  • Michael Maris as Junior, Sully's new 2nd in command (series 5, guest series 4)
  • Barry Keoghan as Jonny McGee, Sully's drug partner (series 5)
  • Brian Gleeson as Tadgh McGee, Jonny's uncle (series 5)
  • Jazzy de Lizzer as Antonia (series 5)
  • Alexander Cobb as Iian (series 5)
  • Helder Fernandes as Ali (series 5)
  • Jordan Dulski as Chaz (series 5)
  • Kenneth Omole as Obi (series 5)
  • Emmanuella Aicha Toure as Tayo (series 5)
  • Fiona Skinner as Marriene (series 5)
  • Brinsley Terence as Bill (series 5)
  • Clare Cogan as Linda, Bill's mum (series 5)
  • Danielle Walters as Amanda (series 5)
  • Mustafa Kahie as Mukhtar
  • Arsher Ali as Isaac Latif (series 5)

Episodes[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
4818 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
567 September 2023 (2023-09-07)

Series 1 (2011)[edit]

No. No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.K. viewers
(millions)[6]
11"Episode 1"Yann DemangeRonan Bennett31 October 2011 (2011-10-31)1.68
In the courtyards of the Summerhouse Estate, a thriving but underground drug 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.
22"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. Dushane and Sully kidnap Kamale's cousin in order to force Kamale out of hiding, but things don't go according to plan, and the boys end up with a body on their hands. Meanwhile, Ra'Nell goes into business with his mother's friend, Heather.
33"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. After an altercation where Gem is accused of betraying Dushane and Sully, Marnie is murdered. Sighting Kamale, Dushane and Sully torture him before shooting him and recovering the stolen drugs and money. Raikes' accomplice Lee is revealed to be the snake, and is murdered.
44"Episode 4"Yann DemangeRonan Bennett3 November 2011 (2011-11-03)1.56
Heather confesses her guilt, which leads Lisa to call upon Leon for help. 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 two people, with Raikes proposing they sell Sully out as a liability.

Series 2 (2013)[edit]

No. No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date U.K. viewers
(millions)[6]
51"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.
62"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.
73"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 firsthand the struggles the youth faces. Ra'Nell attempts to protect Gem from Vincent. The police threaten to destroy their witness if she does not cooperate, putting Dushane and Sully in danger.
84"Episode 4"Jonathan van TullekenRonan Bennett10 September 2013 (2013-09-10)1.00
Lisa enlists Dushane's help 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. No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
91"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.
102"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.
113"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.
124"Bonfire Night"Nia DaCostaDaniel 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.
135"Smoke Gets in Your Hands"Nia DaCostaRonan 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.
146"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.
157"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.
168"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.
179"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.
1810"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.

Series 4 (2022)[edit]

No. No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
191"Good Morals"Brady HoodRonan Bennett18 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
With big plans to go legit, Dushane plots new business moves and extends an offer to Jamie. The future of Summerhouse puts furious residents on edge.
202"How Do I Fix This?"Brady HoodRonan Bennett18 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
Amma receives devastating news. Sully meets a kind stranger. Jaq and the crew handle a matter in-house while Dushane takes an important meeting in Spain.
213"Likkle Favour"Brady HoodDaniel West18 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
After a botched drug shipment, Dushane sends Jamie to Morocco to find a potential leak. Jaq gets revenge on an attacker. The cops move in on Ruben.
224"Fully Loaded Headache"Koby AdomRonan Bennett18 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
The Summerhouse redevelopment plan puts Dushane at odds with his mother as police work to take Dushane down. In Morocco, another drug delivery is intercepted.
235"15 Points"Koby AdomRonan Bennett18 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
After a disturbing video circulates on social media, Dushane races to find Sully. Jamie heads to Spain to broker a deal as Lauren searches for a way out.
246"De Capa y Espada"Myriam RajaDaniel West18 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
Jaq tracks down the woman in Ats' video. Dushane attends Ruben's bail hearing. An unexpected visitor arrives in Spain, muddling Jamie's plans.
257"We Ride Out for Family"William Stefan SmithRonan Bennett and Tyrone Rashard18 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
Shelley confronts her past. Jamie meets with Kit. Bent on getting Lauryn back, Curtis resorts to devious tactics as more issues overwhelm Dushane.
268"Prove Yourself"William Stefan SmithRonan Bennett18 March 2022 (2022-03-18)
Jaq arranges a meeting with Curtis. The cops hit a bump in their investigation. Jamie's loyalty is put to the test. Dushane has a change of heart.

