Your Next Box Set: Top Boy
On the lookout for a new box set to spend your evenings devouring? Each week, hmv.com will be recommending you a series that you will have wishing those cold nights would go for a good while longer. This week we've picked out Channel 4's drama series, Top Boy...
What is it?
Written by Ronan Bennett, the writer behind TV shows like Love Lies Bleeding and Fields of Gold, as well as feature films including 1997’s Face, Top Boy is a Channel 4 drama series set on the fictional Summerhouse estate in Hackney, east London, depicting the lives of Ra’Nell and Dushane, two young men living on the tough housing estate going through very different problems, but which are all related either directly or indirectly to drugs. Ra’Nell’s mother has been committed to a psychiatric hospital and he is helping is friend Heather grow Marijuana plants to make ends meet, while Dushane is a local drug dealer whose reputation is on the rise, and the series details his battles to stay in control of his business, and to stay alive on the tough streets of the estate where he is competing with rival gangs.
As bleak as the outlook for life on the estate can be, the show always finds time to include the lighter side of the situation and the writers have been careful to include the sense of community that exists in the area instead of just focusing on the negative aspects. As such it offers a balanced and fairly accurate account of life in some of London’s less affable urban districts.
Who’s in it?
The show stars Ashley Walters - formerly better known as controversial So Solid Crew rapper Asher D – as well as Kane Robinson, better known as rapper Kano, alongside a cast of lesser-known but talented actors that includes Sharon Duncan Brewster, best known for her role as Crystal in Bad Girls, as well as Geoff Bell (RocknRolla, Green Street Hooligans). The show also features music from ex-Roxy Music keyboardist turned ambient music pioneer Brian Eno.
Why should I watch it?
Running for two series so far with a third in the pipeline, Top Boy’s style has a gritty realism not often depicted on British television, showing that life on the streets for young people in crime filled areas is far from being as straightforward as making choice whether or not to get involved. The scripts are well written and the performances are all too believable in this tough and sometimes harrowing depiction of urban life.
Describe the show in three words…
Gritty street drama.