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Theodore Turner
Theodore Turner

Top Boy - Season 1

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 executively producing.[1] The third and fourth series premiered on Netflix in September 2019 and March 2022, respectively and were presented as the first and second season of an original Netflix series, whilst the previous two series 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 which will air at some point in the future.[4][5]

Top Boy - Season 1

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The second season was set one year after the events of the first season. 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, who was forced by the police to give information about Dushane.

The third season takes place six years after the second season. Dushane has fled to Jamaica, where he is getting by working in his cousin's car-rental shop. When he makes a business deal with imprisoned drug lord Sugar, he returns to London to sell Sugar's product and become Top Boy once again, with the help of Dris and Jaq, who were running Summerhouse 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.

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 on Modie's face days before he is due to be released; this serves to make Sully an enemy of Modies who seeks revenge on Sully when later in the season he eventually escapes prison with the help of Sully's cousin Jermaine, whom Sully had kidnapped in the previous season. When Sully is released, he reconnects with Jason and Gem to begin selling in Ramsgate. However, after Jason is killed in a house fire, Sully reluctantly reunites with Dushane and the two start doing business once again. Meanwhile, Dris, having suffered a stroke that has left him partially disabled, struggles with his responsibilities upon Dushane's return.

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

The series cast UK rappers, along with seasoned and newcoming 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.

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 season. The first season 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, 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 season was 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 seasons include Jasmine Jobson, Hope Ikpoku Jr., Araloyin Oshunremi, Keiyon Cook, Jolade Obasola, Kadeem Ramsay, Lisa Dwan, Joshua Blisset, Saffron Hocking and Adwoa Aboah.

The Heygate Estate and Loughborough Estate, both in South London, were used as the Summerhouse estate during the first two seasons. Production visited several locations in Kent for the third season. 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 season.[7]

For the third and fourth seasons, the Samuda Estate on the Isle of Dogs and the De Beauvoir Estate in the London Borough of Hackney double as the Summerhouse estate. The Dockside Outlet Shopping Centre in Chatham, Kent features in Series 4 Episode 5, doubling as a shopping mall 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 season 4 were filmed in the old Blackfriars Crown Court.[9]

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 season.[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]

Despite its successful ratings and critical acclaim, in 2014, it was announced by Walters that Channel 4 had cancelled the series after two seasons.[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 season was cancelled, Drake met up with the series' producers and Walters about reviving the series. Drake brought the rights to the series and pitched it to Netflix, who greenlit the third season in November 2017, with Drake serving as executive producer and most of the original cast and crew reprising their roles.[citation needed] The third season was filmed from July 2018 to February 2019, and was released on 13 September 2019, the first season on Netflix, consisting of ten episodes.[citation needed]

In January 2020, the series was renewed for a second season on Netflix (fourth season 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 season was released on Netflix on 18 March 2022, consisting of eight episodes.[citation needed]

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

Top Boy received positive feedback from critics. The first two seasons 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 revival series was met with greater acclaim for its performances, emotional depth, soundtrack, writing and bigger scope and scale, with critics considering it as the best season of the series. Rebecca Nicholson, writing in The Guardian, described the third season as "more violent, more gripping and more shocking than ever". Ellen E Jones, also of The Guardian, praised the fourth season, writing that the series "always leaves you guessing".[17]

Fans of Top Boy had a disappointing start to the year with some of the original show removed from Netflix and likely more to follow. Season 1 of Top Boy: Summerhouse is no longer on Netflix globally but has been relicensed following a recent season 3 renewal of the Netflix series.

This is the first major time Netflix did this for a revival. If we look at Black Mirror (similarly acquired from Channel 4 although ownership is somewhat different) all seasons both old and new were and continue to be listed together. Likewise, shows like Lucifer and Designated Survivor are too.

The story revolves around two hungry drug dealers, Sully and Dushane, who enter into a lucrative deal with Cockney drug boss Raikes. When their stash is stolen, the two boys find themselves in a race against time as they try to find who took their drugs whilst figuring out who in their organisation has ratted them out in the first place. All of this builds toward the last two episodes that see all of our supporting and main cast come together for a final clash. In the aftermath of this drama, plot points are resolved and characters are given a good send-off, while leaving the door wide open for a second season. 041b061a72


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