In Pictures: The Top Boy premiere

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The Top Boy premier on Monday night (October 31st 2011) was a big success with a jam-packed screening room, photos of the night are in the gallery above.

Top Boy is the major new four-part TV drama from the award-winning producers of The Last King of Scotland and writer Ronan Bennett. Top Boy is set amidst East London’s drug gang underworld and stars a host of music talent including Ashely Walters, Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson, Giggs, Scorcher and Sway. 

For your chance to get even more involved with the action make sure you add the Top Boy Blackberry pin 28404915. You will be able to get exclusive real time messages sent from Sully (Kane ‘Kano’ Robinson) and Dushane (Ashley Walters) as the drama unfolds.

You can watch Top Boy on 4OD if you missed it last night, and to tune in for the final episode tonight at 10pm and follow #TopBoy on Twitter @TopBoyC4

Top Boy trailer:

[youtube id=”Wr81tuJziCw” width=”610″ height=”350″]

Programme Information:

TX: Starts October 31st, 10pm, Channel 4, and continues over the next three nights.

(Scroll down for individual episode information)

On London’s Summerhouse Estate, lives are lived along lines, and challenges come in all forms, even – especially – for kids.

13-year-old Ra’Nell (Malcolm Kamulete) finds he has to “step up and be a man” when his mother Lisa (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) has a breakdown and is hospitalised. At the same time his mum’s friend Heather (Kierston Wareing), enlists his help in a dangerous plan she has concocted to give her unborn baby the chances she never had – “even if it means doing one wrong thing to get to the right place.”

Meanwhile, in the courtyards of the Summerhouse Estate a thriving but underground drugs business is being run by Dushane (Ashley Walters) and his friend Sully (Kane Robinson). Charming, sexy and clever, 26-year-old Dushane has “already run out of things to be – except this.” When he attracts the attention of the operation’s king pin Bobby Raikes (Geoff Bell), he seizes an opportunity to be more, to have more, to be Top Boy.

But others will pay a heavy price for Dushane’s ambitions, including Ra’Nell’s best friend, the guileless and vulnerable Gem (Giacomo Mancini), members of Dushane’s own family and an innocent young man whose only offence is to be related to Dushane’s deadly rival Kamale (Scorcher).

As Dushane and Sully’s fight for control of Summerhouse escalates, Ra’Nell finds himself caught in the crossfire – with devastating consequences.

Featuring an ensemble cast of brilliant new talent, Top Boy is Ronan Bennett’s new four-part drama about young people living on the edge and, for the most part, out of sight in east London today. Directed by Yann Demange, Top Boy showcases a fresh and dynamic line up of first-time actors, brought together through extensive talent searches across London.

Thrilling, raw, frightening, sad, hopeful and surprisingly funny by turn, this original drama is an honest and gripping rendition of inner-city life set in a world we think we know, but rarely see or understand.

A Cowboy Films and Easter Partisan Films production.


This four-part mini-series, created and written by novelist and screenwriter Ronan Bennett (Channel 4’s The Hamburg Cell, The Catastrophist, Public Enemies) takes us into the housing estates of east London. A Hackney resident himself, Bennett depicts the human realities of a world where every day is a struggle, survived with courage by some, whilst others slip between the cracks.

To some, crime seems to offer the only means of acquiring wealth and status. Drug gangs operate almost openly in the courtyards between tower blocks, while others strive to live honest lives against the odds. This tension is explored through the interlocking stories of 26-year-old dealer Dushane (Ashley Walters), determined to become the area’s Top Boy, and the good-natured but vulnerable 14-year-old Ra’Nell (Malcolm Kamulete), forced to grow up fast after his mother’s breakdown and enforced absence.

Top Boy combines elements of a tense gangster thriller with subtle social realism, touches of tenderness, surprising innocence and wry humour. The 68-strong cast blends newcomers like Kamulete, music stars Kane Robinson (aka Kano) and Tayo Jarrett (aka Scorcher) with established actors like Ashley Walters (Bullet Boy, Small Island), Kierston Wareing (It’s a Free World, Fish Tank, Luther, The Shadow Line), Geoff Bell (The Long Firm, RocknRolla, Five Daughters) and David Hayman (Trial and Retribution, Waking the Dead, Sid and Nancy, Hope and Glory).

Directed by Yann Demange (Criminal Justice, Dead Set) this gripping drama is full of striking images, often finding an austere beauty in the urban settings it inhabits. The gleaming skyline of the City of London forms a frequent backdrop to the views from the high-rise flats, a visual reminder that the ruthless pursuit of wealth crosses all social boundaries.

