August 12, 2019
It was ‘Britain’s answer to The Wire’. But the gang drama was dead – until the rapper stepped in and pitched it to Netflix. Its stars and writer talk grime, gentrification and Boris Johnson’s Britain
The show needed to come back: how Drake rescued the druglords of Top Boy
‘I told them I was on my way out to meet some singer called Drake,” says writer Ronan Bennett, recalling the unlikely story of how he went out for dinner with the Canadian rapper and somehow managed to make himself seem less cool in front of his children. Drake was a fan of Top Boy, Bennett’s Channel 4 drama about the lives of drug dealers and residents on a fictional Hackney estate called Summerhouse. He had been recommended it while on tour and loved it so much, he began posting stills from the show on Instagram with clumsy attempts at London slang (“real bod man”). When he found out it had been cancelled, he decided to bring it back by teaming up with Bennett and pitching it to Netflix.
The pair arranged a dinner in London to thrash out a plan – much to the disbelief of Bennett’s kids, who had to inform him he was about to meet one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. “My children were like, ‘Whaaaaat?’” he says. “But honestly, I didn’t know who he was.”
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