TV Quickfire: Ashley Walters and Kane 'Kano' Robinson on how celeb fan Drake helped to revive Top Boy on Netflix
Gritty urban drama Top Boy is back on our screens, thanks to Netflix – and Canadian rapper Drake. We asked stars Ashley Walters and Kane ‘Kano' Robinson about the Ronan Bennett-penned show's much-anticipated revival
TOP BOY IS BACK – DID YOU FORESEE ITS RETURN?
K: I didn't, to be honest. We all wanted it back but it's a weird one because I thought after every year the talk would die down and it just didn't, it just grew. So, yeah, it was a welcome call, and I know it was something Ash was pushing for as well, so we were both excited about it.
A: It's been a long time coming, but I think the time passed has been perfect. It's one of those things where I would have wanted it to come back straight away, but if you think about it now, the timing is perfect for the culture and just in general, what we're going through as people in the country.
HOW HAS THE MOVE FROM CHANNEL 4 TO NETFLIX AFFECTED THE SHOW?
A: We were able to do a lot more on screen than we could have even with Channel 4. Channel 4 was a risky channel anyway, but with Netflix you have a lot of space to push the boundaries.
K: One of the main things that Netflix gave us, which I know was always [Belfast Top Boy writer Ronan Bennett's] dream, was 10 episodes. That was exciting for me as an actor because you get to show more of your character and spend time with them away from the street life. In the home, family life, that kind of stuff.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE DRAKE ON BOARD AS AN EXEC PRODUCER?
A: Waking up and seeing Drake had put up the post [about his love for the show on social media] was brilliant for us; we knew that it had gone on Netflix, but I didn't understand what the difference would be.
Obviously the difference was that the show was now international. Drake has helped to shine a light on it – but first and foremost, he's a big fan.
HOW HAS DUSHANE AND SULLY'S RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPED THIS SEASON?
K: From a Sully point of view, he's spent some time in jail, and during that four years or whatever it was, he's realised that the only person that's really been there for him is Jason. With Dushane it was, 'Yo, where were you?' so when we finally meet it's like, 'Hang on, you only care about me when you want something'. That's kind of in his mind, so he is out to make his own way in this world and not be under Dushane.
A: Dushane has been out in Jamaica since the last time you saw him, laying low. He's depressed because if you know how it is at the top and you lose it, that's one of the worst positions you could be in. So his plan is to lie low, create a new life for himself, but he's constantly reminded of what he had and what he doesn't have any more. And that - without giving away the story - helps him to create a situation where he needs to go back.
WHY DO YOU THINK TOP BOY HAS REMAINED SO RELEVANT?
A: It hasn't been topped. It's one of those things, it's always remained like a classic, because there's not been a TV show after that's focused on the same genre and the same idea - and that has been better than it. So that's always put us in good stead. But our formula, the mixture of experienced actors with non-working actors and the way our casting directors cast people, that all ties into the USP of the show.
:: Top Boy premieres on Netflix now.