The highly anticipated and much hyped Top Boy, set in East London debuted on Channel 4 on Monday (October 31) starring Ashley Walters as Dushane and Kane Robinson (better known to us as Kano) as Dushane and Sully, residents of the fictional Summerhouse estate in Hackney…
Although many sceptics pre-judged this four-part drama as another Kidulthood, or another typical personification of a glorification of drug and gang culture in the urban parts of the city, the crisp cinematography alone and the early introduction of each illustrated storyline separates this, making for an authentic drama honest to its roots, portraying different aspects of life in and around an East London estate.
Cliche characters aside – such as the Chinese man offering a ‘good deal’ to the pregnant young mother Heather (Kierston Wareing), who decides to grow marijuana to make ends meet, and Nigerian character Femi with the drug connect (referred to as the ‘postman’) after the rival drug gang rob Dushane and Sully’s crew in the opening scenes – in Monday night’s opening episode we saw depictions of different lives surrounding the drug trade. Father figure Leon (Nicholas Pinnock) takes young Ra’Nell under his wing after his mother (Sharon Duncan Brewster, who played Trina in Eastenders) gets sectioned, leaving him to defend himself while his best friend Gem (Giacomo Mancini) falls into the trap of ‘easy’ money with Dushane and his drug runnings.
Comparisons have been made to HBO’s The Wire and rightly so, with this obviously being a well-researched and thought out drama. The two boys, Ra’Nell and Gem balance adolescent aggression with young mined vulnerability whilst Sully and Dushane and debut appearances to the screen by Tayo Jarrett (Scorcher) and Derek Andrew Safo (Sway) representing the gritty realities of life on a drug riddled estate in London, with the added humorous banter for good measure. Ashley, being no stranger to acting, delivers and Kane, playing a astoundingly ruggish character, pleasantly surprises.
Top Boy airs on Channel 4 at 10pm until Thursday, November 3.