Series 5 (2023)[edit]

No. No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
271"Step Back"Myriam RajaRonan Bennett7 September 2023 (2023-09-07)
Dushane agrees to back Shelley's new business venture. Sully receives a shipment containing a terrible surprise.
282"The Tour"Myriam RajaRonan Bennett7 September 2023 (2023-09-07)
Jaq spends time with her sister, Lauryn. Sully tries to take care of a new threat, but Dushane won't trust him to do it alone.
293"Birthday Party"Myriam RajaElliot Warren7 September 2023 (2023-09-07)
Dushane tries to track down his investments. Sully plots a move against his new partners. Shelley's dreams are dashed.
304"The Food Is Killing Us"Myriam RajaTyrone Rashard7 September 2023 (2023-09-07)
Stefan and Erin take a step forward in their relationship. Shelley calls it quits with Dushane. Jaq starts to doubt everything.
315"Has It Come to This"William Stefan SmithRonan Bennett7 September 2023 (2023-09-07)
After a daring move, Jaq goes on the run. Sully looks for answers. Dushane learns that investigators are pursuing him closely.
326"If We Are Not Monsters"William Stefan SmithRonan Bennett7 September 2023 (2023-09-07)
With Summerhouse up in flames, Jaq tries to make things right. Dushane makes preparations to disappear, and Sully is confronted by a ghost from his past.

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

Top Boy was written and created by Belfast-born novelist Ronan Bennett. He also produced the series through his production company Eastern Partisan. Bennett was inspired to write the series after he saw a twelve-year-old boy dealing drugs at his local Tesco supermarket in Hackney, London. Bennett, assisted by his friend Gerry Jackson, interviewed several drug dealers in the area about their lifestyle in order to portray the society realistically. Jackson was later credited as a story consultant on the series.

The series pilot was originally commissioned by the BBC, but the head of drama was very critical about the strong violence and profanity in the script. Eventually, Bennett met with producers Charles Steel and Alasdair Flind of Cowboy Films, who gave support. In July 2010, it was announced that the series had been commissioned by Channel 4 as a four-part drama.

Casting[edit]

The series cast UK rappers, along with seasoned and newcoming acting talent. So Solid Crew rapper turned actor Ashley Walters and British rapper Kane Robinson were cast as lead characters Dushane and Sully, respectively. Following his breakthrough performance in the 2004 film Bullet Boy, Walters turned down several roles in urban films and TV shows but he chose to audition for Top Boy because of its realistic characterization. The character of Sully was written as an Asian drug dealer, but casting director Des Hamilton, director Yann Demange, and Bennett were all impressed with Robinson's chemistry test with Walters and rewrote the character for Robinson.

Walters and Robinson led the series alongside other rappers, including Scorcher as London Fields gang leader Kamale. UK rappers Giggs and Sway make cameo appearances in the first series. The first series also featured Shone Romolus as Dris, Dushane and Sully's trusted enforcer; newcomers Malcolm Kamulete and Giacomo Mancini as best friends Ra'Nell and Gem; Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Ra'Nell's mum Lisa; Nicholas Pinnock as Leon, Lisa's friend and a father figure to Ra'Nell; Kierston Wareing as Lisa's pregnant friend Heather; Benedict Wong as cannabis dealer Vincent; and Geoff Bell as drug lord Bobby Raikes. The series also featured a then-eighteen-year-old Letitia Wright as Chantelle, a member of the Summerhouse gang and Gem's love interest.

The second series features the reprisals of Walters, Robinson, Romolus, Kamulete, Mancini, Duncan-Brewster, and Wong with new additions including rapper Bashy as Jermaine, Sully's cousin; Lorraine Burroughs as Rhianna Parkes, Dushane's lawyer; Paul Anderson as Mike, Sully's new business partner; Nabil Elouahabi as Babrak Mustapha, Gem's father; Ricky Smarts as Jason, Sully's friend and son figure; and Michaela Coel as Kayla Thomas, a woman who was in contact with Kamale.

In April 2019, following the series' revival by Netflix, it was announced that Micheal Ward would join the cast as the new London Fields leader Jamie. He previously auditioned to play Jamie's younger brother Aaron. Rappers Dave and Little Simz were cast as Modie and Shelly, respectively. New additions to the third and fourth series include Jasmine Jobson, Hope Ikpoku Jr., Araloyin Oshunremi, Keiyon Cook, Jolade Obasola, Kadeem Ramsay, Lisa Dwan, Joshua Blisset, Saffron Hocking and Adwoa Aboah.

Filming locations[edit]

The Heygate Estate and Loughborough Estate, both in South London, were used as the Summerhouse Estate during the first two series. Production visited several locations in Kent for the third series. Filming took place in Margate at Walpole Bay and Fulsam Rock Beach and nearby streets including Athelstan Road. Production also visited Ramsgate, where they filmed at Jacob's Ladder, outside the Rose of England pub on the High Street and Ramsgate Station. Gordon Place in Gravesend doubles as the fictional Summerhouse Estate throughout the series.[7]

For the third and fourth series, the Samuda Estate in Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and the De Beauvoir Estate in De Beauvoir Town in the London Borough of Hackney double as the Summerhouse Estate. Locations in Liverpool were shown throughout Series 4 Episode 5, with the Dockside Outlet Shopping Centre in Chatham, Kent doubling as an imitation shopping centre in Liverpool.[7]

With the series being set in Hackney much of the filming took place in the borough in areas including Dalston, Haggerston and London Fields.[8] Legal scenes in series 4 were filmed in the old Blackfriars Crown Court.[9]

Music[edit]

The original score for the series was composed by Brian Eno and Michael Asante. In addition to its original music, Top Boy features grime, hip-hop and R&B from artists including Ghostpoet, AJ Tracey, Giggs, Central Cee, Roots Manuva, Burna Boy and J Hus.