Episode 1

Featuring an ensemble cast of brilliant new talent, Top Boy is Ronan Bennett’s thrilling new four-part drama about young people living on the edge and, for the most part, out of sight in east London today.

On London’s Summerhouse Estate, lives are lived along lines, and challenges come in all forms, even – especially – for kids.

Meet 13-year-old Ra’Nell (Malcolm Kamulete), who lives with his single mother Lisa (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) on the Summerhouse estate. Lisa is depressed and can’t get out of bed, but Ra’Nell has to get to school with his good friend Gem (Giacomo Mancini), so reluctantly leaves her behind at home as he starts his day.

Meanwhile in the courtyards of the estate 26-year-old Dushane (Ashley Walters) and his partner Sully (Kane Robinson) are running their covert drugs business, but things start to go badly wrong when they have their stash stolen by a rival, Kamale (Tayo Jarrett), leader of the London Fields Mandem. Their boss, Lee Greene (Cyrus Desir) tells them they now owe £3,000 to his boss, Bobby Raikes (Geoff Bell) – so setting the scene for a dramatic escalation of the simmering turf war that forms the backdrop to their daily lives.

Later, Lisa ventures out shopping but, unable to cope with the outside world, finds herself taken to hospital where she is sectioned. Terrified that he will be taken into care, she omits to mention Ra’Nell to the staff there, but help materialises in the shape of Leon (Nicholas Pinnock), a friend of her estranged husband and reformed gang-member who works as a personal trainer at the hospital. He seeks her out and promises to keep an eye on Ra’Nell.

At the same time, Lisa’s friend and fellow estate resident Heather (Kierston Wareing) is hatching a plan fraught with hazard to escape her surroundings and begin a new life before the birth of her child.

And unknown to all of them, their individual ambitions, desires and relationships are about to become deeply and irrevocably enmeshed.

Wri: Ronan Bennett

Dir: Yann Demange

Prods: Charles Brand, Alasdair Flind, Ronan Bennett

Prod co: Cowboy Films and Easter Partisan Films

Episode 2

In tonight’s second episode, Dushane (Ashley Walters) and his partner Sully (Kane Robinson) find themselves hugely in debt to Raikes (Geoff Bell) and – under increasing pressure to retrieve their stash from Kamale (Tayo Jarrett).

Elsewhere, the terrifying consequences of Dushane’s ambitions begin to spill into the lives of his family.

Lisa (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) is still in hospital but showing signs of improvement, she is allowed a day release, and pins all her hopes on a reunion with her son Ra’Nell (Malcolm Kamulete). Unbeknown both to her and Ra’Nell’s guardian angel Leon (Nicholas Pinnock), he has been recruited by Heather (Kierston Wareing) to help run her secret project.

That same night, in desperation, Dushane and Sully formulate a kidnap plot to lure Kamale, their main rival in the London Fields Mandem, into the open. But things don’t go to plan and the results are fatal.

Episode 3

In tonight’s penultimate episode Dushane (Ashley Walters) and Sully (Kane Robinson) know that time is running out to find Kamale (Tayo Jarrett) and repay their debt to Raikes ( Geoff Bell). Obsessed with finding out whether there’s a grass within their own gang, Sully instructs fellow gang-member Dris (Shone Romulus) to intercept his prime suspect: Ra’Nell’s (Malcolm Kamulete) best mate, the hapless Gem (Giacomo Mancini).

Ra’Nell turns to Leon (Nicholas Pinnock) to help Gem, bringing Leon into further conflict with Sully; Heather (Kierston Wareing), dreaming of her new life, takes Ra’Nell to see the waterfront flat she hopes to buy with the fruits of their labours; and as Lisa (Sharon Duncan-Brewster) finally returns home to pick up the pieces of her life, she’s unaware of the dangerous secret which now bonds Ra’Nell and Heather.

Episode 4

Dushane’s loyalty to his hot-headed accomplice and best friend, Sully, is tested to the limit when he discovers him openly carrying a murder weapon. With the police out in force and their situation spiraling out of control, Raikes offers Dushane a monstrous solution to all of his problems.

Meanwhile Ra’Nell, inveigled into protecting Heather, decides to negotiate directly with Dushane over the price of her crop, which only serves to draw him further into a catastrophic series of events triggered by Sully’s duplicity.

When Heather unexpectedly goes into labour and with her plans in turmoil, she is forced into a bedside confession which confronts her old friend, Lisa, with the terrible truth about Ra’Nell’s involvement in her drugs enterprise. Lisa, distraught and desperate, is left to rely on Leon to prevent certain tragedy.

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