Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Top Boy, Channel 4

My latest review on Orange. I worried I was being a bit hard on it, but after enjoying Hidden I was expecting much more from writer Ronan Bennett.

A lot of the drug-related stuff seemed a bit over-familiar and hackneyed, and it would have been interesting to see more of Ra'Nell having to take care of himself.

It's by no means a bad drama, but it could have been so much more.

Top Boy is a four-part drama being stripped across Channel 4 this week, billed as “an honest and gripping rendition of inner-city drug and gang culture”. However, despite coming from the hot pen of writer Ronan Bennett (Hidden), the opener was just another humdrum excursion into familiar territory.

At the heart of the drama is Dushane (Ashley Walters) – a “soldier” in a local drug network who's sick of bottom-feeding and fancies a shot at the big time. When top boss Bobby Raikes (Geoff Bell) gives him his opportunity, Dushane also has to deal with the unwelcome attentions of a rival gang, led by the violent Kemale (Tayo 'Scorcher' Jarrett).

Meanwhile, schoolboy Ra'Nell (Malcolm Kamuleke) is left to fend for himself when his mum Lisa (Sharon Duncan Brewster) goes into hospital with mental health problems, leaving him vulnerable to the temptation of working for Dushane. Elsewhere, Lisa's pregnant mate Heather (Kierston Wareing) is moving into the dope farming business.