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Top Boy

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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.


OVERVIEW

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.

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).

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).

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.

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