On 13 September 2019, an original soundtrack for the series, titled Top Boy (A Selection of Music Inspired by the Series), was released by OVO Sound and Warner to accommodate with the release of the third series.[10][11] The soundtrack includes appearances from OVO's Drake, Baka Not Nice, and Popcaan and British artists AJ Tracey, Avelino, Dave, Fredo, Ghetts, Headie One, Little Simz, M Huncho, Nafe Smallz, Central Cee and SL.[12][13]

In 2023, Brian Eno released Top Boy: Soundtrack from the Netflix Series (Beat Records).

Cancellation and revival series[edit]

Despite its successful ratings and critical acclaim, in 2014, it was announced by Walters that Channel 4 had cancelled the series after two series.[14] Speaking in 2019, Bennett expressed his disappointment about the abrupt cancellation, feeling that Channel 4 cancelling the series was a "smack in the face to the community".[citation needed]

Around the time of the show's cancellation, Canadian rapper Drake became a fan of the series after watching it in parts on YouTube and posted screenshots of the series on his social media. After learning that a third series was cancelled, Drake met with Walters and the series' producers about reviving the series. Drake bought the rights to the series and pitched it to Netflix, who greenlit the third series in November 2017, with Drake serving as executive producer and most of the original cast and crew reprising their roles.[citation needed] The third series was filmed from July 2018 to February 2019 and was released on 13 September 2019, the first series on Netflix, consisting of ten episodes.[citation needed]

In January 2020, the series was renewed for a second series on Netflix (fourth series overall), with filming set to start in the spring of that year. However, due to COVID-19, filming was delayed and started in late November/early December. The series was released on Netflix on 18 March 2022, consisting of eight episodes.[citation needed]

In March 2022, shortly after the debut of the following series, it was announced that the series was renewed for a third series on Netflix (fifth series overall), which was announced as the final series of the series. Filming began in July 2022.[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception and viewership[edit]

Top Boy received positive feedback from critics. The first two series premiered with 1 million viewers and managed to maintain its audience share over the course of its two-year run.[15] 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."[16]

The Netflix revival series was met with greater acclaim for its performances, emotional depth, soundtrack, writing, and bigger scope and scale. Rebecca Nicholson, writing in the Guardian, described the third series as "more violent, more gripping and more shocking than ever". Ellen E Jones, also of the Guardian, praised the fourth series, writing that the series "always leaves you guessing".[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Chu, Henry (8 November 2017). "Drake Revives British Drug Dealer Drama 'Top Boy' for Netflix". Variety. Retrieved 8 November 2017.
  2. ^ "Top Boy – Series 2 – Starts 20th August". 7 August 2013.
  3. ^ Jeffery, Morgan (11 May 2018). "Top Boy series 3 for Netflix will shoot from July". Digital Spy.
  4. ^ George, Crystal (31 March 2022). "Top Boy series 3: Netflix renews Top Boy for third and final series". Netflix Life.
  5. ^ "Top Boy series 5: release date, cast, trailer and more for the final series". Capital XTRA. Retrieved 4 April 2022.
  6. ^ a b "Weekly top 10 programmes | BARB".
  7. ^ a b Kent Film Office (13 March 2022). "Kent Film Office Top Boy (2019-2022) Article".
  8. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Top Boy Series 3 Article". Archived from the original on 29 October 2019. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  9. ^ Aishah Hussain (21 January 2021). "Netflix's Top Boy uses sold off crown court to film legal scenes — as criminal case backlog hits 457,518". Legal Cheek. Retrieved 22 January 2021.
  10. ^ "DRAKE & OVO SOUND PRESENT "TOP BOY" SOUNDTRACK". HipHopDX. 12 September 2019.
  11. ^ "The tracklisting for Drake's 'Top Boy' soundtrack has been revealed". NME. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Drake's OVO Sound reveals Top Boy soundtrack tracklist". Revolt. 12 September 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  13. ^ "The OVO Sound 'Top Boy' Soundtrack Will Contain A New Drake Song After All". Uproxx. 11 September 2019. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  14. ^ Digital Spy (28 May 2014). "Top Boy not getting series 3". Digital Spy.
  15. ^ Rosser, Michael. "Top Boy ends on 990k". Broadcastnow. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  16. ^ Sutcliffe, Tom (4 November 2011). "Last Night's Viewing: Symphony, BBC4; Top Boy, Channel 4". The Independent. London. Retrieved 4 November 2011.
  17. ^ Jones, Ellen E. (18 March 2022). "Top Boy review – this brilliant crime drama always leaves you guessing". The Guardian.

External links[edit]