Created by Ronan Bennett, the gritty crime drama Top Boy made its debut in 2011 and quickly gained a devoted fan base.
However, it was the show’s revival on Netflix in 2019 that truly propelled it to international popularity. It incidentally was pushed forward by Canadian rapper Drake’s involvement.
One of the key figures in the Top Boy universe is Ashley Walters, a versatile actor who has been lauded for his remarkable portrayal of Dushane Hill, a drug dealer determined to climb to the top of the East London drug trade. Walters’s performance has been central to the show’s success, and it was his dedication and improvisational skills that played a pivotal role in a scene he recalled as “huge”.
In a candid discussion with British GQ, Walters broke down the first confrontation between his character, Dushane, and Sully (played by Kane Robinson). “This moment was huge for us. I think it may have been two days that we spent shooting this, and in TV world that’s way too long,” said Walters with a laugh.
“But we wanted to get it right. A lot of it was improvised. The scene was a lot longer than it ended up being after the edit. But we had to play around with it to make it make sense,” Walters continued, “What’s more important about this scene is that it sets up the whole season. So kind of what happens in this first confrontation sets the pace, sets the standard for the rest of the show.”
The scene in question marked a departure from the show’s usual formula. Instead of the typical pattern of partnership, conflict, and eventual reunion, the creators chose to kick off the final season with a different dynamic, giving the audience something fresh and unexpected, especially considering it was the series finale.
Ashley Walters described the new dynamics between Dushane and Sully, “The formula has been that Shane and Sully together, then they fall out, then they come together at the end because something brings them together, and we could have done that standard same sort of formula in this season but we wanted to start it a different way and give the audience something a bit more being as it’s the finale.”
Top Boy on Netflix not only renewed interest in the series but also introduced it to a global audience with its raw and unapologetic portrayal of life in the fictional Summerhouse estate of the London Borough of Hackney.
You can stream all five seasons of Top Boy on Netflix, with all eight Channel 4 episodes listed under Top Boy Summerhouse.